Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sealord cuts jobs to survive

Sealord says the decision to cut 180 jobs at its Nelson processing plant will eventually lead to future opportunities for Maori elsewhere in the company.

Chairman Robin Hapi says Sealord, the countrys largest fishing company which is 50-percent Maori owned- is restructuring and looking to develop new business like a factory processing ship which will create 50 new jobs.

He says the vessel will be staffed by New Zealanders, many of whom will be Maori, and will operate out of New Zealand waters.

“This particular company is owned by Maori and like moist companies in New Zealand it does employ Maori. What we are doing here is taking decision now that secure the viability of the company for the future,” Mr Hapi says.

Sealord is a joint venture between Maori fisheries settlement company Aotearoa Fisheries and Japanese seafood company Nippon Suisan Kaisha.


Labour is so concerned about the Sealord's job cuts that leader Phil Goff has flown to Nelson today for talks with company representatives and to personally check out the local situation.

Phil Goff says he is extremely concerned about the impact 180 jobs lost will have on the area and families.

“Any company whether it’s iwi owned or foreign owned or owned by anybody else, their first obligation is to keep the company going and to keep it profitable but I don’t know that Sealord is in the position where taking this action is totally inevitable. I would have thought that at the present time, given the wider, tighter labour market, there would have been a thorough exploration of all of the options involving the union and involving the workforce, and that’s the sort of conversation I think I'll be having,” Mr Goff says.

He says the government seems capable of bailing out finance companies and he will be asking what kind of government assistance is available for hurt workers.


The spiritual and archaeological significance of the Wairau Bar in Marlborough is being is marked by fresh research and the repatriation of koiwi tangata this year.

Believed to be one of the earliest archaeological sites in New Zealand and associated with the first people that arrived here from East Polynesia, the iconic site was excavated last month to find evidence of village life circa 1300 AD.

Richard Walters, the head of the archaeological team, says the old house sites, artifacts, food remains and hangi pits that were found showed the Bar could have been the hub of a large and thriving community.

“When people think of the ancient history of Britain they think of the ancient history of New Zealand they think of the Wairau Bar, because it’s the earliest known site. Although I’m working from the scientific perspective looking at the archaeological perspective, we’re working very closely with the Rangitane who see it very much as part of their immediate heritage,” Mr Walters says.

Rangitane are repatriating the koiwi tangata, that were unearthed by Canterbury Museum in the 1940's, in April.


Sealord Group, which is cutting 180 jobs at its Nelson processing plant, has given a commitment to continue to support Maori employment.

While acknowledging many Maori will be among those losing jobs, chairman Robin Hapi says the company is restructuring and sustainable employment for Maori is on the agenda.

He says the company, which is jointly owned by Maori via Aotearoa Fisheries and Japanese seafood company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, has new initiatives which will provide employment for Maori.

“We are commissioning a new vessel which will enable use to create 50 new permanent jobs and that vessel will be staffed by New Zealanders and operation in New Zealand waters,” Mr Hapi, says.


Mauri stones, buried at the foot of the site of the new Supreme Court building in Wellington this morning, represented the joining of the mana of Maori with the mana of the Crown says the Minister of Courts.

Early this morning Te Atiawa kaumatua, along with Court's Minister Georgina te Heuheu and judges of the court took part in a ceremony to lay three stones from Mt Taranaki.

Mrs Te Heuheu says the mauri stone reflected the important work that will be conducted there in the future.

“It’s sort of injecting that life force, the essence, into what the whole project is about and ultimately it’s about people working in there, activities going on that are important in the justice system and therefore important to this country as a democracy,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

The new Supreme Court is expected to be finished early next year.


Maori actor Temuera Morrison says the death of talent agent, Robert Bruce, will be a big loss to the Maori film and television industry.

Mr Morrison says Robert Bruce was instrumental in growing a pool of Maori talent and was a great supporter of Maori performance and had a large number of Maori actors on his books.

Mr Bruce came to Aotearoa in the early 1970's and starred in the wrestling show, On the Mat.

In 1978 he formed the Robert Bruce agency, nicknamed the Ugly Bruce agency representing high profile Maori actors like Temuera Morrison and Cliff Curtis.

Robert Bruce who passed away yesterday after a short illness is survived by partner Gabriella.


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