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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chance missed in super-city debate

Labour list MP Shane Jones says the Maori Party has blown its chances of getting the Government to move on Maori representation on the Auckland super-city council.

Party co-leader and Tamaki Makaurau MP Pita Sharples last week told Radio Waatea he had been outflanked by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, who was adamant in his opposition to Maori seats.

Mr Jones says Dr Sharples erred by trying to find an alternative to the proposals for Maori representation put up by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

“He should have grabbed the Royal Commission’s recommendations and said ‘that’s what we’ll go with’ and hid behind the fact the Royal Commission had spent $5 million and taken hundreds of submissions on that question and I’m beggared if I can see where he has leverage now to get either Rodney Hide or John Key to give Maori representation,” Mr Jones says.

He says excluding Maori from the Auckland council will play well with the section of the electorate Rodney Hide’s ACT Party is trying to win over.


While whanau may be on the look-out for swine flu, a leading health researcher is warning of an older disease that can have debilitating long term effects.

Diana Lennon, the professor of population heath at the University of Auckland, says tamariki Maori are 20 times more likely to get rheumatic fever than Pakeha children.

She says overcrowded housing and untreated strep throats are factors, and whanau should seek medical help when children have sore throats and high temperatures.

“The beginning of the illness, the strep throat, is very infectious. Why we’re interested in this disease is that it goes on to cause heart damage that can persist for life and can even be bad enough you might need a heart transplant so its a preventable disease. You treat the strep throat and you prevent the heart damage,” Professor Lennon says.

Rheumatic fever is almost unknown in developed countries, and the National Heart Foundation believes with proper education and healthcare services the disease could be wiped out here by 2020.


Wairoa District Council is rebuilding the main road into Mahia to bypass an urupa.

Council engineering manager Neil Cook says because of long standing objections from the local hapu, a section of the road going over the Ruawharawhara cemetery will be blocked off.

The council is assessing two alternate routes to the popular holiday spot, one costing about $700,000 and the other costing twice that sum.

“Ruawharo has made it quite clear the foreshore area is of cultural significance. The relationship is excellent at the moment and I hope we can keep it that way,” Mr Cook says.

The intention is to close the road in August, although the council is meeting with urupa trustees to extend the deadline.


The Government is writing down $37 million in loans to a company which planted pines on large tracts of undeveloped Maori land in Northland.

Taitokerau Forests was formed in the 1980s when Maori Affairs officials encouraged 14 Northland Maori land blocks to plant trees, using Treasury loans.

Company secretary Warwick Syers says the write-down revealed in the latest government estimates brings the debt back in line with the value of the forests, ensuring the company will not slip into insolvency before harvest, which is due to start in the next two years.

“That’s been the problem with the model, that if you fund forestry, a long term asset on debt finance, if that asset doesn’t grow in accordance with the economic model as happened in this case, regretfully the debt exceeds the value and that’s what’s happened,” Mr Syers says.

Taitokerau Forests has been a valuable source of employment for Northland communities over the past two decades, and it has also kept rates flowing to the region’s councils.


A Wellington researcher is looking to indigenous water management systems throughout to Pacific for ideas on what to do back in Aotearoa.

Betsan Martin has won a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fellowship to visit Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia, Hawaii, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

In 2004 Dr Martin undertook a week long fast to protest the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The veteran Pakeha treaty educator and former member of the Tongariro-Taupo Conservation Board says indigenous knowledge should be treated with respect, or it could be lost.

“There’s a great tendency in developing countries to think outside expertise is what is needed. While it might be, it seems important to hold indigenous knowledge up in that decision-making process,” Dr Martin says.

She says in most Pacific countries villagers still own most of their land so they have a lot of say in how their water is managed.


Te Puni Kokiri wants to use this week’s Atamira Maori in the city event at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds to get Maori thinking about how they can contribute to the Rugby World Cup.

Auckland manager Pauline Kingi says the three-day celebration of Maori creativity and enterprise is the start of the ministry’s build-up to the cup.

She says when rugby fans arrive in 2011, they can expect to see a strong Maori face on New Zealand's largest city.

Pauline Kingi says Ngati Whatua will be the principal mana whenua for Atamira, with the support of other groups.

The Atamira Expo starts of Friday and features music, dance, art, craft and carving demonstrations and displays of Maori business.


Anonymous Nikora Irimana Teina said...

I thought that this was the case when on Native Affairs Rodney Hide (about a month a go the time of the hikoi), had said that Pita Sharples was well aware of the circumstances, the week following Rodney Hides transmitted live interview from Wellington, Pita Sharples was interviewed and there was no question put to the Minister of Maori Affairs that he knew dam well that this was gonna happen! Not happy.

5:30 PM  

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