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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, July 17, 2009

Carver Lyonel Grant awarded honorary doctorate

Unitec has awarded an honorary doctorate to the creator of its new meeting house.

In a ceremony this afternoon at Te Noho Kotahitanga marae, academic board head Ray Meldrum said the doctorate in education recognises Lyonel Grant's contribution to the New Zealand educational, cultural and artistic landscape.

He says the house, which took six years to complete, is a legacy to those Mr Grant learned from and will be an education for those yet to come.

Mr Grant, from Ngati Pikiao, says he accepted the degree as a way of recognising the huge collective effort required in building a wharenui.

“I've come to terms with it that it is more for the people who have guided me along the way more than for me here today in this placeand time. Sure beats writing about it, actually making it,” he sayd.

Mr Grant was supported at the ceremony by a large group from Ngati Pikiao and from Ngati Manawa, who provided the timber for the house.


Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples wants to see a review of prison and sentencing policies.

His government colleagues have rejected criticism of the system from Chief judge Dame Sian Elias, who suggested a limited amnesty could be a solution to prison overcrowding.

Dr Sharples, who is working on Maori rehabilitation programmes to reoffending, says too many people are ending up in jail.

“I don't know whether I agree with an actual amnesty but I certainly agree with the actual sentiments. We incarcerate far too many people in this country and I think we just have to change our culture. There are many people in prison who shouldn’t be there. The offences were minder and I think we have to change the way we look at handing out our sentences,” Dr Sharples says.


Maori filmmakers want more control of how their stories go out to the world.

Pita Turei from Nga Aho Wakaari says Sunday's Kiriata forum, running alongside the Auckland film festival, is a chance for Maori working in film and television to talk about creative control, cultural capital and funding issues.

He says Maori must make sure they are at the forefront of presenting Maori stories to the world.

“It's very easy for us who live in Aotearoa, the cultural environment we live in, to assign the production, the storytelling, the articulation of our world and our culture, to assign that to people of another culture. We pay a price for that,” Mr Turei says.

Sunday's forum will include a panel with producer Tainui Stevens, Lawrence Wharerau from the New Zealand Film Archive, and writer Briar Grace Smith, whose film The Strength of Water gets its first new Zealand screening tomorrow night.


Ngati Pikiao turned out in force today to celebrate the continued strength of the iwi's carving tradition.

A large ope came through from Lake Rotoiti to Unitec to see carver Lyonel Grant awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of his achievement creating the Auckland tertiary institution's Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae.

Kaumatua Arapeta Tahana says Mr Grant is in a long line of Ngati Pikiao master carvers, who were known for houses not just in the Bay of Plenty but throughout the motu.

“He's caught a lot of the korero from way back and he’s retelling it in a quite different way and of course using all the art which is a new thing for us, but I think like them he is a true artist,” Mr Tahana says.


The amount being spent on pokies is at a seven year low, but the gaming machines continue to be a problem in the poorest communities.

Zoe Martin the kaiwhiriwhiri kaupapa for problem gambling at Auckland Maori health organisation Hapai Te Hauora, says while Manukau City has a sinking lid policy to reduce the number of machines, other councils have been slow to follow.

She says the accessibility of pokies is a challenge from Maori fighting the addiction.

“They're where our people live. That draw is stronger because they are in our community. You don’t have to go to Sky City. They’re in our communities, so we continue to spend, because we are hopeful our lives will get better,” Ms Martin says.

She says too much of the $900 million which went through the machines last year came from Maori who come to believe gambling is their way out of financial strife.


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