Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Indigenous Trails website top in class

A Maori tourism company from Tauranga has won an international award linked to the United Nations for its website and commitment to the environment.

Up against 15 other companies from around the globe, Indigenous Trails won the Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award 2009 at the International Fair for Alternative Travel in Germany at the weekend.

Indigenous Trails owner Des Harris says the company won against indigenous businesses from Australia, Bolivia, Canada and Kenya, among others.

“I was absolutely ecstatic about the award. I think it’s a great day for the small Maori team we have here in Tauranga Moana,” Mr Harris says.

The company operates tours, which encompass walks, through Tauranga Moana, the Bay of Islands and Auckland, only using Maori guides.

They also create itineraries for tourists travelling to other areas of New Zealand wanting to experience Maori culture _ using only authentic tangata whenua owned and operated companies.

The award is run collectively by Planeta.com, an ecotourism website, and the UN-run Convention on Biological Diversity.


Ngati porou claims negotiator Apirana Mahuika says the decision by the Minister of Treaty Negotiations to enlist the help of a former parliamentary opponent is visionary.

Apirana Mahuika says Chris Finlayson's move to draft former Labour MP Paul Swain to head the Crown's negotiating team for the claim shows he is not bound by convention.

Mr Mahuika says Ngati Porou can work pragmatically with Mr Swain, who retired from politics at the last election to run his own consultancy firm.

“Finlayson has gone out of the National Party to make these appointments. I think it’s a health sign of a person who is liberal-minded and looking at people whom he thinks can best serve the interests of the Crown going forward in these negotiations,” Mr Mahuika says.

Experts in indigenous mental health from around the world are meeting in Palmerston North to share their knowledge with Maori mental health practitioners and to learn what they can from the New Zealand experience.

Organiser Dr Te Kani Kingi, who is director of Te Mata o Te tau - the Academy for Maori Research and Scholarship at Massey university, says contributors have come from Canada, Australia and the United States to the three day conference which ends today.

“Different countries have taken different approaches to developing indigenous perspectives or incorporating indigenous perspectives within mental health treatment and care and policy, so it’s an opportunity for us to see how these indigenous world views have been incorporated within the design of mental health infrastructure throughout a number of different countries,” Dr Kingi says.

He says in many ways Maori have led the way in providing mental health treatment and care in a culturally sustainable way.


Treaty negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson believes the Treaty Settlement process is too important for bi-partisan politics saying he is determined to appoint the best person for the job in spite of their politics.

His comments come with his appointment of former longtime Labour cabinet minister Paul Swain to head the Crown team negotiating the Ngati Porou claim.

“The fact that people belong to the Labour Party doesn’t make them enemies of the state in my view. They may have that view of us but I certainly don’t have it of them. And when people move on from politics and I think that they are good people with skills, then I certainly will be asking them if they will help,” Mr Finlayson says.

He says Paul Swain did a good job as a minister and comes with a good knowledge of government, technical skills and a trade union background which will serve him well as a negotiator.

Paul Swain's appointment has been welcomed by Ngati Porou with claims negotiator Apirana Mahuika describing it as visionary.


Meanwhile a campaign to encourage more input to Ngati Porou treaty settlements has exceeded all expectations.

The East Coast tribe launched radio and televison ads on Waitangi Day featuring prominent Natis like Willie Jackson, John Tamihere and Te Hamua Nikora to encourage uri to register online.

Organiser Te Rau Kupenga says the response has been phenomenal, with more than 12 thousand hits on Te Haeata website, as whanau from across the globe sign up to have their say.

He says the iwi will this month launch a new website featuring Nati world, a Maori take on Google Earth.

“What we want is to map where all our whanaunga are, so it’s like Facebook and Bebo and those social networking pages. If I’m in Uzbekistan and I want to know if I’ve got any whanaunga in that country, I go on the site. It’s great of a person from Wharepunga looks on and sees he’s got a relation from Waipiro or from Tolaga just round the corner. The idea of this Nati World program is to put ourselves in touch with ourselves, no matter where we are,” Mr Kupenga says.

The term Nati comes from Te wiwi Nati … a term of endearment used by Sir Apirana Ngata to the young people of Ngati Porou.


A leader in Maori research says in many ways New Zealand has set an example in the way Maori with mental health problems have been cared for.

Dr Te Kani Kingi who is director of the Academy for Maori Research and Scholarship at Massey university - Te Mata o te Tau says the New Zealand experience is being closely studied by visitors from Canada, Australia and the United States at a three day conference which concludes at Massey University in Palmerston North today.

“As far back as the mid-1980s with Maori mental health services such as Whaiora at Tokanui, there has been some considerable development since then and Maori have continued to lead the way, particularly with respect to exploring the cultural-clinical interface,” Dr Kingi says.

At the same time New Zealand leaders in Maori mental health care are learning from those working with indigenous people in other countries.


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