Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bridge Pa bucket crisis brings water action

Ngati Kahungunu is considering an urgent claim over water allocation in its rohe.

Chairperson Ngahiwi Tomoana says he's calling a Wai summit next month to discuss water quality issues from the Wairarapa to Wairoa.

He says local and regional councils need to be taken to taks for the way they are managing the region's streams, rivers and aquifers.

Mr Tomoana says one Maori community, Bridge Pa, has been without water for three months.

“Surrounding them water is used to irrigate sweet corn and pumpkins and everything else. Everyone is taking advantage of the manaakitanga of our local hapu, Ngati Popoto, and we’ve got horticulture, silviculture, viticulture, but no one is giving two stuffs about Maori culture and so we are still getting people bucketing water to their houses every day,” Mr Tomoana says.

Attention is given to power stations and irrigation rights, no one has been standing up for the rights of individual hapu to streams, wells and traditional fisheries.


Outgoing Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is challenging the Maori Party to prioritise environmental issues.

The Coromandel-based MP says both parties share similar values, including the need to protect papatuanaku.

She says the emergence of the Maori Party resulted in the Green share of the Maori vote, but the two parties can still work effectively to get environmental issues the attention they deserve.

“They've made some very good speeches in Parliament about the importance of the environment but I do note when you look at their agreement with the National Party, there’s no mention of the environment. I know that fundamentally most of them do care but it’s a question of what priority they give it and it would be nice if they and we together could exercise some influence on the National-led government to give the environment greater priority generally,” Ms Fitzsimons says.

She says Te Tiriti O Waitangi is at the core of the Greens' constitution.


Manukau Mayor Len Brown is hoping today's prime ministerial jobs summit in his city will boost prospects for its 45,000 Maori residents.

The presence of business, union and community sector leaders will bring national attention to a city which is not always in the media for the right reasons.

Mr Brown says many south Auckland residents are skilled labour workers, and his focus at the summit will be on education and training.

“When the chips are down, this is when you really get people stepping up and encourage people to learn more, to stay longer in school and in tertiary education and either get academic or trade training skills upgrades so when the next boom comes through, they're ready,” Mr Brown says.


The Council of Trade Unions wants today's jobs summit to come up with ideas to help Maori and other low paid workers weather the economic storms ahead.

CTU president Helen Kelly says 12 union representatives are among the 150 people invited to the Manukau events centre.

She says their focus will be economic stimulus, job retention and transition initiatives for people who lose their jobs

“We want to see initiatives that build the economy and a lot of those are in the Maori economy. We’re hoping to see proposals around the utilization of Maori assets and helping those be developed to their full potential but also areas where there are large groups of Maori workers, we want to see initiatives around retention that support firms to retain workers in jobs,” Ms Kelly says.

Whatever comes out of the summit, workers will have to face the reality that from Sunday they face a new work probation system which allows employers to sack them without reason in the first 90 days.


Meanwhile, Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Parekura Horomia is welcoming discussions by smaller iwi about creating an investment fund.

The former Maori affairs minister says the initiative could improve job opportunities for Maori.

But he says individual Maori need to step up and get the education and training they need to benefit from a post-settlement environment.

“We need to be realistic about the labour market. It’s about skill sets, it’s about getting our people in there and it’s about making sure they are well trained so they can help their own and I think it’s a good idea. Any idea where iwi can come together and collectivise their assets is a good idea,” Mr Horomia says.

It is critical Maori workers are trained not just for labouring jobs but for management and administration.


The first specialist degree for Maori nurses is trying to fill its seats before classes start next month.

Te Ohanga Mataora is a three year degree in health sciences delivered by Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi in partnership with the National Council of Maori nurses and the Maori Health Providers Collective.

Programme manager Hineroa Hakiaha from Ngati Awa and Tuhoe says about half of the 30 places are taken, and it's still looking for students who are passionate about Maori health and wellbeing.

She says the three year degree will give graduates all the clinical skills of a mainstream qualification, as well as an extra dimension.

“The ingredient that is added to that is te Ao Maori, nga tikanga e paneke te reo, nga tikanga e paneke te whanaungatanga me te ahuatanga e paneke te tangata. It’s very much Maori concepts that will drive the kaupapa and ensure students that come through are very strong in tea o Maori but also very very strong in the clinical aspects of tauiwi,” Ms Hakiaha says.

Te Ohanga Mataora is being delivered at Te Wananga o Aotearoa's Mangere campus, and it will also make use of facilities at Unitec, Middlemore Hospital and with Maori health providers.


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