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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, June 12, 2009

Maori Party celebrates fifth birthday

The Maori Party is inviting supporters to Otaki tomorrow morning to celebrate its fifth birthday.

After a powhiri at Raukawa Marae, it will hold an open function at the war memorial hall before a meeting of the party executive.

Political commentator Colin James says the party can celebrate establishing itself as the first truly independent Maori voice in Parliament for many decades.

He says party has conducted itself competently in the house and started to mark out a position which is recognised by other parties, although tensions still remain with Labour, which still feels proprietorial over the Maori seats, and with National, despite its confidence and supply agreement.

“There is a tension between the Maori Party and the National Party and we’ve seen that on several occasions, most notably over the seats on the Auckland super council, and I think National has not grasped that is essentially an issue of mana and not just one of influence or position,” Mr James says.

He says over the next five years the Maori Party needs to shore up its grass roots membership base to ensure it has a long term future as a parliamentary party.


Kapa haka roopu from throughout the motu travelled to Rotorua this week to pay their last respects to Taini Morrison, who is credited with changing the role woman can play in the Maori performing arts.

Ms Morrison, who died this week of a heart condition at the age of 51, has been buried after an emotional tangi at her home marae, Tamatekapua in Ohinemutu.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was at the tangi with his west Auckland Te Roopu Manutake.

He says through her leadership of Te Matarae-I-Orehu, Ms Morrison became an icon to the art.

There were also fulsome tributes paid to Ms Morrison by the iwi leaders gathered in Wellington this week for the Government's treaty hui.


Meanwhile, bids to host the next Festival of Traditional Maori Performing Arts have just closed.

Te Matatini draws thousand of supporters to see the country's best kapa haka roopu battle it out for supremacy.

Willie Te Aho, who is coordinating Tairawhiti's bid to host the event in Gisborne in 2011, says there is strong competition for the honour from Waitaha from the Christchurch region, Te Taihauauru for a Taranaki venue, and Te Arawa.

The decision will be announced next Wednesday.


Maori working in film and television meet at Orakei Marae are meeting in Auckland for the sixth annual Nga Aho Whakaari hui.

Mainstream and Maori broadcasters as well as representatives from funder New Zealand on Air will debate the changing environment Maori producers work in.

Executive director Pita Turei up to 10 percent of the population now watch programmes on media other than television, such as computers and cellphones.

He says Maori must keep pace with those trends.

“We can watch them when we want to watch them, we can watch them where we want to watch them and we can watch them how we want to watch them. We can use them in a classroom situation, a seminar, we can watch them on our won in our own time when we’re away from everybody else. There are choices that come up and new ways to respond to those choices,” Mr Turei says.

Some isolated Maori communities are making their own investments in the information age, bringing broadband services to their rohe.


A Labour member of the select committee considering changes to the Resource Management Act says the Government has a chance to do something positive about making houses affordable for Maori, if it is prepared to take the necessary steps.

Shane Jones says the latest two-yearly report on how the Resource Management Act is administered shows many of the problems are with regional and local government rather than the act itself.

The report found only four of the country's 84 councils are consistently processing resource consents on time, with councils around the Auckland region particularly prone to delay.

Mr Jones says he's seen the problems that causes in Tai Tokerau, where he has worked extensively on hosuing low income Maori.

“The danger is delay leads to costs. Anyone who is on a fixed income, they want to shave the cost as much as possible and when consents are held up at the council the cost only goes one way, up,” Mr Jones says.

Rather than taking a broad axe to the Resource Management Act, Environment Minister Nick Smith should put up legislation penalising councils who fail to process consents in a reasonable time.


A ceremony will be held at the Buried Village by Lake Tarawera on Sunday morning to remember the hundreds of Tuhourangi people who died in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.

The disaster drove the iwi from the land, with many moving to Hauraki or to live around Te Ngae and Whakarewarewa.

Kaumatua Aneru Rangiheua, who started the annual services when he moved back to the ancestral land 13 years ago, says the memory of the disaster is still an important memory for the iwi, and one he is reminded of every day, as some of those people are buried on his land at Tokoniho.


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