Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, July 17, 2009

Imprisonmnet rate hurting Maori communities

A prison reform lobbyist wants the Government to address the damage the high imprisonment rate is doing to Maori communities.

Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment is endorsing a call by chief Justice Dame Sian Elias for amnesties to tackle prison overcrowding.

The Government rejected the idea, but Mr Workman says where early release has been used in the United States, crime has not gone up and in some cases has gone down.

He says excessive use of custodial sentences means in some parts of the country, whole streets have been emptied of Maori men.

“We know that some of these guys are a liability but they are also an asset. Often they can control members of the whanau. They contribute as breadwinners. They protect the women in that environment and so on. When you take them out of that, often the youth gangs emerge so you have 12 to 18 year olds running the scene so the women aren't protected,” Mr Workman says.

Shortening sentences could quickly knock 1000 off the muster, which now stands at a near record 8434 prisoners.


Increased funding of health camps will allow redevelopment of the Rotorua camp into a more whanau-oriented place.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has boosted her ministry's grant to the camps by one and a half million dollars to just over $14 million.

Fiona Inkpen, the head of Te Puna Whaiora trust which runs the seven camps, says almost half of the camps' clients are Maori.

She says the injection will allow a $2 million revamp of the Princess of Wales camp to go ahead.

“It’s going to enable us to build more of a village for the children to have much more of a home like experience and we believe that will build a culture of respect and healing that will enable them to really transform,” Ms Inkpen says.

She says over their 80 year history the camps have proven their effectiveness in helping children and families with serious health, education and welfare inequalities.


Drag out your flared piupius. One of Tauranga's best loved kapa haka group's from the 1970s has been revived.

Under the leadership of Bob and Lorraine Rawiri, Te Kapa Haka O Te Aranga took the dance and waiata of Tauranga around the country and across the Tasman 30 years ago.

Current tutor Koro Nicholas says many of the old members have signed on again to give the younger performers an insight into how kapahaka has changed.

“In the 70s kapa haka was more of a sweet sound and now kapa haka is more loud, it’s in your face and quite different so we see the differences in the way we perform, the way we sing, so it’s good to have these old members in the group, and they’re keen because they’re performing with their daughters and sons,” he says.

The new roopu will be unveiled at a tribute concert tonight at Bethlehem College.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is giving Winston Peters some political advice ... don't stand in Tauranga.

The Te Tai Hauauru MP has never doubted the New Zealand First leader would try for a comeback.

This week Mr Peters posted an apology to party members for, as he put it, allowing his opponents to create a perception of wrongdoing, when in fact, no offences were committed.

Mrs Turia says even if he manages to overcome the donations scandal which dogged his last year in Parliament, Tauranga voters are over their former MP.

“Simon Bridges is an outstanding young man and I’ve been up into Tauranga and I know in what high regard Simon is held. He will continue to hold the confidence of Tauranga so I guess what Winston will do is look for the party, so he’ll go out there with issues he thinks will appeal to a particular select group,” Mrs Turia says.


A prominent Maori producer believes Maori film is ready for another push into international markets.

Tainui Stephens is taking part in a forum this weekend as part of the Auckland Film Festival.

The Kiriata forum will discuss cultural capital and how to use Maori culture in the filmaking process.

He says tomorrow's New Zealand debut of director Armegan Ballantyne and writer Briar Grace Smith's Strength of Water, and the imminent release of Taika Waititi's Volcano and Michael Bennett's Matariki, shows Maori story-telling is in good heart.

“The Maori world is on the brink of wonderful new film and television storytelling and there’s been a dearth of Maori films over recent years but I think we ‘re getting traction as far as the skills out there is concerned,” Mr Stephens says.

He will be joined on the panel by directors Ballantyne and Meihana Durie and Lawrence Wharerau from the New Zealand Film Archive.


A cross cultural musical fundraiser tonight will help pay for the tangi of a young Maori man killed in Jamaica a week ago.

27 year old Tiki Hunia was shot during a robbery at his Kingston guesthouse.

He is being brought back for burial in Te Teko, where he grew up with his grandmother.

Will Ilolahia from Auckland's Waiata Trust says tonight's event is a gesture of support for Mr Hunia's biological father, Herbs co-founder Alan Foulkes.

The Michael Jackson themed fundraiser will be held at the Waiata trust's headquarters, a rambling building in Sandringham known as the Bungavard.


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