Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 28, 2009

Human rights record has blemish

The Race Relations Commissioner says New Zealand is now under notice from the United Nations to improve aspects of its human rights record.

After the first of what will be a four-yearly review process, the UN's Human Rights Council has told the Government it's concerned about social disparities between Maori and non-Maori, the over-representation of Maori in the criminal justice system, and the status of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Joris de Bres says New Zealand came through the review process well, but it can't underestimate the threat to the country's reputation is it doesn't make the required changes.

“New Zealand has broadly a good record and deservedly a good record on human rights in general compared to many other countries. What a process like this underlines is hat does not mean there aren’t serious challenges, that there are reputational issues in terms of New Zealand being a champion of human rights and liberties internationally and it has to ensure it is delivering on those at home in all areas,” Mr de Bres says.

The next Human Rights Council review will be conducted about the same time New Zealand asks other countries to vote it on to a term on the Security Council.


A row over ownership of works by Ralph Hotere withdrawn from auction last week is likely to end up in court.

Auctioneer Ben Plumbley from Art and Object says the reclusive artist have disputed the right of his former partner Annie Ferguson to sell the 58 paintings, prints and drawings she claims were gifted to her 42 years ago.

He says viewers were excited by the rare collection.

“I don't understand a great deal yet except that on the eve of us holding the auction the artist or the artist’s legal advisors asserted ownership of some/all of the collection and when they did that we were faced with no choice but to pull the auction,” Mr Plumbley says.

He says the collection could have fetched in excess of $500,000.


Fellow entertainer and balladier John Rowles says one of Sir Howard Morrison's great talents was his huge heart.

Music industry friends and colleagues have been out in force today at Sir Howard's tangi in Ohinemutu, farewelling the man who set many off on their careers.

John Rowles says Sir Howard's quick wit meant you always had to be on your toes when performing alongside him, and while he may have gone off key occasionally, he had the spirit to carry him through.

“He definitely had that heart which is important for a singer. You must sing from the heart. It’s like a Joe Cocker. If that voice goes off occasionally, the heart is still there with the deliverance of the songs, and Howard had that magic,” he says.

There will be a concert at Ohinemutu tonight to honour Sir Howard, who will be buried tomorrow after a public service on the marae and a private period of family prayer at St Faith's Church.


The Maori cultural renaissance is being studied by other indigenous peoples seeking ways to tackle child abuse in their communities.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and indigenous studies at Canterbury University, says the revival of te reo Maori and other cultural taonga was of great interest to people at two international conferences on indigenous child abuse he attended in Europe over the past month.

He says while his research indicates socio economic conditions rather than ethnicity are behind a high rate of child abuse in Maori families, there is also a correlation with culture.

That's because a decrease in the number of Maori children dying or being abused coincided with the development of kohanga reo, kura and wananga.

“They're going down twice as fast as the non- Maori. That shows us things like our renaissance, strengthening of our culture and so on are making a difference The rebuilding of culture is integral to processes of correcting those sorts of issues,” Mr Taonui says.


A South Island Maori language advocate says hosting next year's Manu Korero secondary school speech competitions in Otipoti ... Dunedin ... will give a welcome boost of pride and kaha to Maori in the south.

Hana O'Regan says she was impressed with the way Te Arawa hosted this year's event in Rotorua, and the way it brings the Maori community together to see the next generation of Maori leaders.

She says Ngai Tahu has few fluent speakers, and even fewer who speak the Ngai Tahu dialect, so is expecting cross tribal support for the event.

“In terms of that cultural identity, the support of the reo, that’s awesome and that’s like a big injection of Maori pride that goes into it and we need that down here,” Ms O'Regan says.


A first time Aboriginal writer and director expects Maori to recognise the storytelling tradition behind his film which opens in Auckland this week.

Warwick Thornton says Samson and Delilah pulls no punches, and while some people may find the story about petrol sniffing teenagers who fall in love in a remote central Australian community disturbing, it depicts harsh realities of Aboriginal life.

The film's been screening for the 20 weeks in Australia, and it's striking a chord in Aboriginal communities.

“For 40,000 years my mob have been telling stories and obviously also with Maori mob, we own storytelling, it’s part of our culture, oral history. We’ve embraced this new medium but we’re still embracing the power of our grandmothers and grandfathers to help us tell these stories, but using film rather than the spoken word,” Thornton says.

Samson and Delilah opens at Auckland's Rialto Cinema later this week.


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