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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whanganui vote two short of h

Wanganui Maori are surprised by the close nature of a vote on the question of adding the letter "h" to the city's name at a special meeting of the Wanganui District Council yesterday.

Local iwi group Te Runanga o Tupoho spokesperson Ken Mair who has led an application to the Geographic Board to have the "h" included against the wishes of Mayor Michael Laws says he was very heartened by the voting even though the council voted against including the "h".

“From our point of view we were surprised five councilors stood up and voted to have the ‘h’ returned to our name. It was a close decision, 7-5, if you count the mayor,” Mr Mair says.

Previously the iwi would have been lucky to get one council supporting them so to get the support of five was a tremendous feeling.


Green party co-leader contender Metiria Turia says a Maori perspective would be part of the skill set she would bring if elected to replace Jeanette Fitzsimmons who has announced she will be resigning at the party's annual meeting in June.

Metiria Turei says one of her contributions to the party has been bringing a Maori perspective to political issues such as the seabed and foreshore debate, privatisation of prisons and Maori development.

“One of the skills I bring from my Maori background to the co-leadership is understanding the importance of the group as being the primary driver of policy but also of power, and co-leadership in the Greens, very much like leadership in Maoridom, is about facilitating the group to be the leaders. In the Green Party, our leaders aren’t our bosses. Our leaders serve us, and I think I Maoridom that is the case as well,” Ms Turei says.

She would expect to attract maori voters to the party if elected as a co-leader.


A bastardisation of the haka Ka Mate by one of the world's most renowned theatre companies the Stratford-upon-Avon Royal Shakespeare company has sadden Maori.

Ngati Toa spokesperson Matiu Rei says if reports of the company's production of Taming of Shrew which opened in London last week are correct it is deeply insulting.

Matiu Rei says there is little the iwi can do other than expressing its disappointment and concern to the company which it will be doing.


Green party co-leader contender Metiria Turia says she has been flooded with support particularly from Maori since she announced she will be seeking the position vacated by Jeanette Fitzsimmons who has announce she will be stepping down in June.

Metiria Turia says she would bring a Maori perspective to the leadership which she feels would be of appeal to Maori voters.

“I've had a great deal of support, heaps of emails, and also a lot of support from Maori saying they’d really like to see me taking on that role as a Maori woman. Doesn’t qualify me for the job but it is a skill set I bring to the role. It’s really helpful knowing that there is very little resistance to the Maori women being the co-leader of what is primarily a Pakeha membnership based party,” Metiria Turia says.

If elected as a co-leader she would be the first Maori woman to co-lead a non-Maori party

Metiria Turia says while being Maori isn't her key qualifier for the position the election of a relative young Maori woman to the leadership would say a lot for the party.


Wairarapa Maori say they are totally opposed to a planned $21 million sewerage plant which would pump Masterton and the surrounding districts discharge into the Ruamahunga River.

Iwi spokesperson Haami Te Whaiti says they are making their views known at hearings by a sub-committee of the Greater Wellington Regional Council which began in Masterton yesterday.

“We’ve got a problem that’s been round for a long time and is going to take more than us and thank goodness we’ve got some local Pakeha people who are as keen to see their sewage in a lang based option, irrigated to land rather than being discharged into the river,” Mr Te Whaiti says.

Local people are calling the river the sewer mahunga rather than the Ruamahanga.


Whanganui Maori are commending five district councillors for their courage in standing up and supporting tangata whenua in having the letter "h" included in the city's name.

Te Runanga o Tupoho spokesperson Ken Mair, who has led an application to the NZ Geographic board to have "h" included, says he was surprised and heartened by the support even though a vote on the matter was lost 8 to 5 at a special meeting of the council yesterday.

He says the fact that the councilors supported the iwi against the wishes of mayor Michael Laws has left local Maori with a tremendous feeling of support that they have not known previously.


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