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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mark unhappy with prison rehab

Former New Zealand First and Maori MP Ron Mark has criticised what he describes as the appalling failure of rehabilitation programmes in prisons which he says are run by idiots who should have been fired years ago.

Ron Mark says the suggestion of Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias of amnesties for prisoners is not the answer but good rehabilitation programmes are.

He says a study he undertook during 12 years as an MP showed that of 20 rehabilitation programmes run by the Corrections department 17 made virtually no difference with three of the programmes actually resulting in increased reoffending.

He says the programmes are badly designed, making unrealistic demands that inmates must demonstrate they no longer use drugs before getting treatment.

Ron Mark says as well as a lack of rehabilitation programmes the Corrections department has failed to provide education in prisons which would have turned repeat offending.


In spite of the fact that many Maori fought under the New Zealand flag it has gained little support as an option for the Maori flag at consultation hui being held around the country.

Consultation leader Hone Harawira says it has come down to two options, the flag of the 1835 United Tribes of New Zealand and the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.

“Of the couple of hundred odd who have been through the exercise so far, I don’t think anyone voted for the New Zealand flag. There were a number of old soldiers there as well. I think they clearly recognise that possibly that it’s the flag the New Zealand nation fought for and marched under but not particularly reflective of us as Maori,” Mr Harawira says.

He says debate surrounding choice of a flag has been romantic, edgy, and at times aggressive because people are passionate about Maori having a single flag.


The writer of the latest Maori film to make a splash at international film festivals is enjoying watching it among Maori audiences.

The Strength of Water is about a mysterious stranger arriving in a remote New Zealand coastal town and affecting the lives of young pair of twins.

It was filmed in the north Hokianga with a largely amateur cast of locals, with help from veterans Jim Moriarty and Nancy Brunning.

Briar Grace Smith attended the New Zealand premier at the Auckland film festival.

“It was just wonderful on Saturday night seeing all of our people in the theatre because it’s already been shown in Berlin and Rotterdam. It was lovely sitting among Maori in the audience and hearing them get the different layers like those other layers in the film perhaps they didn’t pick up on in Europe,” Grace-Smith says.


A long time worker in the field of Maori problem gambling says a drop in the overall amount being spent on pokies has not reduced the serious problems they cause in Maori communities.

The Department of Internal Affairs says spending on pokies is at a seven-year low but still amounts to nearly $900 million a year.

Zoe Martin who is the kaiwhiriwhiri kaupapa problem gambling at Auckland's Hapai Te Hauora Tapui says low income communities including many where there are large numbers of Maori are still struggling with problems from gambling.

She says the people still gambling in the face of the recession are the ones with a real gambing addiction.


Former New Zealand First and MP Ron Mark who is no longer involved with the party but still a member says the challenge now for the New Zealand First is for leader and fellow Maori Winston Peters to build confidence in the public eye.

Ron Mark says despite the appalling way the Owen Glen affair was handled, where donations to the party by the ex-pat millionaire were questioned, Winston Peters is a good and honest man albeit a bit of a lone ranger.

“Things that he was saying which were considered dinosauric economic policies are pretty much the vogue these days because the greedies have all had their day and now they’ve crashed and burned and the taxpayers are propping them up all over the world.

“I guess it’s about confidence and I guess he needs to rebuild that confidence in him in the eyes of the public and that’s the challenge for New Zealand First,” Mr Mark says.

He says people forget that Winston Peters was the first to raise the issue of the Bank of New Zealand's tax avoidance which has now been upheld by the court and that he led the charge against the sale of state assets such as New Zealand Rail which the previous government bought back.


A project aimed at helping urban Maori to participate in city planning has found a wide variation of practices in different areas around the country.

Kaitiakitanga o nga taone Nui project leader Shaun Awatere says there are plenty of first generation iwi management plans out there but the struggle is in getting that matauranga Maori into the local government planning process.

“In some areas it is much more clear cut who are the kaitiaki for that particular area. There’s legislative guidance. But in other areas it’s a bit more murky that you have not only iwi and hapu in a particular area but you also have large populations of Maori who may not necessarily whakapapa to that area,” Mr Awatere says.

In some cities the situation can get quite messy when talking about Maori kaitiakitanga alongside local government.


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