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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Otimi claims police pass for passports

The man behind issuing Maori passports to Pacific Islanders so they can stay in the country says the police have looked at his activities and given what he is doing a clean slate.

Gerrard Otimi says he began adopting Pacific Island families into his hapu as part of Maori custom to look after the needy when he saw the plight they were in.

He says their giving a $500 koha is not a payment to get a New Zealand visa and no scam has taken place.

“We've been to the Manurewa police station yesterday. They wanted to interview the people that first started and were involved in it. I left then to it. I says you ask all the questions you want. Came out clean slate,” Mr Otimi says.

He has not personally benefitted in any way and any money gathered is being used to help Pacific island families in great need.

LAWYER GIVES STAMP OF APPROVAL FOR WHANGAI STAMP

And Maori lawyer and treaty negotiator Willie Te Aho says the Maori party should be applauding not criticising Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi for attempting to help disadvantaged pacific people.

Mr Te Aho says he does not believe Mr Otimi has broken the law or defrauded anyone in accepting $500 koha for issuing passports to pacific islanders to adopt them into his hapu.

“The Maori Party should be applauding this guy for standing up and actually saying we need to rethink this system The Maori Party is talking about having a Maori bank. Why not have a Maori immigration process? Why not have a Maori currency? We’ve got $400 million coming back into the central North Island next month. We need to start looking at using our power in a positive way,” Mr Te Aho says.

He says the question of how one can be adopted as a whangai into a hapu needs to be tested and the place for doing that is the Maori land court which is there to determine issues of Maori custom.

MAYOR WANTS TO SEE FORMAL MATARIKI FESTIVAL

The mayor of Waitakere wants Matariki, or the Maori new year, which begins this week to be recognised by a public holiday.

Bob Harvey says he has been thinking of making Matariki a public holiday for about eight years and it is not something he just thought up in the shower.

“This has been growing in our identity and our culture and I’ m just so happy to be part of Matariki but I thought why don’t we just celebrate who we are and what we are in Aotearoa and maybe look at a day, a holiday or a holiday weekend when we can really go to town with matariki,” Mr Harvey says.

On Wednesday night he will ask the council’s Te Taumata Runanga to urge the New Zealand Government to make Matariki a stand-alone public holiday.

The advertising guru turned mayor, says a matariki holiday would fit comfortably between Easter and Labour weekend.

Matariki officially begins on Wednesday morning, the first day of the new moon following the rise of the Pleiades star cluster in New Zealand skies and events to mark Matariki take place throughout New Zealand from June 24 to July 24.

DIVERSE ACCESS TO UNIVERSITY PAYS OFF AT WAIKATO

A Maori lawyer and leading treaty negotiator has come out in support of Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples' call for Maori to be given unfettered entry into university.

Willie Te Aho says he absolutely supports what the Minister is saying because the present education system is failing Maori.

“If you accept that you’ve got to accept there has got to be some flexibility on entry to university, We’ve seen that with Waikato here, the law school, they took a different tack to the other four law schools, allowed mature students in, allowed those with disability and a specific focus on Maori and now they are pumping out really talented Maori students and mature students,” Mr Te Aho says.

It’s a strategy which needs to be adopted across the whole university system and the Minister is absolutely right to advocate it.

MAORI FILMMAKERS FEATURING STRONGLY OVER YEAR

The development executive for the New Zealand Film Commission says Maori filmmakers are well poised to take advantage of an increased global interest in indigenous stories.

Hone Kouka says this is a factor behind a bumper year ahead for Maori film.

“Within the next year we’ve got feature films, Briar Grace Smith, her first feature, strength of water. Taika Waititi has just finished shooting his next feature, The Volcano, up the East Coast. And Michael Bennett from Rotorua has his first feature as well, Matariki, which was shot in South Auckland, so as Maori we are getting out there,” Mr Kouka says.

New technologies have allowed more Maori than ever to get involved in the film making process.

He says that was evident by the range of new talent who submitted their work for screening at the annual Wairoa Maori Film Festival held over the weekend.

KAUMATUA WILL BE MISSED IN WEST AND NORTH

The head of Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust John Tamihere says the whanau will take time to come to terms with the loss of a well respected West Auckland kaumatua.

He says Wiremu Tairua who died peacefully at his home late last week, was a kaumatua with his own style.

“He was a real gentleman, really steeped in Ngapuhitanga but didn’t need to assert it or express it so everyone knew it but he had a calming influence as a consequence. Different kaumatua have different attributes in the way they direct and lead and he just had a wonderful presence but whenever you needed that x factor, he would come through with it,” Mr Tamihere says.

Mr Tairua, who was in his 80's, championed Ngapuhi issues in the West, as chair of Te Piringatahi marae, which also has a Ngapuhi kohanga reo attached.

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