Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Energy best spent undermining prisons

A prominent Maori clergyman has given the thumbs down to Maori running prisons.

The Maori Party is backing the Government's plans to offer prison management contracts to private sector operators, because it says the policy creates opportunities to introduce kaupapa Maori into the prison system.

But Hone Kaa, who heads a trust aimed at reducing violence in Maori homes, says Maori should be trying to pull prisons down rather than build them up.

“Prisons are dehumanizing institutions and whoever takes on the contract has to work according to Corrections Department regulations. We can intervene at all different points and I’d sooner we put energy into that than putting energy into saying ‘let’s manage the prisons’. That’s an admission of defeat,” Dr Kaa says.

KIDNEY CHECKS ESSENTIAL TO SLOW SPREAD OF SILENT DISEASE

It's World Kidney Day, and Maori are being urged to act on a silent disease which could be lurking in their bodies.

Kelvin Lynn, Kidney Health New Zealand's medical director, says high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure mean Maori are more at risk of developing severe kidney disease.

Lifestyle changes, regular excercise and stopping smoking can reduce the risk.

Professor Lynn says because chronic kidney disease is silent, it's important Maori get screened before their condition gets so bad they need dialysis.

Kidney Health New Zealand screened for kidney disease at parliament in Wellington today to raise awareness.

UNITEC WHARENUI PREPARED FOR COMPLETION

A corner of Unitec is a hive of activity this evening as a new whare is readied to open tomorrow.

The Auckland polytechnic is one of the last major tertiary institutions to get a marae, and the project has taken master carver Lyonel Grant and his small team five years to complete.

Mr Grant says his decision to go back to 19th century design techniques and treat the carvings as structural elements created challenges for the builders.

“Despite the fact the carvings have names that suggest a function, they don’t actually perform that function. With this house, I was keen to return back to the thing when you say a poupou is a poupou, it is going to support the wall. The heke is going to carry the ceiling and so on. So just that alone had required a major shift in the way the industry works, because the industry is geared to a predetermined structure we put art into, so we are just making wallpaper,” Mr Grant says.

The carvings in the house tell the history of Tamaki Makaurua.

LABOUR CHALLENGES MAORI PARTY FORESHORE RHETORIC

The Maori Party is crying foul over Labour's attempts to call Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples to account for his statements on the Foreshore and Seabed Act review.

In Parliament yesterday, Labour's Michael Cullen tried to ask about Dr Sharples quip that if the three member review panel failed to recommend major changes, they should be sacked and replaced.

He also says Dr Sharples is telling Maori there is a chance of full-scale ownership of the foreshore and seabed on a broad basis, despite the Court of Appeal finding this would only happen in rare cases.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says the questions were rightly ruled out because the Maori Affairs Minister does not have responsibility for the review.

"They then turned it around to make it look as if Pete was weak, National was undermining his authority as if they could. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience in the House yesterday but I expect we will see more of that because that’s usually a strategy in Labour to completely undermine people and try to portray people as not having a good grasp on their portfolio,” Mrs Turia says.

NATIONAL NOT A GOOD SCREEN TO HIDE BEHIND

But Labour's Nanaia Mahuta says the Maori Party can't keep relying on the government for protection when it gets into trouble.

The Waikato-Hauraki MP says Pita Sharples's comment about sacking the Foreshore and Seabed review panel creates an impression the outcome is predetermined, which is not good for public confidence.

She says the Maori Party has sold its supporters a pipe dream about what is achievable even if the Act was changed.

“The foreshore and seabed legislation provides about three avenues for Maori to have their customary rights and interests recognised. The Maori Party really can’t say what of those processes they don’t agree with and in fact they want to scrap the bill and send everybody back to the Maori Land Court and very few iwi hapu groups will be able to claim an interest on the foreshore and seabed under that scenario, so they need to come clean with some of the things they are telling the general public,” Ms Mahuta says.

MAORI VITAL FOR MENTAL HEALTH ATTITUDE CHANGE

The Mental Health Foundation has acknowledged its Maori caucus for helping change New Zealanders' attitudes towards mental health.

A national seminar which started in Auckland today has brought together service providers for the Like Minds, Like Mine campaign to share experiences and build networks.

Chief executive Judi Clements says the foundation's Maori arm has gone from strength to strength over the decade-long campaign.

“From being not a prominent part of the programme, the Maori caucus is now at the heart of the programme and influencing the whole of the programme. There is going to be a Maori resources, a document specifically drawn up by and for and will be acted on by Maori, but again it will influence the whole of the programme,” she says.

Ms Clements says there are still major challenges to reduce stigma and discrimination for people with mental illness

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