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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Makutu ceremony abuse of tikanga

A Ngati Porou tikanga Maori expert says the justice system and the media are placing incorrect labels on Maori rituals and they need to seek cultural advice.

Amster Reedy says the whanau who performed what has been called a makutu on Wainuiomata woman Janet Moses is far from the true meaning of maketu.

Mr Reedy says the whanau members who poured water onto Ms Moses which resulted in her drowning had no knowledge of what they were doing and the media was wrong to report it as a makutu ritual.

“We don't want out culture dragged through the mire because of misunderstanding. To me that wasn’t makutu. Because it’s much more tapu, it’s a much more special occasion that what it was made to be in the news as things went along,” Mr Reedy says.

He says there is little physical contact with the person who has a makutu and the person lifting the makutu.

Moses' uncle and four of her aunts who were found guilty of the 22 year old Wainuiomata woman's manslaughter, while three other family members were acquitted.


The new MP for Mt Albert David Shearer says his experience with the United Nations in the Middle East has given him an international perspective which should be useful in addressing indigenous Maori issues in New Zealand.

David Shearer says one issue which he thinks could have been handled much better by the Labour government was the foreshore and seabed legislation.

“I don’t know the full details of what happened there but I felt there was a road we could have gone down that satisfied all sides and instead it became a very polarising thing and I think as a result the Labour Party lost out, and I hope over the next few months it can be brought together again,” Mr Shearer says.

He says it was a real tragedy for the Labour Party that so many people went across and joined the Maori Party.

David Shearer has returned to New Zealand after heading the United Nation's $2 billion redevelopment and reconstruction programme in Iraq.


The Minister responsible for Maori broadcasting Georgina Te Heuheu says while television is the glamour area the government recognises the importance of radio in the process of Maori economic development.

Georgina Te Heuheu says this was recognised in the budget with additional funding for Maori radio.

“In terms of iwi radio it’s needed even more at this point because it’s a way for us to stay commected stay focused, determined, stay in touch with out families and our whanau because times are quite hard and the iwi radio network is a little gem that deserves to be supported.
Mrs Te Heuheu says.

She says it was obvious that the Labour Government's ignoring of the needs of Maori radio had to be reversed and collaboration between National and the Maori Party has allowed this.

The budget allocated $50,000 to each of the 21 iwi stations around the country.


New Mt Albert MP David Shearer says New Zealand needs to have further discussion on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples before signing it.

Mr Shearer, who has spent more than a decade overseas managing billion dollar UN reconstruction programmes in the world's hot spots, says the declaration which New Zealand has so far refused to sign is a very important document.

“I am not sure we’ve had the discussion a declaration like this certainly warrants yet in New Zealand,” Mr Shearer says.

He says many countries which voted for in the UN General Assembly to adopt the declaration have no intention of honouring it.
The new Australian government recently endorsed the declaration, leaving New Zealand, the United States and Canada standing out as countries which voted against it.


The growing rate of Maori with cancer has prompted the Health Research Council to fund two projects aimed at improving care for Maori sufferers.

The $1.2 million grant will be managed by Dr Lis Ellison-Loschmann, from Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research.

One study will look into improving overall care for Maori patients and the other will investigate differences in cervical cancer survival rates between women of different ethnicities.

Dr Ellison-Loschmann, of Ngati Toa Rangitira, Te Atiawa and Ngati Raukawa, says cancer has taken over from chronic heart disease as the leading cause of death in New Zealand

“Cancers such as lung, cervical and stomach cancers are more common among Maori and other cancers like melanoma, prostrate and colorectal cancer tend to be less common so what that suggests is that Maori cancer control priorities perhaps should be different than those of non Maori,” Dr Ellison-Loschmann says.

Maori are 9 percent more likely to get cancer than non-Maori and 77 percent more likely to die of cancer than non-Maori.


The lobby group which represents independent Maori film and television producers believes Maori are missing out a fair share of programme funding.

Pita Turei, the executive director of Nga Aho Whakaari Pita Turei says the organisation’s annual hui over the weekend emphasised the importance of more funding so the voice of Maori can be heard.

He says with Maori making up 15 percent of the population they should get 15 percent of the money available for making film and television programmes.

He says Te Mangai Paho, which funds Maori broadcasting, is the only place that gets anywhere near this.

“But when we look at the Film Commission we stumble down to 6 percent so we’re only looking at half the resources we should be using. If we’re looking at New Zealand on Air, we’re looking at 2.5 percent,” Mr Turei says.

He says the best way to maintain the independent voice of Maori is to empower individual people to tell the stories of their whanua, hapu and iwi.


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