Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Maori firefighters to cross Tasman

The thoughts of the Maori community will be traveling across the Tasman if Prime Minister John Key's offer to provide Australia with New Zealand fire fighters to battle the fires in Victoria is taken up.

Piki Thomas who is National Maori Advisor with the New Zealand Fire Service says that those sent will be coming from rural fire services, including Maori staff.

Piki Thomas says Australia and New Zealand now have co-ordinated systems of fire fighting so the New Zealanders willfit into the Australian situation easily.


Maori party MP and activist Hone Harawira says unlike Green party MP's Keith Locke and Jeanette Fitzsimmons he will not be seeking a copy of his Secret Security Service files.

Hone Harawira says it has been common knowledge within the Maori political movement since the 70's that the SIS has kept files on them.

“It’s a sick and sad indictment on this society that people who advocate for social change are going to get investigated, particularly with this threat of terrorism and how low the standards are to bring someone up on terrorism charges, so it’s kind of scary for mainstream New Zealand but not a particular fuss for people like myself,” Mr Harawira says.

He says during a Waitangi protest some years ago, he and others who had chained themselves to a scaffold were able to shift the structure and got to see information held about them by the SIS.


While there has been controversy about the flying of a maori flag at various places around the country on Waitangi Day including on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and at the Treaty grounds no such debate surfaced in Dunedin where the rangatiratanga flag flow without objection on the civic building.

Reitu Cassidy, who helped organised Waitangi celebrations in the city, says the flag flying was supported by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin.

“One of the whanau works there and we just put the call in as we did last year and he was happy to put the flag up. There was no debate, no discussion really and it was really cool for us to have it flying,” Ms Cassidy says.

Reitu Cassidy says it is a good indication of the council's openness to listen to Maori.

Prime Minister John Key has said he is relaxed about a Maori flag flying on public buildings next year and he has asked Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples to determine which Maori flag should fly.


Maori community organiser John Tamihere says attending Barack Obama's presidential breakfast prayer meeting in the United States has been a real eye opener and he is predicting there will be benefits for the poor of New Zealand from his trip.

John Tamihere says one of the things he intends to look into when he returns to New Zealand is systems of micro financing which draw on the wealth of those at the bottom end of the heap.

“There are alternatives to banks. There are credit unions. There are other financial organizational capacity where the bottom end of town has to group together to protect itself and when the top end of town become dirty filthy slimy crooks as they have become and the bottom end of town will rescue them, as usual, because the bottom end of town is having to guarantee their lifestyles,” Mr Tamihere says.


Prime Minister John Key says the Resource Management Reforms leaving Treaty provisions in are an example of the way his government intends to work to get balanced legislation.

John Keys says the Government does not live in fantasy land with there being fiscal restraints so not everyone will be able to be pleased by what the government does or doesn't do.

However he is confident about the government's approach.

“What I do think we will get form the variety of relationships we have got, whether it is from the Maori Party or United or Act or potentially the Greens, we will hopefully get legislation and rules and regulations which are balanced and in the best interests of New Zealanders and I think you got that in the RMA reforms. We listened to the Maori Party, we listened to our own Maori caucus and we listened to the technical advisory group. In the end we didn’t alter section 8 in relation to the treaty because we believed to leave it intact was the right thing to do,” Mr Key says.


The cream of the crop of young Maori environmentalists began a journey today that could end in working for their iwi according to the department of conservation.

Tauira Kaitiaki Taiao, a 21 month conservation management course was launched at Waitetoko Marae near Lake Taupo today, involving 15 rangatahi nominated by iwi with, or soon to have responsibility for large areas of conservation lands.

Paul Green, the conservator of the Tongariro Taupo Conservancy, says the pilot cadetship was a positive move for the future of iwi around the country.

“Once they’ve graduated one or two might stay in DOC but more likely they’ll move on to managing their own lands or DOC will have joint collaborative agreements managing different bits of land, or they will for Nga Whenua Rahui, lots of opportunities,” Mr Green says.

The cadetship was a good way to promote tikanga Maori, as well as building relationships between iwi and conservation agencies.

The programme is a partnership between Nga Whenua Rahui, Te Puni Kokiri and the Department of Conservation with training provided by Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and Te Wananga o Aotearoa.


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