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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sharples confident flag pattern will be found

The Minister of Maori Affairs is confident Maori will agree on a design that represents all Maori.

Yesterday Pita Sharples was at Te Puea marae in South Auckland for the launch of a round of consultation hui to decide on a flag to represent all Maori iwi and hapu.

Dr Sharples says although there will be some opposition to whatever design is adopted, he's confident the hui will come up with a flag to unite Maori.

There will be some who will be dead set and they always have bee. There are some who do not recognise our government, so you are going to get some that don’t agree no matter what and that’s fine too. It’s their right. But consensus means just that and I’m sure at 21 hui we will be able to evaluate how people feel about things,” Pita Sharples says.

He says New Zealand should follow Australia’s example where the aboriginal flag is regularly seen beside the Australian flag.


However the leader of the opposition Phil Goff says the Maori party should think less about flags and more about the health of their people.

“There's a lot of emphasis the Maori Party’s putting on symbolic things but it’s the real things that count. It’s about nutrition. It’s about diet. It’s about having a job to go to. It’s about having an income on which you can support your family. These are the things that I would expect the Maori Party to be supporting Labour on as we speak out against what is happening and what is happening disproportionately to the Maori community and the Pasifika community in New Zealand,” Mr Goff says.

He says the Maori Party are doing their own people a disservice by not supporting initiatives to reduce obesity in New Zealand.

He says a recently released international survey put New Zealand third in the world, behind Mexico and the United States, as the most obese populations in the western world.

However Phil Goff says the National government, with Maori party backing, scrapped the Labour prompted healthy tuckshops initiative, and the fruit in schools programme, both designed to curb obesity among adolescents.


A hapu in the far north is using sand, clay and flax to help rural Maori suffering due to low quality housing.

Nga Hapu o Ahipara is working with the Univerity of Auckland's engineering school to build an Uku whare made from a mixture of earth, harakeke and cement by early next year.

Project leader Rueben Porter says the Uku whare, which tests show is expected to last 500 years, could cut the cost of building a home by 70 percent.

He says it would also allowed Maori to return to using natural resources rather than cheap low quality building materials.

“First you have to purchase the weatherboards. Then you have to purchase the timber, the four by twos, the nails, plasterboard, paint, plastering etc etc to create a house whereas using this style that’s coming out of the university the three ingredients we need is sand, earth and korare,” Mr Porter says.

The natural resources are available to rural Maori, many of whom are shareholders of large blocks of land.


Maori party co leader Pita Sharples says critics of his party's rally to find a Maori flag are overlooking the unity a Maori flag will inspire.

Labour leader Phil Goff says there are more important issues than which flag should fly on Auckland Harbour Bridge next Waitangi Day … such as the total unemployed now topping 50,000.

Speaking yesterday at Te Puea Marae in Auckland at the first of 21 hui to find a flag all Maori can agree on to represent tangata whenua, Dr Sharples said critics underestimate the good that will come from having a flag to unite all iwi and hapu.

“Look, having a flag under which Maori can rally is really, really, really important. People might just see it as a shallow thing, but the reality is we do not fly our flag so it’s about recognition. This is a chance to have our own flag, and the respect it will give and the mana it will give back to Maori is vital,” he says.

Dr Sharples the flag issue has not detracted the Maori party from other important kaupapa such as health, land, treaty and employment issues.


Auckland mana whenua tribes Ngati Whatua and Tainui say they are being pragmatic in now seeking two rather than the four mana whenua seats originally wanted on Auckland Super City.

Ngati Whatua representative Ngarimu Blair says the mana whenua representatives would be supported by a Maori Advisory board representing all hapu, iwi and taurahere.

“It balances mana whenua interests in that the councillors that run for the seat must demonstrate whakapapa to either of those two iwi, Tainui and Ngati Whatua However, all Maori on the Maori roll who reside in Auckland can vote for those councilors that run,” Mr Blair says.

He says this would be in keeping with the principle of manaakitanga which gives mana whenua the right to govern but the responsibility to work with all.

Labour Party local government spokesperson Shane Jones says such a system would give the government the excuse it wants not to have Maori representatives on the council because the selection of candidates would not be democratic.


A new programme which offers cardiac rehab to heart patients in their own home is expected to help Maori who traditionally are not comfortable with seeking rehab in a clinic.

Cardiac care manager Stewart Eadie says because Maori heart patients often can't or won't leave their homes to attend traditional cardiac rehab at hospitals, they miss out on significant benefits.

“When you consider 45 percent of Maori men will die before the age of 65, that is four times the rate of Pakeha, we’ve got to be doing something about it and cardiac rehab decreases sickness and death by about 25 to 30 percent, so this is just a no brainer, we’ve got to get this out there to Maori,” Mr Eadie says.

The Heart Foundation is training nurses to deliver the Heart Guide Aotearoa programme through DBHs and PHOs around the country.


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