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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Unprecedented cooperation at jobs summit

West Auckland Maori leader John Tamihere says this week's Maori jobs summit showed a mood of co-operation that would have been unattainable a decade ago.

The hui brought together Maori involved in business and iwi development to discuss how Maori could be insulated from the effects of the global economic crisis.

He says long standing raruraru was shelved, as people faced the challenges ahead.

“I'm not interested in the tribal argument any more. I’m, not interested in the urban iwi argument any more. I’m interested in us cooperating to advance us, so that hui changed a whole lot of paradigms for me. I’m talking to a whole bunch of people who 15 years ago I could only talk to with lawyer’s letters. That’s a huge shift and I think it will be hugely advantageous as a consequence,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says Maori affairs Minister Pita Sharples showed his political savvy by pre-empting the Prime Minister's economic summit later this month, and putting Maori economic issues on the front foot at the start of the political year.


Meanwhile Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says Maori laid off because of the recession should go back to school.

Mrs Turia says the government's proposed investments in infrastructure development might pick up some of the Maori likely to lose their jobs in the months ahead.

But she says it's a good opportunity for others to think about their long term futures, as often happens at this time in the economic cycle.

“It mightn't hurt them to bite the bullet for two or three years and get some education behind them so that these issues don’t arise every time there’s a downturn in the employment market. Part of the problem is many of our people are in unskilled jobs and they’re the last on, first off when employers are finding it hard to make ends meet,” Mrs Turia says.

The two or three years of hardship involved in getting an education at a later stage of life can pay off in the long term economic prospects for their families.


Waitangi comes almost a week early in Australia for some Maori living in Brisbane.

Waitangi 2009, an all day commemoration with Haka, entertainers and food, will be held this Sunday so maori living in the area can get together without taking a day off work and sport.

Nga Bartlett, the founder and President of Te Korowai Aroha, says she and many other maori felt a growing need to support their people within their current diverse Brisbane community.

“We wanted to involve ourselves in what’s happening and help our people, especially in such a diverse environment because in the area we’re living in, there’s 171 nationalities or ethnicities so we want to look at how we can best assist our people, especially those fresh off the boat, and there’s a lot of other Maori organisations doing the same thing,” says Mrs Bartlett, who has been in Australia for 30 years.

They expecting crowds of 10,000 plus this Sunday for the celebration.


A Maori leader believes Maori justice may be a way of beating crime among maori with offenders forced to suffer the huge embarrassment of appearing before their own people rather than being hidden away in the court system.

Support for a Maori justice system as proposed by human rights lawyer Moana Jackson comes from Maori party MP Te Ururoa Flavell in response to the gang related killing of 16-year-old Murapara teenager Jordon Herewini on Tuesday night.

“Those people who commit murders and crimes like this should be taken in front of the people they have hurt and in a public form, not just a small courthouse. You can be pretty brave in a courthouse and in front of a lot of peers who aren’t your whanau and aren’t your hapu but put you in front of the people you have hurt so the people who are hurting can see these people and feel the shame and feel the anger, and then take them away and do their time,” Mr Flavell says.

He spent the day attending the tangi of Jordon Herewini, whom he knew and describes as a really nice kid.

Police say they are closing in on the person who allegedly chased down and ran over Herewini because he was wearing a school uniform identified with the colours of a rival gang.


Fellow Maori party MP and Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples was meanwhile in Auckland attending the funeral of another teenager killed in tragic circumstances - Tongan courier driver Halatau Naitoko.

Pita Sharples says his attendance was a way of sharing the grief of the community, family and friends of the 17 year old who died after he was caught in police cross fire during the motorway chase of an armed man last Friday.

“We received a call the Maori presence there wasn’t very strong and it should have been and to those who have been, I appreciate it. That’s what we’re are about,” Dr Sharples.

Other politicians including Police Minister Judith Collins who joined more than 1000 mourners at the traditional Tongan funeral in Mangere East.


An early Waitangi Day for Maori across the Tasman but no day off!

Nga Bartlett, the founder and President of Te Korowai Aroha, says a day off was not the motivating factor for setting up a Waitangi Day celebration in her culturally diverse Brisbane community.

“I set up Waitangi Day to take it away from the Pakeha who were using our Maori people and using Waitangi Day to raise money for their business as a draw card for people to drink. My committee put in straight away a no alcohol policy and making Waitangi Day a family day,” she says.

The Waitangi Day 2009 event is this Sunday and will also be a fundraiser for the haka group Tautoko who are coming home for Te Matatini Kapahaka Nationals in February.


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