Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Title will give weight to kohanga rangatiratanga push

Maoridom’s newest dame says recognition in the Queen's Birthday honours list will help her fight harder for her beloved Kohanga Reo movement.

Dame Iritiana Tawhihirangi moved from Maori Affairs to become Kohanga Reo’s first chief executive, and more than a quarter century later she remains involved with the early childhood organisation.

She’s also a Maori Language Commissioner and deputy chair of the Maori Education Trust.

Dame Iritana says in its early years Kohanga Reo was driven by the community, but it’s now too much under the control of the Ministry of Education.

“What we need to do as trustees and with our CEO is renegotiate the right of kohanga to return to the basis on which it was established. Well I’ll tell you this. If I was able to work with our people and get the support of our people without this honour, what this space now that I have got it,” Dame Iritana says.


Environment Waikato scientists are using polypropylene rope to save a threatened native fish, the inanga.

Bruno David says the adults of the whitebait species live in headwaters, but farm pipes often restrict migration to these creeks, making it harder for the fish to reproduce.

“The whitebait come up the rivers to where these pipes are and struggle to get past but some of our native fish have really good climbing capability so we’ve been looking for a cheap way to retrofit some of these pipes to allow the fish to get back up,” Mr David says.

Polypropylene rope is laid alongside or inside the pipes, allowing the fish to swim up.


There's been a double blow for northern iwi with the deaths of two senior elders, Tepara Mabel Waititi and Ratima “Deema” Petera.

Mrs Waititi, from Ngati Hine was buried yesterday at Motatau. She was 94.

Her nephew, Erima Henare, says she had been the tribal historian for Ngati Hine, as well as having a deep knowledge of the knowledge of events around the 1835 Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi.

“The tribunal has indicated it will come here on October 28 to hear Ngapuhi’s claims on He Whakaputanga I Te Tiriti o Waitangi, but a piece of vital evidence goes to the grave in the form of Auntie Mabel,” Mr Henare says.

Mabel Waititi also featured in Gaylene Preston’s film War Stories (Our Mothers Never Told Us), talking about her wartime exploits driving trucks in the far north.

Further north at Ngataki, Ngati Kuri is mourning Reverend Petera, who was one of the main sources of traditional evidence for the Muriwhenua claims.

He died at his home in Awanui on Friday aged 88, and will be buried today.


The Queen’s Birthday honours list has given government partner the Maori Party a chance to show its respect to two of the kuia who inspired it.

Iritana Tawhiwhirangi didn’t get to Parliament at number nine on the Maori Party list, but the former Maori Affairs community officer who become Kohanga Reo’s founding chief executive and later its chairperson is now a Dame Companion of the New Zealand order of merit.

The Ngati Porou 80-year-old says the honour from the Queen is for her on par with an honour from another queen.

“The greatest honour I’ve ever received was from the late Dame Atairangikaahu when she presented me with a waka huia with a greenstone pounamu as her personal thanks for what I was doing, so getting the honor from the Maori queen, and now getting one from the queen of England, what more could you ask,” Dame Iritana says.

Saana Murray from Ngati Kuri, whose 1974 book Te karanga a te kotuku was a precursor to what became the Muriwhenua Claim, became a companion of the order.

Mrs Murray is a past recipient of a Kawariki Award, given by the far north protest group co-founded by Taitokerau MP Hone Harawira to acknowledge people fighting for Maori rights.
She is also a claimant in the WAI 262 fauna and flora claim, along with the late John Hippolyte, father of Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene.

Other prominent Maori honoured yesterday include Auckland University professor Michael Walker for services to science, Hamilton woman Mere Balzer for services to Maori health, musician Che Fu, playwright Hone Kouka and Ngati Pikiao kaumatua Joe Malcolm.


A Waikato hapu plans to return to the Waitangi Tribunal to challenge Transpower's planned pylon route.

A board of inquiry last week green-lighted the 200 kilometre transmission line from Whakamaru in South Waikato to Auckland.

Willie Te Aho, the lawyer for Ngati Koroki Kahukura, says when the hapu sought an urgent hearing from the tribunal five years ago, it was told to come back if it could not get satisfaction from the main planning process.

He says that time has now come.

“It’s affected our economic development rights in terms of tourism and the upcoming rowing world cup. It’s affected our cultural sites of significance as they go across no less than two of our pa sites. These are huge towers, bigger than anything our people have seen, that will be marching across our landscape, and from an aesthetics, we just don’t want them,” Mr Te Aho says.

He says the 70 metre pylons will march across Ngati Koroki Kahukura territory from Atiamuri to Karapiro.


Kapa haka is being touted as a way to get children learning about a wide range of subjects.

Tania Kopytko from Dance Aotearoa New Zealand is traveling round schools encouraging teachers and students to use movement as a way of learning other curriculum subjects.

She says the concept is not too different from the way kapa haka is used within Maori culture.

“You could learn a poi and learn taiaha as one must because they’re part of culture and suchlike but equally you could be looking at learning other subjects ou could be learning through kura kaupapa at school and using elements that come from Maori movement as part of that,” Ms Kopytko says.

Maori students respond well to dance and movement classes as many are what is known as kinaesthetic learners.


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