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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 22, 2009

Passport scam turns Islanders off Maori

A Pacific broadcaster says the passport incident where several hundred Pacific Island overstayers paid $500 to Gerrard Otimi for unauthorised immigration status, has created a division between Maori and Pacific people.

Jae'D Victor, from the Pacific Media Network, says there is now a growing sense of mistrust and resentment from Pacific people to Gerrard Otimi, and perhaps Maori in general.

Mr Victor who was at the Manurewa marae last Wednesday, and broke the story about Mr Otimi's activities says the incident highlights the need for more support for Pacific people regarding immigration.

“Our Pacific people aren’t going to come forward because of fears something even more drastic will happen to them. Our people, they’re very vulnerable but if they’re not going to get the sort of help they ought to be getting then they are going to go to someone who will say ‘yes you can have your visa, you can have permanent residency for this amount of money,’” Mr Victor says.

He believes the Pacific people were genuine in their trust for Mr Otimi and if nothing else he should return the money.

But Gerrard Otimi says he has not broken any laws and the money was given as a koha.

The Ngati Maniapoto man says Pacific people came to him for help and he was only trying to support them by giving them whangai status, or adoption into his own hapu.

“I had a family come to me because they were being deported. They come to me all crying so I says ok I can help you, I can whangau you into my hapu. Now this is my hapu. There’s nothng wrong with that. They gave me a koha and it escalated from there,” Mr Ptomi says.

He says the money is going into a cooperative which has a management system to help all the Pacific Island people.

BOOK LAUNCH TIMED FOR MATARIKI

Matariki celebrations got underway at the beginning of the month but the official start is this Wednesday.

Manukau City will launch a picture book for tamariki, Te Tuna no Maketu, by Candice Reading from Rangitane.

Ms Reading says she wanted to write about native creatures and teach tamariki about conservation and preservation, two elements of Matariki.

Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster or The Seven Sisters.

In late May they dip below the horizon and their re-appearance a few weeks later signifies the end of the harvest season. The first new moon to follow brings the new year.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOCUS IMPORTANT FOR PRIZE WINNING FARM

The first wahine to chair a Maori incorporation says a solid bottom line and a commitment to sustainable development is behind Pakarae Whangaraa B5 being named Maori beef and sheep farm of the year at the annual Ahuwhenua Awards held over the weekend.

Ingrid Collins says three years ago two neighbouring properties were merged to create the 5000 hectare farm north of Gisborne.

“It is a model that I hope other people will take up but I’ve said to our relations in Tolaga Bay to wait another two years. I’ve said give me five years and if it’s bedded down and working, let’s use this model for all our relations up there,” Ms Collins says.

While preservation of the land for future generations is paramount, the farm has been profitable enough to annually pay out close to half a million dollars to their Ngati Kohohi shareholders, and a million dollars for development.

The Ahuwhenua Awards were set up 72 years ago by the then Minister of Maori Affairs Sir Apirana Ngata to recognise excellence among Maori farmers.

WHANGAI PASSPORT SCAM COULD BE DEFENDED IN RIGHT COURT

A leading Maori lawyer and treaty negotiator believes Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi has a defendable legal case.

Willie Te Aro says ten years ago what was understood as iwi was redefined to include urban Maori and Mr Otimi is doing the same with Whangai or adoption into the Maori hapu.

“We are not a people frozen in time. We are a dynamic people and ultimately if his approach to whangai is about manaaki tangata and giving them a better opportunity than they have now, I think that is arguable in the court and I’m saying the Maori Land Court, because that is the specialist area for issues of Maori custom,” Mr Te Aho says.

He says the police seem to be backing away from talking about legal action against Mr Otimi for accepting $500 koha for the issuing of passports adopting Pacific Islanders into his hapu.

HEALTH TRUSTS LOOKING TO IMPROVE MARAE ACCESS FOR DISABLED

Two Te Taitokerau health services, CCS Disability Action and Ngati Hine Health Trust, have joined forces in the hope of establishing a collective for the rights of disabled Maori.

Auriole Ruka from CCS Disability Action says for disabled Maori things like making marae accessible is an important kaupapa.

“Accessible marae affects all Maori. For our kuia, kaumatua, it would mean they could stay on the marae, participate fully when there are tangihanga, things like that, without people having to leave,” Ms Ruka says.

A hui will be held at Te Puna o Te Matauranga Marae, on Thursday to map the way forward.

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