Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

NZ First takes aim again at Maori seats

New Zealand First will stand candidates in the Maori electorates at the next election.

The party's weekend conference voted to change its constitution, reversing an earlier bar on contesting the seats, which New Zealand First made a clean sweep of in 1996.

Former list MP Pita Paraone says the change is sure to be ratified by the party's board, and should boost its harvest of list votes.

“The voters, whether they be Maori or Pakeha and irrespective of which party they support will be looking at what did these parties achieve for them during the parliamentary term. I think even Maori are asking themselves what has the Maori Party delivered thus far,” Mr Paraone says.

He says the conference also confirmed the party's commitment to Maori by electing three Maori decent to its board - leader Winston Peters, former MP Bill Gudgeon and Hineraumoa Apatu from Hamilton.

HEALTH RESEARCH TO BE TURNED INTO ACTION

A conference starting in Dunedin tomorrow aims to turn research on Maori health into action.

Peter Thomas, the Maori caucus representative on the Public Health Association council, says although life expectancy is improving slowly, Maori still live shorter lives than non-Maori.

He says the gap could be narrowed further if inequalities in health service delivery are addressed.

Peter Thomas says as health service providers get greater autonomy because of government policy, sharing research becomes even more important.

SINKING FEELING FOR WAIKATO RIVERBANK MARAE

Central North Island hapu Ngati Tahu is getting ready to shift its marae.

Ohaaki Marae at Orakei Korako on the banks of the Waikato River has been sinking 17 centimetres a year since the Ohaaki geothermal power station was commissioned in 1989 on land leased from the tribe.

Tribal trustee Aroha Campbell says Contact Energy has offered to fund the move to a more stable block of land about a kilometre away.

She says the hardest part of the project may be convincing whanau of the need to move.

“Because the subsidence is moving equally at the marae, you can’t see it because the whole thing is going down. It’s not just going down in one place and not in the other. So from a lot of the iwi who do go back to the marae, they do not see any changes in the marae, other than the river rising,” Ms Campbell says.

She expects there will be some emotional arguments when the proposal is put to the hapu at a hui on September 12.

IHIMAERA GETS TOPU MAORI CULTURAL AWARD

Witi Ihimaera says getting the country’s most prestigious Maori cultural tohu is as good as winning an Academy Award.

The Whale Rider author was named Te Tohutiketike a Te Waka Toi at the Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi Awards over the weekend.

Past recipients include Sir Howard Morrison, the late master carver Pakariki Harrison and weaver Diggeress Te Kanawa.

Ihimaera says he felt honoured to be alongside the kaumatua who were given Ta Kingi Ihaka awards for lifetime contributions to Maori arts and culture, including Te Uruhina McGarvey, Mere Broughton, Bill Tawhai, Whero Bailey and Kukupa Tirikatene

“They are the unsung heroes of Maoridom. This is simply because New Zealand, being the kind of country it is, is really not aware of this almost underground movement that constitutes Maoridom and in our own communities we have these people we honour and they are as important to us as any sir or dame,” Ihimaera says.

He will be presented the award in January at his turangawaewae, Rongopai Marae in Gisborne, during the 110-year anniversary reunion of descendants of 19th century Maori MP Wi Pere.

ARMY TAKES ON CULTURAL ADVISOR

For the first time the New Zealand Defence Force has taken on a Maori cultural advisor.

He's Jerald Twomey from Ngati Raukawa ki Te Tonga, a 22 year veteran of the army.

Warrant Officer Twomey says his job will be to enhance the Defence Force's unique cultural identity and give protocol and policy advice to the force chief, who currently is Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae.

He says his interest in Maori language and tikanga was sparked by learning traditional martial arts.

“It started off with the mo rakau they introduced me to when I was at Waiouru many years ago, Most people who have done mo rakau who don’t know much of anything else, it becomes an avenue for something else. Just follow the pathway to where it takes,” he says

Mr Twomey says defence personnel are now so busy, it can be a challenge to make the time for learning cultural skills.

SPRING TIME FOR PLANTING KUMARA

Today is the first day of spring, and that means it's time to plant your kumara.

That's according to Maori chef and gardener Rewi Spraggon.

He says many people plant their kumara too early, and they should heed the ancient pepeha.

“Kei a koi a tangi o pipiwharauroa, ‘Where were you at the sound of the shining cuckoo’ which is around about now and that is the time to plant your kumara. A lot of people in the country think Matariki is the time for planting but it isn’t. It’s the time for getting the tapapa or getting the beds ready,” Mr Spraggon says.

As well as planting kumara on the new moon, it's also a good time to harvest some crops such as watercress.

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