Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, May 29, 2009

Budget cash hard fought for

After years of criticising Labour's Parekura Horomia for not winning new money in the Budget, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is finding himself in the same position.

The Maori Affairs Minister says he's managed to keep Te Puni Kokiri's allocation at last year's level, despite pressure across the public sector to make cuts.

Money for his Maori economic taskforce and a new network of whanau advocates will come out of the existing TPK budget.

But Dr Sharples is pointing to gains in his associate portfolios, treaty settlements and education, where there is some new money for trade training and for the te reo education provider Ataarangi.

“Unless you're speaking Maori in the home the language is going to die so Atarangi’s got this good project where they move into the homes and teach families instead of just individuals. There’s money for that. There’s money to keep Maori radio alive, a bit for their running costs. In most areas there's something,” Dr Sharples says.

There's also a trade training academy in Auckland and a programme to prepare more Maori secondary schoolers for tertiary study.


Meanwhile, a south Auckland budgeting advisor says yesterday's budget has done nothing to relieve the stress on families or on his organisation.

Daryl Evans says the Mangere Budgeting and Family Support Services is funded to work with about 300 whanau a year, but it is now helping well over a thousand.

Mr Evans says there has been a big increase in working whanau using the service, and a 37 percent increase in the number of families needing food parcels.

Daryl Evans says a Labour-style family tax credit would have immediately put extra money in the pockets of whanau.


Maori public health professionals are keen to develop a more collective approach to lowering Maori smoking rates.

Today's Maori Tobacco Intelligence Summit in Wellington focused on improving existing health promotions and services.

Organiser Riripeti Hareuku says since the last strategic hui more than a decade ago, the rate that young Maori take up smoking has dropped.
But she says more central leadership and active partnership with government was needed.

Tobacco kills between 600 and 800 Maori a year.


The director of an education research project given almost $20 million in yesterday's budget is delighted the government has recognised its importance.

Russell Bishop from Waikato University says the funding means more schools can sign on to Te Kotahitanga, a professional development programme which aims to change the way teachers in mainstream schools interact with Maori pupils.

He says the programme's success lies in its focus on the philosopy of Tino rangatiratanga.

“It's based upon supporting self-determination of schools, of families, of particularly students and teachers to determine the best way forward in partnership with each other and us, and it seems to strike a chord with everybody,” Dr Bishop says.

He says the quality of New Zealand's schools is recognised internationally, but in the past Maori students have missed out on the benefits of the system.


Heart heath health group Te Hotu Manawa Maori has developed advice for Maori living in areas where it is difficult to find healthy food.

Its nutrition and physical activity manager, Leonie Matoe, says the second Food Security Among Maori in Aotearoa booklet aims to give whanau ideas about what they can do to improve their food resources.

It includes projects which whanau have successfully put into action, such as a kura planting feijoa trees as a windbreak, and a marae buying fruit wholesale and selling it on to whanau at cost.

Leone Matoe says obesity and food insecurity are linked, as foods that are high in fat and sugar are usually the cheaper option.


As people gear up to celebrate the Maori New Year, a traditional navigation expert says they're going to be a little late.

Official celebrations start when the constellation Matariki or Pliedes rises above the horizon after the next new moon on June 24.

But Jack Thatcher, who steers by the stars on the waka Te Aurere, says his whanau celebrated Matariki on this week's new moon.

Jack Thatcher believes the conditions for Matariki falling in May happen every three to five years.


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