Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Settlement quality considered in conference

There's a warning quality could be lost in the rush to complete historic settlements by 2014.

Lawyers, lawmakers and iwi representatives have been discussing the issues at the Lexis Nexis Treaty Settlements and Beyond symposium in Wellington today.

As one of its first acts, the National Government brought forward Labour's settlement target by six years.

Rawiri Taonui from Canterbury University's school of Maori and indigenous studies says that's a lot of pressure on the treaty claim industry.

“There's at least anther 20 settlements that could be completed this year and next year so they’re going to get through a fair bit of it. The issue with the 2014 deadline is not necessarily whether you can make it but whether you can do it well,” Mr Taonui says.

While the Budget pumped a further $20 million into the Office of Treaty Settlements, there was only a minimal increase for the Waitangi Tribunal, raising the spectre that some of the research needed for durable settlements won't be done.


The Maori Trust Office is encouraging Maori landowners to get more out of their whenua.

The office becomes independent from Te Puni Kokiri from July the first, and its future success will depend on how it can sell services to Maori.

Anne-Marie Broughton, a land development consultant at the Whanganui office, says a project which brought together four blocks at Normanby to run as a single dairy farm shows what can be done with good advice.

She says owners need specialised help to overcome problems created by the fragmentation of Maori land ownership.

“When you're talking 1000 owners it’s a big ask to expect someone to pop their heads up and say I’ll do it. The Maori Trustee can play an important role in helping groups of owners in this situation,” Ms Broughton says.

The Normanby blocks include the site of the former Taranaki Agricultural Research Station, so it could be used in future for a farm training programme for owners.


Contemporary dancers Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete launch their latest multimedia work in Hamilton tonight.

The Okareka Dance Company’s five act Tama Ma starts with a short film of the two dancers, which the live pair then interact with.

Mr Royal says the work follows a drag queen's journey to femininity and back to masculinity.

“The whole work takes people on this fantastical journey so it’s a biographical work of mine and Tane’s lives, a journey from boyhood to manhood really,” Mr Royal says.


A Maori Party Bill which aims to compensate whanau for land wrongly taken under the Public Works Act gets its first reading tonight.

The bill's sponsor, Te Ururoa Flavell, says hundreds of thousands of acres of Maori land have been taken by the Crown since the first Public Works Act in 1864.

His amendment would mean land taken for a public work and never used for that purpose, or which is no longer needed for that purpose, can be offered back to the original owners.

Current arrangements allow land to be offered back at market price, but Mr Flavell says rather than having to pay up, the original owners or their descendants should see some money coming back the other way.

“In some cases the people who owned that land have been disadvantaged by not being able to use that land. Therefore they should have the ability to move into compensation for their inability to use that land while it’s been in somebody else's grasp,” Mr Flavell says.

He has been promised support from National, United and the Greens to get the through the first reading stage and into a select committee.


Mataatua iwi have marked the day the Treaty of Waitangi arrived in the Easter Bay of Plenty.

Jeremy Gardiner from Te Runanga o Ngati Awa says yesterday's commemoration started with a dawn ceremony at Pohaturoa rock in central Whakatane, and continued with a wananga at Wairaka marae on the history and traditions of the Mataatua waka.

Mr Gardiner says it's the longest running treaty event outside of Waitangi Day, having been going for more than 20 years.

Ngati Awa also marked the day by helping release four kiwi birds into a bush reserve.


Te Papa wants people to add their photos of Matariki celebrations to an online collection.

Exhibition manager Adan Tijerina says 48 images will be selected for display on a massive screen outside Te Papa, as part of its Matariki Festival starting on June 25.

He says the images received so far reflect the diverse ways communities are marking the Maori new year.

He says the way the time of year is celebrated in Aotearoa is unique and needs to be recognized.

Images can be viewed on Te Papa's site at ourspace.tepapa.com.


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