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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maori bar will push dissent on to MPs

A former local government minister says the exclusion of Maori from the Auckland super city council will create continuing headaches for central government.

Sandra Lee's reforms of local government in the Labour-Alliance government included mechanisms for councils to bring in Maori representation.

She says because the Government rejected the Auckland Governance Royal Commission's treaty-based advice, Maori will be forced to fight on an issue by issue basis.

“The effect of the disenfranchisement of Maori in the case of this new constitutional model will be to see Maori forced to have to deal directly with the Crown over a raft of issues that ordinarily they would have been able to their council, and in fact if the (Royal) Commission’s words had been accepted to advocate on that council,” Mrs Lee says.

She says the size of Auckland's new wards mean even non-Maori are likely to feel unrepresented and turn to their MP rather than their councilor.

HOUSING MINISTER TOURING STATE HOUSE SALES TO MAORI

The Minister of Housing expects many Maori families will jump at the chance to buy the state houses they currently rent.

The offer is open to tenants currently paying market rents, involving just under 4000 houses.

Phil Heatley says new state houses will offset those sold.

“Those Maori families who have been in their state house for a number of years, where their circumstances have changed and perhaps they’ve got to a position where they can buy their state home and they’d like to have that opportunity now to do that and if they do purchase a house, we’ll use the proceeds to get a replacement house for someone on the waiting list,” Mr Heatley says.

The tenants who take up the offer can get their loans underwritten through Housing New Zealand's mortgage insurance scheme.

CHINESE COPIES UNDER-CUTTING MAORI FASHION DESIGNERS

Pirates are plaguing Maori working in the rag trade.

Christine Panapa from Papakura sportswear and apparel company Supaprints regularly spots copies of her unique Maori designs for sale in south Auckland markets.

The copied clothing is imported by the container load from China, but the cost of prosecuting those responsible is prohibitive.

“Probably four or five designs done by my business had gone overseas, were copied, and have come back on track pants, they’ve comeback on T shirts and sweatshirts. In New Zealand we work very hard and you set a price, and when you see your stuff being sold for half that price, it’s quite disheartening,” Ms Panapa says.

CULTURAL TRUANT BURNING BRIDGES TO MAORI COMMUNITIES

Labour MP Shane Jones says National MPs Tau Henare and Simon Bridges have betrayed the Maori who made submissions to a select committee on the
Auckland super city bill.

Mr Jones says the final bill being debated under urgency shows the Maori subcommittee chaired by Mr Henare had no effect on the Government's plans for the country's largest city.

He says Mr Bridges, the MP for Tauranga, was particularly dismissive of those who put the case for separate Maori representation.

“Mr Simon Bridges, despite the fact that he’s a lawyer, has an acidic quality to him. When you go ion the marae, you don’t get acidic to people. You sit and listen. The more acidic he became, the more he became regarded as a cultural truant. I think both of those people, if they are going to be stewards for Maori interests inside that party, have got to actually improve their connections with the people they purport to represent, ie, the slender Maori wing of the National Party,” Mr Jones says.

He says the Maori case was undermined by the Maori Party's push for a complicated mana whenua representation system which would have denied co-leader Pita Sharples a seat if applied to parliamentary electorates.

SUMMIT LEAVES POSITIVE IMPRESSION ON CHILD ADVOCATES

Child advocates are optimistic yesterday's Every Child Counts summit will lead to positive change.

The hui at a Mangere marae brought together 150 people working in poverty prevention, social services, Barnardoes and iwi development.

Tau Huirama, the head of strategic relationships for the Jigsaw national child abuse prevention service says there are few opportunities for those working in the sector to meet together.

Mr Huirama says the hui was more than a talkfest, and some insightful strategies will be presented to the government.

“The workshops were really good. I was in the Maori workshop and it was great that we were able to go back to the wellbeing of tamariki and what that means. Form our discussions it is to inform government around what we think should be happening,” Mr Huirama says.

He says iwi need to become involved in developing strategies to assist Maori families struggling to support their tamariki.

MAYOR BROWN WANTS TOWN ALL IN TE REO

Far North mayor Wayne Brown wants to make Kaikohe a te reo Maori town.

He says making Maori Kaikohe's first language could make the town a tourist attraction, as has happened with some Gaelic-speaking towns in Ireland.

Wayne Brown says some business people are likely to oppose changing all the signs to Maori, but they may eventually see the benefits.

“Well I think it would do great things for it. It’s not much further from Auckland than Rotovegas, they’ve made a lot out of commercializing their Maori culture but they’ve taken it almost to the Disney levels whereas this would be in a core Maori town, the heart of Ngapuhi, one of the major tribes in the country,” Mr Brown says.

He says Kaikohe has to do something new because it's going backwards.

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