Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conciliator impervious to mayoral bullying

The Race Relations Commissioner is shrugging off a campaign by Michael Laws to have him sacked.

The Wanganui mayor is upset at Joris de Bres's support for students at an Otaki kura who questioned his opposition to restoring the H in the spelling of the city's name.

Mr Laws responded by telling the children he would only take their views seriously when they start addressing the real issues of Maoridom such as rates of child abuse and child murder.

Mr de Bres says part of his job is highlighting contributions to positive race relations and that's why he presented the girls with certificates last Friday.

“This is just a way of saying to them ‘Look, good on you for writing, you should have the courage of your convictions and you shouldn’t fell intimidated by the mayor of Wanganui.’ So it was a message saying to keep feeling confident to speak your minds and don't be intimidated,” Mr de Bres says.

Other groups who got a certificate or letter this month included the Christchurch Russian Cultural Centre and the organisers of a festival in Gisborne marking the landing of Captain Cook.


League stars Tawera Nikau and Richie Barnet have set up a construction company to target iwi development projects.

Mr Nikau laid out his plans for Aotearoa Construction to the Federation of Maori Authorities conference over the weekend.

He says with talk around of major infrastructure development by iwi, it's important Maori be more than passive investors.

“A lot of the iwi, the likes of Tainui and Ngai Tahu, are already talking to the Government around those projects at the moment in terms of those public private partnerships so the bigger picture is long term investment for Maori, employment, training and the upskilling of our people. If Maori don’t look after their people, nobody else will,” Mr Nikau says.

He says a large number of Maori work at the lower ends of the construction industry, but the time is right for them to move into decision-making and profit-sharing roles.


The family of the late Hone Tuwhare is setting up a retreat for writers at the Catlins crib where the poet spent the last 15 years of his life.

Son Rob Tuwhare says a trust is being formed to buy and restore the Kaka Point property.

He says a year after his father's death interest continues to grow in the work of the Ngapuhi poet, who has just been included in an Australian anthology for secondary schools of writing from around the world.

“The first stop is Aotearoa and the first poem is dad’s poem Rain and then they travel to South America and look at a poem by Pablo Neruda and when you see dad on par with those international writers like Dylan Thomas, you think ‘He’s up there with world poets,’” Mr Tuwhare says.

Fund raising for the Kaka Point residency will start early in the new year.


The Race Relations Commissioner says young people need to be encouraged to
speak their minds, even if upset politicians.

Joris de Bres has drawn fire from Michael Laws for giving certificates to
students from an Otaki kura who wote to the Wanganui mayor criticising his
opposition to spelling Wanganui with an H.

He says as commissioner he issues commendations every month to individuals
or groups who contribute to positive race relations.

Mr de Bres says democracy means Mr Laws has a right to express his views,
and so do children.

“We should encourage children to express their views and we shouldn’t intimidte them. We should take them seriously whether or not we agree with them and so in this case, this was a group of young Maori children who I was very impressed by when I went to meet them, very proud of their culture, performed a wonderful kapa haka sequence at the concert, and I thought these children need encouragement, not dismissal,” Mr de Bres


There was a special welcome for widows at a reunion of New Zealand troops who fought in Malaya and Borneo in the 1950s and 60s.

Hundreds of veterans gathered at the Manurewa RSA over Labour Weekend to catch up with old comrades, enjoy performances by members of the Maori Volcanics showband and attend a church service featuring the first reading of a specially commissioned collect for Malayan veterans.

Organising committee member Jim Perry says a special place was made for widows, with the ritual of kawe mate providing a link to the many fallen comrades.

“Our widows are very important to us and for the first time ever widows have been invited to a reunion. Hey brought their husbands’ photos on and we got them blessed,” Mr Perry says.

Guests at the reunion included the Governor General and King Tuheitia... who was a territorial with 161 Battery.


A chance to hang out with whanau was as much a draw as the titles on offer when Taranaki hosted the Maori surfing champs over the weekend.

Bachelor Tipene from Ngati Ruanui picked up the open men's title and Jessica Santorik of Ngati Raparapa beat defending champion Jayda Martin-Fitzharris of Ngati Porou in the open women's division.

Waretini Wano continued the Taranaki dominance, with the Te Atiawa 13-year-old winning the under 18 title.

His father Te Kauhoe Wano says Maori surfers are always keen to take part in the Aotearoa championship because it offers something extra.

“There's another element to the Maori surf nationals and it’s the tikanga side and the reo side and more importantly the whanaugatanga side because surfing can be an individual sport. It’s all about doing things as a whanau and it brings the best out in our Maori surfers,” Mr Wano says.


Whanaungatanga was also to the fore at the Nga Hau E Wha squash tournament, which drew 180 players to Hastings and Havelock North over the weekend.

Michael Pittams of Wellington took the men's open title, and combined with Tamsyn Leevey to beat Auckland couple Trevor Walker and Tania Tatana in the open doubles.

Commonwealth Games silver medalist Leevey, from Ngati Tuwharetoa, also retained her women's open title, which she has held five times in 10 appearances at the tourney.

“It's an awesome tournament which is why I go back, for the atmosphere. It’s well run and everyone feels like family. It’s great to be part of the whole event,” she says.

Tamsyn Leevey is looking forward to defending her title at next year's tournament at Wellington's Island Bay club, nine days after the end of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doris de Breast - that's what Michael Laws has been calling the commissioner on his radio show.

9:17 PM  

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