Waatea News Update

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

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Private prison plan seen as lifesaver

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says Maori can do a better job running prisons than the Corrections Department.

The Tai Tokerau MP says that's why the party is backing the government's plans to open prison management contracts up to private companies.

He says the department has a poor track record in dealing with Maori, despite Maori making up half the prison population.

Mr Harawira says private prisons should be seen as a chance for reform rather than a business opportunity for iwi.

“I'm doing this because our guys are killing one another in jail, because there’s no rehabilitation in jail, it’s purely punitive, and I want us to have the opportunity to turn our guys around ourselves. I know we can’t do worse than the bloody Corrections Department,” Mr Harawira says.

He says Maori-run prisons could instill kaupapa Maori values in inmates.


Chiefs captain Liam Messam is taking a hands on approach to keeping young Maori out of trouble.

He and fellow flanker Sione Lauaki have been taking time out of their Super 14 duties to help out at Hamilton's South Pacific Islands Institute.

The private training establishment's Kool IV Kids programme is aimed at rangatahi who have dropped out of school.

Mr Messam says growing up in Rotorua he saw how easy it was for young people to go off in the wrong direction, so he's happy to show them positive alternatives.


A teacher of Maori herbal remedies is picking up increased interest across the community in rongoa Maori.

Waikato University tutor Rob McGowan says New Zealand has a long history of traditional remedies, which is being celebrated during the current Herb Awareness Week.

Colonial settlers without access to doctors often benefited from remedies their Maori neighbours showed them in the bush.
He says rongoa never went away, but interest is definitely growing, with Maori coming back to look at rongoa.

Professional herbalists are also incorporating more New Zealand plants into their practice.

He says rongoa needs to be treated with respect, and people need to be aware that the healing characteristics of plants can change in different habitats around the country.


The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is calling for a collective effort by health workers to fight the high rates of Maori dying from respiratory illness.

Sunny Wikiriwhi, the manager of Maori services at the foundation, says Maori are dying from asthma and other respiratory illnesses at more than twice the rate of non-Maori.

She says upskilling health workers at a grassroots level could help address the disparities between Maori and non-Maori.

“This is not good enough, the stats in terms of our tamariki, in terms of hospitalization are well known. Our people are still dying from this disease and it shouldn’t be happening. So the korowai or challenge has been laid out to the DHBs and the Ministry of Health to address this issue and really make it a priority,” Ms Wikiriwhi says.

A hui next Wednesday at Orakei Marae in Auckland will bring together community health workers, nurses and other practitioners to raise awareness among Maori to risk factors such as smoking, poor housing and allergies.


Former Auckland Museum curator Maori Paul Tapsell has taken up a new challenge, breathing fresh life into Otago University's Te Tumu school of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies.

Professor Tapsell says the school has moved on from the turmoil of recent years which led to the departure of senior staff.

He says it has an exciting group of young academics who are open to debate and looking for direction.

Enrolments are up, but he sees challenges ahead in attracting Maori students, particularly in the shortage of hostel beds.

He says the completion rates for Maori who do get a hostel place are very high.

As well as heading Te Tumu in the deep south, Professor Tapsell and his wife Dr Merata Kawaru are continuing to oversee a major research project on the intergenerational transmission of language and culture in the far north.


The gift of a bromeliad years ago has turned into a successful business for Poppy Fuller from Ngati Kahungunu, Tuhoe, and Tuwharetoa.

After years of selling excess plants from her Kerikeri home, a year ago Ms Fuller launched Fullbert Bromeliads with help from Te Puni Kokiri's business facilitations service.

She and husband Allan employed two staff, built two large shade houses and have more than 30,000 bromeliads in stock.

She was not keen on the species when she got her first plant 25 years ago from her best friend Diane.


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