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Friday, March 20, 2009

Overseas land threat bigger than foreshore crisis

Labour's Maori affairs spokesman says National's review of the Overseas Investment Act is a bigger threat to Maori interests than the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Parekura Horomia says it's clear Finance Minister Bill English has protections on sensitive land in his sights.

He says unlike Labour's Foreshore Act which provides a mechanism for Maori to pursue their customary interests in the takutaimoana, National's changes are likely to deny Maori a chance to protect their waahi tapu.

“This is another issue like sensitive land and I’ll rest my political life on the foreshore and seabed legislation, Maori need instruments to protect themselves from this sort of intrusion and this is a huge intrusion, not just on Maori rights and whenua but on New Zealanders as a whole,” Mr Horomia says.

Rather than opening the doors to rich foreigners and big business, the government should be looking at how New Zealanders can invest in their own development.

SHARPLES WATCHING GOVERNMENT LAND PLANS

But Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the Maori Party is watching the Government's plans closely.

He intends to talk with the Finance Minister about how sensitive land will be treated in the review.

“The last thing we want is wholesale assets and resourcing moving out of our country with whether it’s in the form of land ownership or whatever so on the other hand encouraging overseas investment has got to be good for the economy so it’s finding the balance and putting the brakes on possible moves to alienate Maori from their land,” Dr Sharples says.

MAORI CURRICULUM LAUNCHED BACK IN BIRTHPLACE

After years of development, mainstream schools now have a Maori language curriculum to refer to.

Education Minister Ann Tolley told the launch at Taurua marae by Lake Rotoiti the curriculum will help schools meet their obligation under the Education Act to provide te reo Maori me ona tikanga to students when parents ask for it.

Former school principal Te Ururoa Flavell, the MP for Waiariki and Maori party education spokesperson, says it was fitting the document was launched at the same marae where the idea was conceived more than twenty five years ago.

“It's a result of about 20 to 25 years’ work started by Himiona Hunia at Taurua and that curriculum launched in Rotorua so that was a great occasion for Te Arawa and language teachers throughout the motu. It’s been a long time coming,” Mr Flavell says.

WAIKATO RIVER REGATTA IN 106TH YEAR

Waikato schools have gathered at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia for the 106th annual regatta.

Organiser Rangimarie Morgan says up to 10,000 people are expected today and tomorrow to watch the teams race.

She says it's a great celebration to Tainui's relationship with its ancestral awa of the Tainui people, with kapa haka and other entertainment.

Secondary schools race today with the adult divisions tomorrow

NEW TERRORIST THREAT SQUAD UNNECESSARY THREAT

The lawyer for Tuhoe activist Tame Iti says a new tactical response group to address threats of domestic terrorism is unnecessary.

The government intends to recruit former SAS soldiers for the unit, ostensibly to monitor international threats in the lead-up to and during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Annette Sykes says despite the ongoing prosecution of Iti and others arrested in the so called 2006 terror raids in Ruatoki, says domestic terrorism is virtually unheard of in this country.

“We have an existing threat assessment unit. We have existing forces within the police to deal with these kinds of threats, an a just and free and democratic society we are in Aotearoa has to ask is this really necessary, have we had these kinds of threats in our history, in our modern history. Are we likely to? We’re a country that prides itself on its civil rights and we’ve really got to start thinking about these matters,” Ms Sykes says.

FLAVELL KEEN TO GIVE MEDIATION HIS BEST SHOT

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell is defending his role mediating between factions contesting ownership of the Whakarewarewa thermal valley.

Associate treaty negotiations minister Pita Sharples has asked his Maori Party colleague to resolve some of the issues which arose during last month's select committee hearing in Rotorua of the Whakarewarewa settlement bill.

Willie Te Aho, the negotiator for Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao, says Mr Flavell is the wrong person for the job because of his advocacy on behalf of a Ngati Wahiao faction opposing the settlement terms.

But the MP says he's just doing the job he was elected to do.

“Everyone I know of wants a settlement but the fact is some of those issues have been raised and he’s asked me as a local MP if I can move towards the facilitation of a process that deals with some of those issues, in particular around mana whenua issues. He’s asked me to do a job and therefore I hope shows a faith in the abilities I have. I’m going to give it my best shot,” Mr Flavell says.

The select committee is due to report the bill back in June.

HORIZONTAL TUG DATES BACK TO WHALING SHIPS

A sport that has its origins in the whaling ships holds its national individual championships in Rotorua tomorrow.

Power pulling is the kiwi version of tug of war, and it's becoming increasingly popular with tangata whenua.

David Peehikura from the National Powerpulling Association says contestants are graded according to weight to do battle in a best of three series.

It's been a formal sport here for 40 years but its origins go back much further.

“Like tug of war is a standing up style that comes from overseas. Power pulling is lying down on board and cleats. It started on the old whaling ships before rugby and cricket were started in New Zealand,” Mr Peehikura says.

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