Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Otimi arrested for immigration scam

Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi has been arrested and charged with three counts of deception under the Crimes Act.

He will appear in the Counties Manukau court tomorrow.

Detective inspector John Tims says as part of a joint police and immigration department investigation, following three complaints from members of the public, searches were today carried out at properties connected to Mr Otimi.

“We've recovered about 5000 hapu membership certificates which haven’t been issued to any individual. We’ve also recovered a number of certificates that have been issued to individuals and we’ve also located about $40,000 in cash,” Inspector Tims says.

The police want to hear from people who have had transactions with Mr Otimi with regard to hapu membership certificates and there could be further charges pending on whether others come forward.


Labour leader Phil Goff says any change to the management structure for the Waikato River would necessitate a renegotiation of the treaty agreement reached with the previous government.

A review conducted for Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is recommending the number of boards which will manage a $210 million clean up of the river be reduced from six to one.

“It may be that the Minister in Charge of Treaty Negotiations is floating that idea but that’s something, if he wanted to follow through on it, would have to be negotiated again between the two parties to the mutual agreement of each,” Mr Goff says.

A spokesperson for the Minister says there would be no change unless iwi agree and any amendments to the deed of settlement would go before a select committee giving all parties an opportunity to have their views heard.


Mangere Budgeting Services are asking whanau to be careful with their money tomorrow as the Big Wednesday prize pool reaches more than $30 million.

Chief executive Daryl Evans says 60 per cent of his clients are Maori and this week especially they are advising whanau to steer clear of excessive spending on lotto.


The police are calling on people who may have given money to Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi for hapu certificates to come forward.

Mr Otimi was today arrested and charged with three counts of deception under the Crimes Act following three complaints from the public and searches of properties connected to him.

Detective inspector John Tims of the Counties Manukau police says during the searches 5000 unissued hapu certificates and an unspecified number of issued certificates were recovered plus about $40,000 cash.

“We are seeking help from members of the public as those who have been having transactions with Otimi with regards to the hapu membership certificates, we would like to hear from them and if they have information that can help us with the investigation, to contact myself at the Manukau police station,” Inspector Tims says.

If more people come forward further charges could be laid.


Maori tamariki are 20 times more at risk of contracting rheumatic fever and health professionals are on a crusade to rid Aotearoa of the disease by 2020.

Professor Diana Lennon from Auckland University says specialists met last weekend to discuss the National Heart Foundation's guidelines and the indicators for contracting the disease.

Ms Lennon says those with poor access to health care are most susceptible.

“What we are trying to do is forge a way forward to control rheumatic fever because most developed countries don’t have rheumatic fever and the kids who are getting rheumatic fever are the kids with poor access to healthcare and probably poor hosing as well, catching a lot of infectious diseases. For Maori, it’s about 20 to 30 time the risk to get rheumatic fever,” Professor Lennon says.

A national awareness campaign was discussed but says having school based clinics would be more effective.


The chair of Te Taumata Runanga, Waitakere City's Maori committee says mayor Bob Harvey is on the money when calling for Matariki to be recognised as a National day for Aotearoa.

Warahi Paki says the official start of Matariki is Wednesday and is an opportunity to look forward as a nation.

Mr Paki, from Waikato Tainui, says creating a national day may help to heal the acrimony surrounding Waitangi Day.

Mayor Harvey will be attending the runanga's hui tonight and Warahi Paki believes the mayor will have the support of the runanga to put his proposal before tomorrow night's full council meeting.


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