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Friday, February 13, 2009

Tainui picking new executive

Tainui's Parliament this weekend picks a new executive to take it forward over the next three years.

The last days of the old executive was marked by a split between the two bodies over a restructuring plan, leading not only to court action but to battles at marae level which effectively blocked some experienced hands from re-election to Te Ara Taura.

Executive chair Tukoroirangi Morgan says it's an important test for Tainui as it picks 10 members from the 30 candidates.

“The tribe should be concentrating their focus around ensuring there is continuity, there is institutional memory, that the members who are there now, that there should be some carryover.

“More importantly, there are a number of issues to be competed. The river issue is to be sorted completely and finally, and then there is the prospect of public private partnerships that we got an agreement with the government at Waitangi in terms of infrastructural projects, building more schools, courthouses, roads and the like in our own rohe,” Mr Morgan says.

If he's re-elected on to Te Ara Taura, he will again seek the chair.


A leading educational researcher says there is now little doubt that teachers hold the key to improving Maori educational achievement.

Stuart McNaughton, the director of Auckland University's Woolf Fisher Research Centre, says the success of a pilot conducted in south Auckland showed how reading levels could be boosted.

Teachers were taught how to use assessment to modify the way they approached individual students.

He says the research points the way to large scale programmes.

“Maori students we know respond to teachers who believe in them, who are capable of teaching them well, who give very good feedback and in the programme in the schools, this pint about coming to know the students well but also designing instruction that was really effective for them,” Professor McNaughton says.

Reading age improved by a year on average during the study.


A new initiative could pick up signs of mental illness among Maori earlier.

The District Health Board Research Fund is putting $1 million into a research project which will use general practitioners as the front line of mental health care.

Spokesperson David Codyre says the GPs will be given a set of simple procedures to detect mental health problems and offer besic treatment or referral.

He says what may be thought of as normal problems can quickly become abnormal if not properly diagnosed and treated.

“The epidemiology studies have shown that Maori are slightly more likely to get depression, anxiety – drug alcohol issues evolve at times of stress in their life, but more particularly when they get a condition, they are likely to have it to a more severe degree,” Dr Codyre says intervention at a primary health care level is far cheaper than delaying until it is so serious it needs to be covered by the specialist mental health services.


Tainui chair Tukoroirangi Morgan says tribes need to look at building up the leadership skills of their young people.

Tainui's Parliament, Te Kauhanganui, will this weekend elect a new executive to run the tribe's affairs over the next three years.

Thirty candidates are vying for 10 positions.

Mr Morgan says Tainui is now a $700 million business, and that creates challenges Maori organisations have not encountered before.
“As I look at the skill base of those who put their hands up, I have to say that the pool of leadership is very thin. The skills that are required to deal other iwi in terms of our economic joint ventures, all of those with government agencies, to deal with those things, those young ones coming through are very scarce,” Mr Morgan says.

The new executive will need to tackle a major restructure of the organisation, the completion of the Waikato river settlement, and the prospect of Tainui entering into partnership with the Crown on infrastructure projects in its region.


Meanwhile, Ngai Tahu's kaiwhakahere is sounding a note of caution on the contribution iwi can make to job creation.

The size of the Maori economy is being talked up in advance of this month's jobs summit, particularly because Maori have historically had higher rates of unemployment and tend to be concentrated in areas of the economy which are vulnerable in economic downturns.

Mark Solomon says as a company Ngai Tahu has a duty to preserve its assets for future generations.

“Ngai Tahu currently employs about 500 people. There is no way Ngai Tahu or any other tribe in the country is gong to be able to solve the unemployment issues of its people. We just do not have the resources and I think we need to take cognizance of that. The settlements just can’t cover that,” Mr Solomon says.


Past and present members of an innovative mental health scholarship programe are today holding a symposium to assess its contribution to the sector.

Te Rau Puawai is celebrating its tenth anniversary of increasing the skills of Maori in the mental health workforce.

Massey University professor Mason Durie, who created the initiative, says it came out of concern there weren't enough people in the mental health workforce who could give culturally relevant care to Maori.

He says it brought a different kind of student into the university's extramural programmes.

“Most of the students who got these scholarships have been working full; time in mental health facilities, are older students, and have probably had no previous experience in tertiary education. So from that point of view you would think there chances of success weren’t high. In fact we have had consistently pass rates of over 80 percent,” Professor Durie says

Te Rau Puawai offers a high level of support to the students it invests in and more than half of the 200 graduates have come back for masters and even doctoral level study.


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