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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sharples confusing personality with politics

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is giving his party’s relationship with the National-led Government top marks, despite not seeing eye to eye on issues like the foreshore and seabed legislation, Maori seats on an Auckland super city council or New Zealand’s continued failure to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

He says after 6 months things couldn't be better.

“Oh I'd give it 100 percent because we’ve both been able to weather the storms that have come out of issues where we haven’t agreed and that’s the judge of a relationship, whether it’s durable or not and I think we’ve been able to keep our own paths but without giving away deep structure and causes why we’re there. I think we’ve managed very well,” Dr Sharples says.


But former Alliance president Matt McCarten says the Maori Party co-leader is confusing personal chemistry with political advancement.

The Unite union leader says Pita Sharples clearly has affinity with Prime Minister John Key, but the success of the relationship will be measured by what his party can gain for its supporters.

“They haven’t really gained anything you can point to. It’s more about the process and the relationship and the security of it, and that’s because it’s in John Key’s interest as well not to make the Maori Party look bad unless it comes down to things the Nats or ACT care about and the Maori Party get relegated down to a distant third, and so that’s why it’s six out of 10,” Mr McCarten says.


Maori organic growers are looking at establishing a brand for their produce consistent with international organic standards.

Their association, Te Waka Kai Ora, met at Roma Marae in Ahipara over the weekend to share growing tips and explore options for collective distribution and marketing.

Coordinator Pounamu Skelton says the Hua Parakore brand is being developed in response to a growing market for foods and medicines which are culturally and environmentally responsible.

Pounamu Skelton says Te Waka Kai Ora is reaching out to other indigenous organisations to see whether it can promote export opportunities.


Ngai Tahu is fighting to protect an historic waterway from hydro electric development.

Its Otago runanga is supporting a Fish and Game proposal to include the Nevis River in the water conservation order that covers the Kawerau River, which runs from Lake Wakatipu down to Lake Dunston.

That would stymie Pioneer Generation's long term plans to dam the river.

Edward Ellison from the runaka's resource management arm - Kai Tahu Ki Otago Ltd - says the Nevis and its tributaries were an important route for tupuna travelling from Southland into Central Otago and the Queenstown area.

“There are likely to be archaeological sites, even though they are below the surface of the ground where they obviously camped as they would of had to as they traversed that valley. There’s no way they could have covered it in a day. So there will be camps that will be flooded if a reservoir is put there for hydroelectric purposes,” Mr Ellison says.

Long term, the runanga would also like to see work done to rebuild the river's eel population and other native fisheries.


A Wellington paediatrician is raising the alarm at the number of Maori and Pacific Island children who are getting serious skin infections.

Nikki Blair says over the past decade the number of Maori children being admitted to Wellington region hospitals with skin infections almost doubled, and the situation is even worse in the northern North Island.

She says the infections are linked to overcrowding and poverty which meant families can not afford after-hours medical care or hot water.

Dr Blair says simple interventions by schools and primary healthcare providers can be effective at reducing the problem.

“We do believe there are some interventions, no matter which socioeconomic part of the community you come from, which can be done to improve the skincare of children particularly after any graze or cut, it’s very important these areas are cleaned and dressed appropriately with antiseptic so there is no portal for infection,” Dr Blair says.

Public health nurses could be used to educate parents and schools about cleaning and properly dressing children's cuts and grazes.

The chair of the Maori Tourism Council says Maori operators need to look for innovative ways to benefit from the proposed nationwide cycleway.

The government put money in the budget to start the $50 million cycle route through some of the country's most picturesque areas.

John Barrett says the sort of tourists interested in using the cycleway want a taste of the real New Zealand, and Maori are well placed to offer a unique enviro-cultural experience.

“Tourists and visitors like those who like to cycle definitely want to interact with local people,” Mr Barrett says.

His own business is unlikely to benefit from the cycleway - he runs tours to Kapiti Island.


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