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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Research looks at workplace codes

Researchers at Victoria University are looking at ways Maori and Pakeha can feel more comfortable with each other in the workplace.

With a grant from the Marsden Fund, they have been comparing language used by Maori and Pakeha leaders in different workplaces to find how ethnicity and culture influence work interactions.

Project director Janet Holmes says Maori often look for cues from their own culture, such as they might expect in a marae setting.

“When Maori work in European workplaces, we perhaps take more account of the fact that individual criticisms are not a familiar way of doing things for many Maori people or that opening a meeting with a very casual ‘okay, let’s get started’ is very uncomfortable for many Mari people who feel it ought to have a bit more ceremony attached to it, it should at least be a bit more formal,” Professor Holmes says.

The research by the team from Victoria University's Language in the Workplace will be included in a book to be published next year by Oxford University Press.


A longstanding member of the National Party is disappointed at the party's failure to elect Sir Wira Gardiner to its governing board.

The former army officer and Te Puni Kokiri head mounted a high profile campaign for the party presidency, but his ambitions were swept aside by an Auckland push to secure the job for lawyer Peter Goodfellow.

Hikurangi Cherrington, who chairs National's Tai Tokerau electorate organisation, says the result exposes a deficiency in the party at a time it needs to attract more Maori votes to consolidate its hold on power.

“One of the questions that was put to John Key when he came to the Otiria Marae was there is just no Maori voice on the board. We’ve got nine board members which are all non-Maori,” Mr Cherrington says.

He says Wira Gardiner may not have been a big vote winner in the wider Maori electorate because many of his past actions have upset sections of the Maori community.


A Ngati Kahungunu artist is translating the sounds of taonga puoro into art.
Israel Birch grinds patterns into stainless steel and then builds up layers of pigment and lacquer.

He's called the show Te Kauru O Te Rangi, after an ancestor in a well known Ngati Kahungunu narrative.

Mr Birch, who has a Master's degree in Maori Visual Arts from Massey University's Te Putahi-a-Toi, says the work was influenced by making and playing traditional instruments.

“I tend to anchor my work in kaupapa Maori but at the same time modernise it or push it to the next level. I’ve gone back to the essence of sound or looked at it in terms of anything that moves vibrates and anything that vibrates causes sound so I’m looking at repetition of patterns to reflect this vibration,” he says.

Te Kauru o Te Rangi will be at Page Blackie Gallery in Wellington until the end of the month.


Former Maori affairs minister Tau Henare says whanau and communities need to join with government to create a strong work ethic among rangatahi.

The National list MP says the $40 million Community Max scheme, which aims to get up to 3000 unskilled youth into community projects, is a way to instill the right attitudes needed for a strong future workforce.

He says it will benefit rural areas like Northland where there is high youth unemployment.

“They're the ones who are going to be looking after us when we are 60 or 70 and if we don’t get them into a work ethic and work experience now they never will. I think it’s a huge opportunity for our Mari communities to rally around, get our young people back on the wagon,” Mr Henare says.

The Community Max scheme will be managed by Work and Income.


An Auckland kaitiaki says the death of dogs on North Shore beaches is a symptom of long term abuse of the environment by local government.

Biosecurity scientists are trying to find what killed dogs on Browns Bay and Cheltenham Beaches, and is killing fish further up the coast.

Pita Turei from Ngati Paoa and Ngai Tai says the fact there are 24 outlets which tip raw sewage into the harbour after heavy rains must be a factor.

“We're getting indications we are putting too much crap into our water systems. Cheltenham Beach has always been a measure of the amount of crap that comes out of the harbour every day that sweeps around there. If the dogs die, we are likely to die as well,” Mr Turei says.

He says local authorities treat consultation with tangata whenua as a token exercise, rather than working with iwi to find solutions.


A tohu is to be erected in an Otara park to honour the work of a local kuia.

Minnie Mariu has lived in Firth Crescent since 1961 and is known for keeping the park across from her home free of grafitti and keeping rangatahi off the streets.

She says the park is for tamariki, so if wayward rangatahi drink or causing trouble she asks them to move on ... which they do so respectfully.

She is honoured by the Manukau Beautification Charitable Trust's plans to to put a seat in the park with her name on.


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