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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, February 06, 2009

Drama on Waitangi marae

The Maori King has been welcomed onto Waitangi marae.

In the blazing sunshine of the Bay of Islands, the manuhiri were thankful for the newly-erected shelters covering the paepae.

King Tuheitia arrived with a large group of elders and an equally large group of kai hoe there to paddle the six waka taua Tainui has brought up from Ngaruawahia.

Ngapuhi too had a large contingent of paddlers to back its speakers.

The return of the Kingitanga to the Bay of Islands is a sign some of the political heat of part Waitangi commemorations may have gone out of the even … for now.

There are debates going on in the background though – the flag flying above the marae as a symbol of the rangatiratanga of the north is the 1835 Confederation flag, not the one designed in the 1990s by Kawariki protesters.

MAORI GET FIFTH OF HEALTH RESEARCH FUNDING

Maori are welcoming the latest district health board research funding round which sees $330,000 going to Maori focused initiatives from $1.6 million dished out.

The Maori projects are all diabetes related. They include funding for research into self-management education, reducing the impact of related foot disease and a Diabetes Retinal Screening System.

Aroha Haggie from the Health Research Council says it's the diversity of the diabetes research that's exciting.

She says the research will be beneficial if Maori are involved in the design, and execution of research, as well as being participants and users.

COMMUNITY LAW CENTRE CUTS WILL HIT MAORI

A Maori human rights lawyer says Maori will be most affected by an expected 44 percent drop in Community Law centre funding in the coming year.

However Moana Jackson says although the government has told those managing community law centers to expect the cut it has an out because it doesn't actually fund the centres - lawyers do through their fidelity fund.

“The few remaining Maori law centers are as usual most affected by those restrictive practices and the move now is to restrict them even more,” Mr Jackson says.

The Legal Services Agency which funds the centers has been imposing really tight restrictions on funding for a number of years.

ROYAL HOUSES PART OF TREATY COMMEMORATION

The royal houses of Polynesia have gathered in Waitangi to celebrate New Zealand's national day.

The presence of King Tuheitia at Waitangi for the first time since he took the throne has drawn other ariki families from round the Pacific.

King Tuheitia came on to Te Tii Marae with crown princess Salope Pitolevu Tuita from Tonga, along with iwi chairs who are holding their own hui at Waitangi tomorrow.

The Tongans brought with them traditional gifts of fine mats.

Already on the home paepae, hving come in earlier, were members of the Tahitian and Rarotongan royal families.

So much blue blood proved disconcerting for some on the Ngapuhi paepae, which is known for its red-blooded lack of hierarchy – Ngapuhi kohao rau, or Ngapuhi of a hundred holes.

This was evident when Ngapuhi Runanga member Hone Sadler tried to cut off Muriwhenua chairman Rima Edwards from speaking.

Mr Edwards persisted, setting the record straight on a 160-year old exchange between Ngapuhi prophet Aperahama Taonui and King Tuheitia’s ancestor Tawhiao.

HAMILTON WELCOMES EVERYONE TO WAITANGI EVENT

While a contingent of Tainui, including the Kingitanga, celebrates Waitangi Day in the north, there are plenty left in Hamilton to commemorate the national day.

Te Hauwhenua Kirkwood, from Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa, says organisers behind the regions seventh Waitangi day event are excited about Friday's lineup at Innes Common near the Hamilton Lake.

He says although its commonly thought of as a Maori holiday, there has been a lot of interest from non-Maori.

“I would like encourage all New Zealanders, and especially our Pakeha friends to come down to Waitangi Day here at Hamilton lake and participate in being together as one people celebrating who we are, where we come from and where we are going,” Mr Kirkwood says.

MITCHELLS WIN VICTORIA UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP

A Nelson couple's commitment to recording the Maori history of that region has been rewarded with a research fellowship from Victoria University.

John Mitchell, from Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa, and his wife Hilary have spent over twenty years compiling series of books on Maori in Nelson and Marlborough, and have been given funding by the University's Stout Research Centre to complete volume four - Nga Rangatira o Te Tau Ihu: The Chiefs of Nelson-Marlborough.

Dr Mitchell says their books were initially triggered by kaumatua wanting a generic history written to underpin Waitangi Tribunal claims in the late 80's.

“A lot of this material wasn’t really relevant to treaty issues but now it’s come into its won with all the additional stuff we’ve gathered up so suddenly you’ve got enough for a book and then another book,” he says.

The Mitchells also received a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to help with the completion of the third volume in the series.

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