Waatea News Update

News from Waatea 603 AM, Urban Maori radio, first with Maori news

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Paul wants prisoners for profit

The New Zealand Maori Council has joined the call for Maori to run privatised prisons.

Spokesperson Maanu Paul says the council has a long history of supporting privatisation of prisons.

He says in 1994 when Auckland remand prison was privatised the Maori Council supported that and when the Labour government put it back under state control the council opposed the move.

“The experience at the Auckland Remand Centre was quite clearly it was it had a Maori CEO, it had Maori staff, and their performance was far superior to the state system. The amount of recidivism in there dropped dramatically,” Mr Paul says.

He says the private prison also had incentives for prisoners to behave that worked well.


As the Labour party returns to its roots with a caucus on the West Coast where the party was formed, leader Phil Goff has drawn attention to historical connections between the party and Maori.

He says Maori through the Ratana movement headed by prophet TW Ratana played a fundamental role in the first Labour government's coming to power in 1935 with Michael Joseph Savage as Prime Minister.

Mr Goff says the Ratana movement and Labour stood for the same people.

“Those that were disadvantaged in life, those that had to struggle to make their way in life, and that was an enduring relationship between Maori and Labour and enduring right through to today because Labour got more of the party vote in the Maori seats than all of the other parties put together,” he says.

Mr Goff says the same values which brought the two together are still important today saying every child is important every family needs a secure roof over their heads and a job.


The largest Maori and Pacific Island cultural festival in the world starts tomorrow in Manukau.

Fiftynine schools are lined up for ASB Polyfest, with more than 8000 students performing on five stages.

Tania Karauria, event director, says the festival to still popular after 34 years, and is one of the few events through which young Maori and Pacific Islanders can celebrate their culture through dance and song.

“Obviously we are in competition with things like sport outside the classroom, and dance is becoming a huge thing in itself with the movement of hip hop etc but the thing I am blown away by is the fact so many of our young people are still holding on to their traditions and they are happy to learn about where they come from and who they are,” Ms Karauria says.

The four-day festival is being hosted by Wesley College.


The New Zealand Maori Council is working with the Crown on the privatisation and management of prisons.

Spokesperson Maanu Paul says the Associate Minister of Corrections, Dr Pita Sharples, has directed it to deal with government officials to develop.

The Government last week tabled legislation in parliament paving the way for contracting out the management of prisons to the private sector.

“The Maori Council as a statutory authority should be the leading treaty partner in negotiations with the Crown in the process of privatisation and mangement of prisons,” Mr Paul says.

He says the council role leaves room for every regional iwi authority to exercise their rangitiratanga for their area with the council having an over riding responsibility to ensure implementation and performance meet Maori and Department of Corrections standards.


And Maori taiaha expert Mita Mohi is backing calls by Associate Corrections Minister Pita Sharples for Maori run prisons.

Mr Mohi has run Maori-focused programmes in prisons nationwide for over 20 years.

He says recidivism rates show the current system doesn't work, but he has seen a turnaround in the lives of many inmates in Maori focused units, and supports the concept of Maori run prisons promoting tikanga Maori.

Mr Mohi says while there will be calls that gang members won't adhere to tikanga Maori, he's seen otherwise.

“I've had Black Power, Mongrel Mob, they’ve been on Mokoia Island together. I’ve actually witnessed a Mongrel Mob guy on Mokoia burning his patch on the island. Once they know where they’re from, their whakapapa, their marae, their whanau, tgheir tupuna, their waka, you notice a big change in our boys,” Mr Mohi says.

He says Dr Sharples helped set up the prison mau taiaha course more than 20 years ago.


Celebrated photographer Ans Westera says her ability to blend in was behind the intimate images of Maori life at Turangawaewae in the early 1960's.

An exhibition of her photographs opened at the Ngaruawahia pa today, as part of celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the opening of the ancestral whare, Mahinarangi.

She says the images gathered from koroneihana hui for King Koroki in the 1960s give a glimpse of family life behind the scenes.

“I was just captivated by the life around me, by the families, little groups of people that formed themselves so beautifully and naturally and I just really wanted to photograph people and seemed to have an ability as well. I somehow blend and people aren’t really aware I am photographing them,” Ms Westra says.

The collection will remain at Turangawaewae after the exhibition closes as an historical record of pa life.


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