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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mallard defends attack on Moses sentence

Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard says the killing of Janet Moses is not the right case to use for sentencing reform.

In a weekend blog posting, the Labour front-bencher attacked the community sentences imposed on the five family members involved in an attempted exorcism of the mentally unwell Wainuiomata woman.

Mr Mallard said the five siblings weren’t sent to prison because they are Maori.

He says Justice Simon France got it wrong.

“I think there are too many Maori in jail, it’s certainly my view Maori are more likely to be charged, less likely to be well defended and more likely to be imprisoned than Pakeha and we need to keep on doing work on that that but this is not the case that you start with,” Mr Mallard says.

Justice France said the five had only incomplete understanding of their culture and had not realised the danger of what they were doing.

PRECENDENTS FOR COMMUNITY SENTENCES IN SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY

But the director of lobby group Thinking Crime and Punishment says the sentence should not be seen as unusual.

Kim Workman says whanau of Janet Moses are grieving and remorseful, and they are already paying a penalty.

He says there are precedents.

“There have been a number of cases of this kind, not in terms of makutu but where people have sought to deal with issues through spiritual means and it has gone wrong and in those cases the judge has seen fit to acknowledge that they are in error but that the tragedy was sufficient in terms of punishment,” Mr Workman says.

The victim's whanau believes the punishment is appropriate.

TERRACING GIVES CLUE TO ENGINEERING TRADITION

The author of a book on New Zealand engineering says Maori earthworks haven't been given the credit they are due.

Matthew Wright says when the British settled New Zealand, they disregarded any engineering that was not a product of that they saw as European civilisation.

However pa such as the 16th century earthworks on Maungakiekie - One Tree Hill in Auckland, where Nga Marama built more than 170 terraces, show how innovative and capable Maori were.

“Maori society traditionally didn’t have money in the English sense, but everything had to be paid for people, had to build it, it required effort and New Zealand was a very hard land, and environment that was quite adverse, so when you look at the number of pa, the scale of the pa, and the function, this indicates pretty industrious people,” Mr Wright's says.

Big Ideas: 100 Wonders of New Zealand Engineering, also includes the Paterangi chain fortress in Waikato.

HIGH COURT KNOCKS BACK NGAI TAHU EXCLUSIVITY CLAIM

Iwi at the top of the South Island are celebrating a High Court decision recognising their customary right to land within the Ngai Tahu rohe.

Matiu Rei from Ngati Toa Rangatira says the six iwi have been fighting since 1991 to overturn a Maori Appellate Court decision which has been interpreted as giving Ngai Tahu exclusive rights over most of the South Island, including areas with whakapapa connections to Te Tau Ihu.

The case got as far as the Privy Council in London, who sent it back to the New Zealand courts.

“Right from the beginning we thought the decision the Maori Appellate Court made was not a correct decision but nevertheless it put a constraint onus in order to be able to establish our customary role for the customary area,” Mr Rei says.

The decision will allow the tribes to resolve their claims over those areas which overlap with the Ngai Tahu rohe.

SPORT TAKING FROM POOR SCHOOLS FOR THE RICH

Labour's health spokesperson says the government's new Kiwisports promotion takes money from schools with high numbers of Maori and Pacific Island children and gives it to schools in high income areas.

The $20 million scheme was launched last week at an Otara primary school by Prime Minister John Key in the presence of sporting celebrities including John Walker, Peter Snell, Hamish Carter and Graham Henry.

Ruth Dyson says the government made it like it was new money, when in fact it comes from cuts to successful programmes which have decile-based funding.

“I thought $20 million to help our children get involved in sport, fantastic, and then I hear Papatoetoe Scghool is going to lose $8000, Tangaroa College is going to lose the same amount, Otahuhu College is going to lose $6000. They must be really annoyed to see their money going down and some of the money going into the better off schools,” Ms Dyson says.

Cuts include healthy eating programmes which aim to fight childhood obesity.

RAHUI PLACED ON BLUE LAKE AFTER WOMAN GOES MISSING

A Te Arawa kaumatua says the decision to put a rahui on one of Rotorua's lakes wasn't taken lightly.

Anaru Rangiheuea placed the rahui on Tikitapu, the Blue Lake, as police search for a Rotorua woman who went missing last week.

Environment Bay of Plenty agreed to the rahui and placed signs advising of the closure.

He says it ackNowledges the current tapu nature of the area, and is a mark of respect for the woman's family.

“People think it’s a bit of a joke to close a lake and they treat it like that. If we don’t exercise our tikanga and get the acknowledgement of the people to accept our cultural beliefs, our tikanga, we will never get recognized in that. But I have a good rapport with the locals, a good rapport with the councils, and also the police were happy to have that closure,” Mr Rangiheuea says.

The tapu will be lifted after two weeks, unless a body is found earlier.

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