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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Forestry assets transferred

It’s an historic day for Maori.

The massive Central North Island Treelords settlement takes effect today with the return of $500 million worth of assets to eight iwi in the region.

And the review panel on the contraversial Seabed and Foreshore legislation reports back to parliament this afternoon.

Iwi in the Central North Island broke new ground when they came together without lawyers last year and agreed to the CNI deal under which the Crown returns 170,000 hectares of forest.

The eight iwi will also divvy up around $280 million from Crown Forestry Rental Trust bank accounts.

In anticipation of the settlement consultants employed to investigate business opportunities are recommending the iwi consider the creation of a $2 billion power generation company to tap into the areas geothermal resource.

This could see the tribes supplying 10 to 20 per cent of New Zealand's electricity within five to 10 years.

And this afternoon the country will learn what the panel set up to review the Seabed and Foreshore legislation has come up with.

Both National and Labour have indicated they won't be quickly responding to recommendations aimed at addressing concerns which led to the formation of the Maori Party five years ago when the Labour government passed legislation to guarantee public access to beaches.


An iwi liasion officer says workibng as Maori wardens is a perfect training ground for rangatahi wanting to pursue a career in the Police.

None Martin, from Waitakere City Police, says the wardens provide a solid environment with practical experience dealing with all types of people.

He says the police and the wardens have a good working relationship.


The manager responsible for bedding down of the CNI Treelords deal, which sees $500 worth of assets returned to central North Island iwi today, says the treaty settlement will give Maori great heart at a time when the recession is being widely felt.

George Asher who has been lead negotiator on behalf of the eight iwi who today take over management of 170,000 hectares of forest and receive around $280 million in cash says considerable work has gone into ensuring the asset is wisely used.

This includes employing consultants to investigate business opportunities who are proposing iwi consider investing in a $2 billion project to develop the geothermal energy under the forest.

“It’s very significant in time of economic downturn that iwi are in this position to consider those opportunities,” Mr Asher says

The power project which could see the iwi supplying 10 to 20 percent of the country's electricity within 10 years is in the preliminary stage of investigation will only come about if the various iwi decide to invest in it.


Middlemore Hospital's new tissue bank will rely on Maori patients consenting to store and study their cancerous DNA, which could lead to better targeted therapies to attack certain cancer cells prevalent in Maori populations.

The cancer tissue bank, the first in the North Island, is expected to start storing samples in -80C freezers next year in an effort to determine genetic abnormalities that cause cancer.

Clinical director Samar Issa says the hospital is sensitive to the dilemma faced by Maori in the storage and use of dna and each case will have strict ethics approval.

Dr Issa says staff are working with the hospital's iwi group, and will be offering advice on the research and targeted therapies.


Billed as the ultimate showcase for Maori art, culture and business, the Maori expo Atamira which takes place in Auckland this weekend, will also take the time to recognise those who have contributed to Maori Innovation.

Atamira co ordinator, Ngaire Wilson, says on Saturday a one day innovation summit will be held on Saturday.

Ms Wilson says it's a timely opportunity for Maori to honour their peers who have made a real difference to science and research innovation.

Rhonda Kite, who runs post-production facilities, and Ian Taylor from Animation Research, the man behind the America's cup graphics are among the keynote speakers.


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