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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, January 02, 2009

Recession hitting Maori workers

Afternoon December 23

It may not be a Meri Kerihimete for a growing number of Maori around the motu with the economic recession starting to bite.

Syd Kepa who is the apiha Maori for the Northern Distribution Union and on the runanga of the Council of Trade Unions, says people may be surprised at the scale of the layoffs going on and it's hitting Maori communities particularly hard.

“In my patch alone I’ve had about 250, 260 redundancies. Most of them are in the building and forestry area,” Mr Kepa says.

He doubts the government's new 90-day probation period will help to stimulate the economy, and if workers do manage to land new jobs they'll be too nervous about being laid off to spend any money.


New Maori National MP Hekia Parata who resigned from the party in 2004 because she believed it had abandoned principles under leader Don Brash's racial policies is saying there is a whole new set of values within the government.

Hekia Parata who resigned with her husband Wira Gardiner says they came back to National because of the new inclusiveness under the leadership of John Key and Bill English his deputy.

“There’s been a whole hearted recognition of the need to have the broad church that National has always prided itself on having, and as part of that to respond to who New Zealand is now and who New Zealand is becoming, and I think the leadership of the party has done a really good job with that, not only recognising that need but actively seeking out talented and competent people that come from these communities that make up Aotearoa New Zealand,” Ms Parata says.

She says the coalition arrangements put together since the election are clear sign of inclusiveness and preparedness to listen which will produce a brighter future for New Zealand.


The executive chairman of the National Urban Maori Authorities believes he has a key ally.

John Tamihere says after a meeting with the Prime Minister, he's optimistic community groups on the ground will be given more responsibility and resources to address their own social problems.

He says for too long Maori have suffered at the hands of bureaucracy who think they have all the answers, and next year he will put pressure on underperforming government agencies.

Mr Tamihere says he and fellow urban Maori advocate Willie Jackson met recently with John Key to outline some of the initiatives they believe will help address alarmingly poor rates of literacy and numeracy among tamariki.

“Willie and I met with John Key on Friday and he’s extraordinarily supportive of this. I spent six years in the Labour caucus and couldn’t get the type of acknowledgement or support that we get in five minutes off this bloke. It’s amazing really, a real turnaround,” Mr Tamihere says.


However Labour leader Phil Goff says more than a smile is going to be needed in the coming year ahead.

Phil Goff says Prime Minister John Key comes across to most people as a nice guy but what New Zealanders want is strong and effective leadership.

“It’s got to be more than a smile and it’s got be more than trying to be all things to all people. There are hard decisions to make. Those decisions need to be made on behalf of New Zealanders. We will give the best advice we can from the Opposition benches and it’s up to the Government what they accept from us. Where we think they are doing the wrong things, we will be speaking out,” Mr Goff says.

He says there are hard decisions to be made in tough economic times which will continue to affect Maori and Pakeha next year.

He says parliament spent two weeks in urgency but did not address the real issues such as protecting jobs.


Rugby Commentator Ken Laban says the unilateral decision by the NZRFU to deny the Maori squad games next year misses a golden opportunity to further enhance the Maori brand.

The Wainuiomata based broadcaster says a more suitable arrangement could have been brokered had the national body been more open in their consultation process.

He says the Maori squad would provide sterner opposition for the All Blacks Tri nations preparations than recent teams lackluster performances.

Mr Laban says Maori rugby deserves better, and the best Maori players will make the Junior All Blacks next year.


The work of taonga puoro experts Richard Nunns and the late Hirini Melbourne has inspired the inclusion of the sounds of traditional Maori instruments in the $3.5 million rebuild of the Auckland city organ currently being undertaken in Germany.

Auckland city organist John Wells says the oppoprtunity to include the sounds of the koauau, a type of flute, and pukaea, a trumpet within the music to be made by the 97 year organ was too good an opportunity to miss.

He says he sent a DVD by Richard Nunns and Hirini Melbourne playing taonga purora to the rebuilder Richard Kliss which inspired him to include the sound of the Maori instruments.

John Wells says no one will know exactly how the organ sounds until it is fully rebuilt with a date for its first concert set down


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