Waatea News Update

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Friday, August 07, 2009

SILNA lands' regime reviewed

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is going out to owners of land covered by the South Island Landless Natives Act to discuss ways to protect some of New Zealand's oldest forests.

The 57,000 hectares of Silna land in Southland, Otago, the West Coast and Nelson was handed over to landless Maori in 1906.

Because of its remoteness, owners have struggled to get an economic return.

Mike Jebsen, MAF's natural resources director, says because of the high conservation value of many blocks, since 2002 the government's policy has been to negotiate conservation covenants or develop sustainable management plans.

“That policy has been running for some time. The funding for that policy runs out next year so the issue for the government is to review where we have got to, the extent the current policy worked or did not work and consider the way forward,” Mr Jebsen says.

The hui will be held at Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Nelson and Wellington at the end of the month.


An opponent of the Kawerau paper mill's discharge right says the mill has done enough damage and should close.

Norske Skog Tasman and Carter Holt Tasman want to renew their resource consent to dump wastewater into the Tarawera River.

Maanu Paul from Ngati Awa says the plant has degraded the river for over 50 years and denied generations access to traditional food sources.

His iwi is sick of paying the price for the mill's profit sheet.

“We can't exercise our right to our foreshore and seabed because where we used to get hapuka is now full of stinking mud. We can’t put up a mussel farm, an oyster farm or whatever we want to do, so we have to suffer so one fellow called Graham Hart makes all the money,” Mr Paul says.

He will state his case at next week's Environment Bay of Plenty’s resource consent hearings.


A Maori tourism development officer says looking after the environment is good for business.

Henare Johnson from Tourism New Zealand conducted workshops on kaitiakitanga at this week's national Ecotourism conference in Nelson.

He says adding Maori values to the tourism industry gives mana to the tourist as well as sustaining the land.

“Kaitiakitanga is not separating us as tangata or human beings from the environment. We’re part of the environment and in fact we’re probably one of the youngest children of tane mahuta, all the trees, the manu, the environment is older than us so with that comes the element of respecting your elders.” Mr Johnson says.

It adds value to the visitor experience if operators can explain what makes the environment special.


Maori unionists are looking at what Maori organisations and communities need to do to help whanau affected by the economic downturn.

The latest household labour force survey shows Maori unemployment at 12.6 percent, more than double the national rate.

Syd Kepa, the convenor of the Council of Trade Unions’ runanga, says the National Distribution Union has set up regional satellite office to help laid off workers.

“You know after a couple of weeks it hits home you haven’t got a job so the offices we’ve developed there with our delegates in it, they come trying to look for jobs, even looking if they haven’t got enough food, so we see our job as going further than the plant gate after they're made redundant,” Mr Kepa says.

He's still waiting for the jobs promised from the government's Maori economic taskforce earlier this year.


The chair of the Whakatohea Trust Board says any environmental damage caused developing the world's largest mussel farm will be offset by its economic and social value to the iwi.

Resource consent has been granted to enlarge the entrance to Opotiki Harbour, so boats can service the 3800ha marine farm the board is building 6 km off the coast.

Robert Edwards says the work may affect some birds, including a threatened dotterel.

“There's a lot of talk about bird life but the area the construction will be going on wouldn’t be a great area really and after everything is finished the birds can come back and resettle again. I think the requirements of our district and work for our people far outweighs that little bit,” Mr Edwards says.

If the channel is not widened, the mussels would need to go to Tauranga for processing.


Maori parents are being warned their children are at a particularly high risk of contracting measles.

The number of cases in Christchurch and Auckland have soared over the past month, prompting public health warnings.

South Auckland general practitioner David Jansen says measles can cause serious side-effects, and Maori in particular should be wary.

“Because our immunization rates are lower and also because we probably have more social contact and that will put us at higher risk terms of the spread,” Dr Jansen says.

Maori don't seem to be aware of the importance of vaccinations for their children.


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