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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 02, 2009

Time to tackle gang issues

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says it time for Maori to come up with the answers to address gang related murders and crimes of violence.

Dr Sharples has come out in support of fellow Maori party MP Te Ururoa Flavell's call for a Maori system of justice following the killing of Murupara teenager Jordon Herewini last week when he was innocently caught up in warfare between the Tribesmen and Mongrel Mob gangs.

He also supports Te Ururoa Flavell's call for discussion across Maoridom as to whether gang members who commit crimes of violence should not be given a marae tangi.

This is in contrast to views expressed by some Murupara locals.

“Now a lady spoke up and said ‘The Tribesmen have been part of Murupara for years, they are our mokopuna and nephews.’ Exactly. That’s half the problem. They are our mokopuna, and we are powerless to stop them from fighting so what is the price? Just tolerate them and let them kill us off one by one and that kind of thing? Or do we make a stand. I think that’s what Te Ururoa’s really searching, asking our people to come up with the answers, and it is time now, it is really time,” Dr Sharples says

Murupara residents believe 16-year-old Jordan Herewini was hunted tracked down and run over because he was wearing a school shirt reflecting gang colours.


Labour is calling a government commitment to provide an extra $13 million a year to community health organisations to kick start the devolution of primary health care as a pittance which will do little to help Maori and other needy groups.

Annette King who was Minister of Health in the last government says the $13 million extra for primary health which was signalled as National policy and Health Minister Tony Ryall has confirmed will be allocated in the next budget is insignificant.

“The money that’s gone into primary health, even when I was minister, is over $1 billion. That was through your primary health organisations, really well operating organisations, a lot of them were Maori, Pacific, our low income ones, have really benefited from the primary health strategy we put in place as government and the funding we put behind it and the devolution to primary heath organisations. The National Party said at the time it was race based funding,” Ms King says.

Maori health providers have been stars in the primary health strategy being prepared to get stuck in and help people before they have to go to hospital.


The chairman of Maori rugby league says the priority for administrators is to ensure Maori have regular competition against Pacific rim teams, to enhance prospects of the inclusion of a Maori squad at the next World Cup in five years.

Howie Tamati says a strategic planning hui held in Auckland over the weekend recognised the importance of regular fixtures against the Australian indigenous squad, and Pacific teams who unlike Maori, have participatory rights in World Cup competitions.

That will build on momentum created by the Maori squad’s first ever match against an Aboriginal team, in the build up to last year’s World Cup.

“If we can play the Pacific nations, the nations that made up the numbers in the World Cup, and we’re successful in playing them, putting up a good brand of rugby league but also providing another pathway for New Zealand rugby league in terms of selections for players looking for league and also Maori rugby league,” Mr Tamati says.


An expert on gangs believes there is an opportunity to end gangism in New Zealand but it won’t be achieved by the kind of exclusion being suggested by Te Ururoa Flavell.

The Maori party MP is calling for discussion on whether Maori who commit crimes of violence should be barred from marae tangi.

Denis O'Reilly, who is a life member of Black Power and who has been working with a number of gangs to address conflicts, says a dialogue about gangs is long overdue but heading down the exclusion path will not work.

He says every Maori gang member has a whakapapa and he sees the answer in hapu accepting gang members and gang members putting hapu first.

“I think that people would like to come home and there is an opportunity to end gangism as we know it and we need leadership from our tribal leaders, from our politicians and from our gang leaders to achieve that. It won’t be achieved by exclusion. It won’t be achieved by further alienating people and saying ‘you’re no longer part of us,’” Mr O'Reilly says.

He can understand Te Ururoa Flavell’s feeling of hurt and concern but exclusion hasn't worked in the past and won’t work now.


Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples believes he is going to have to toughen up in facing the inevitable criticism of being a government minister.

The Maori party co-leader says he is not reacting well to the criticism which comes with representing both Maori and the Crown.

“I do hurt but it’s not really about me but it’s really hard being in that position when you’re really trying to do something and someone sees it as so negative and without even giving it a chance or is on the other side or are saying how dare you tramp on my mana and stuff like this when I’m more of a referee than the one doing the trampling, but I accept that’s part of the job and I just have to toughen up,” Dr Sharples says.


Waipareira Trust head John Tamihere leaves for Washington today, for a conference involving delegates from 165 countries who will discuss how to improve the delivery of core health and education services.

The politician turned broadcaster says it is one of many conferences in the United States capital after a change in leadership, as tens of thousands of bureaucrats change roles.

He’s particularly looking forward to the presidential prayer breakfast hosted by Barack Obama, and the chance to network with delegates with strategies applicable to the New Zealand context.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity to understand how power is developed and implemented in the States. They do some things very well. They do some things very bad. It’s a matter of picking up what’s good to be applied back home, networking and getting back and doing the business,” Mr Tamihere says.


Blogger kyro said...

It's all very well saying gangs are people to but whatever they are they kill first and never ask questions. The mongrel mob killed my partners son Jordan Herewini - they didn't see a son - a brother -a boy becoming a man - they saw a 'colour' and according to Tuhoe Isaac an ex-mob member - gangs are gangs first Maori second or n some cases never. Maybe the black power are diffrent - the mob are mobsters first and foremost. They killed Jordan and as far as I am concerned they have no rights - they took his future....

So I support Te Ururoa Flavell's call to refuse convicted gang members their own tangi on marae.

10:56 AM  

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