Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maori Party backs prison privatisation

The Maori Party says it is supporting the privatisation of prisons, not for any potential monetary gains, but for the Maori currently overpopulating the jails.

Hone Harawira says allowing Maori organisations to run their own prisons and instilling Kaupapa Maori values would mean fewer Maori stuck in a cycle of crime.

He says he cares nothing for the profit to be gained by the Maori businesses.

“We are ready to step up to the plate and say ‘give us a shot, we can’t do worse than the last guys, and we think we can do a hell of a lot better,’ so if anyone has any twisted notion in their mind that the Maori Party is doing this top generator for Maori businesses, they are dead wrong. We are doing this because our people are dying in prisons and we want to stop that from happening,” Mr Harawira says.


A former Ngai Tahu Treaty negotiator says the tribe has no right to charge commercial fisherman to use Te Waihora, Lake Ellesmere.

Rik Tau says Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu's decision to charge five eelers shows a lack of integrity for their 1998 Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Mr Tau says the fisherman are protected under the quota management system and for the runanga to charge an 8 percent fee on the basis of lake restoration is simply a revenue gathering front.

“I think it’s the pursuit of cash Maoris wanting money. The damage to Lake Ellesmere, I have no problem if they are looking at improving the quality of the lake, the lake bed, the water in Lake Ellesmere but it does not fall on the fisherman,” Mr Tau says.

He says Ngai Tahu, the Fishing Industry Board and the fisherman agreed on an eel management plan as part of treaty negotiations.

He says the fisherman are about preservation and are not responsible for polluting the lake.

Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon was unavailable for comment.


A rongoa Maori expert is encouraging New Zealanders to use traditional Maori plants for their ailments.

It’s Herb Awareness Week, and ethno-botanist Rob McGowan, from Nga Whenua Rahui, says most of the herbs used by professional herbalists are derived from plants that come from other countries.

He says native plants like Kumarahou, kawakawa and Karamu are superior to many and should be used more.

Rob McGowan's book Rongoa Maori, due to be published in the next two months, explores traditional ways of staying healthy in a modern world.


The Maori Party says that for proof that kaupapa Maori works for Maori - look no further than the example set by kura kaupapa.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira says offering prison management contracts to private companies could see Maori run prisons where kaupapa Maori was the focus.

He says using Maori aspirations, values and principles would help rehabilitate Maori inmates, who make up a large percentage of the jails in this country.

Mr Harawira says the Maori immersion schools introduced in New Zealand over 20 years ago were a classic example.

“The history of Maori in mainstream schools is almost as bad as the history of Maori in mainstream jails. Now if kaupapa Maori can work for our people in schools, kaupapa Maori can certainly work for our whanaunga in prisons and they can work for our whanaunga in a whole lot of other places. I just think that if we use kaupapa Maori, we won’t be just taking a positive step away from mainstream, we will be taking a positive step towards the future,” Mr Harawira says.

He says the Maori focused units currently operating in prison facilities around the country are a step in the right direction.


However Maori businesses may not be equipped to run their own prisons, according to the head of the Federation of Maori Authorities.

Paul Morgan, the chief executive of FOMA, says while some Maori organisations see that as a business opportunity, its not something that FOMA is focusing on.

He says Maori businesses are currently not prepared to provide that sort of service.

“There’s a lot of expertise in Maori, particularly in the last 20 years, where they are service providers in health, education, social welfare systems but to actually own and run a prison requires obviously substantial expertise, particularly systems, to do that, and I don’t think we are in a position to do that at this point in time,” Mr Morgan says.


Labour leader Phil Goff has lent his support to wananga being given the opportunity to educate Maori as young as 14 years of age.

Maori leader Dr Ngatata Love has suggested the move as a radical way of addressing Maori youth problems and the Wananga o Aotearoa has said it is ready to step up to the mark if the government allows it to provide courses for rangatahi.

“I think if the wananga can point to a proven record of working with those that are selling second chance education and having a good success rate then that’s a way we can go.

“We’re facing a situation now where maybe a thousand jobs a week are being lost in New Zealand. The first people to be hurt by that process are those with the least level of skills and the least level of education. They are the most vulnerable, and many Maori are amongst them,” Mr Goff says.

Her says the recession must be used as an opportunity to give people skills and doing so for Maori is particularly important as their educational attainment levels are lower.


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