Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 29, 2009

DNA law will be used responsibly claims English

Acting prime minister Bill English is playing down the fears of Maori Party MP Rahui Katene that new DNA sampling laws will bring young Maori into conflict with the police.

The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Act was passed under urgency yesterday with only the Maori Party and the Greens voting against it.

Mr English says DNA sampling is a potent weapon in the fight against crime and the police are keen to expand its use.

“Comments that Rahui's made means there are many people going to be keeping a very close eye on it because you’ve always got to be careful the police use the discretion they’ve got carefully, that they don’t overstep the mark and I think it’s the same with any police power. It will be accepted by the community if it’s used wisely and well and it will be the same with DNA,” Mr English says.

The law fulfils a National 2008 election campaign promise.


And Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says DNA sampling will protect Maori from lazy lawyering and wrong court decisions.

Parekura Horomia says many young Maori get poor service from legal aid lawyers and end up pleading guilty to crimes they have not committed.

“There are some lazy lawyers who use it as an excuse to clock up our people who are getting done over or locked up or charged unnecessarily. We have a lot of decisions made in this country that are unproven or people saying ‘well I never did it,’” Mr Horomia says.


A former member of Rotorua District Council's Te Arawa standing committee says Maori in the region need to use the ballot box to effect change.

Hawea Vercoe quit this month because he says the committee is a toothless taniwha where iwi representatives are outnumbered two to one by council members or appointees.

He says that imbalance contributes to the Rotorua council's opposition to Maori wards, meaning Maori face huge obstacles getting a meaningful voice on council.

“The key for Maoridom is somehow addressing the level of apathy we’ve still got when it comes to voting. Rotorua’s got 36 percent Maori population yet we still struggle to get Maori representatives voted on,” Mr Vercoe says.

He follows the resignation of Piki Thomas last month, so the Te Arawa committee now includes only one iwi representative.


A veteran of the Department of Maori Affairs says a new whanau advocacy programme harks back to the Tu Tangata era of the 1970s and 80s.

Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples launched the kaitoko whanau scheme at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt this morning.

Te Puni Kokiri will fund iwi and runanga around the country to hire 50 advocates to work in communities to ensure families under stress are getting the services they are entitled to.

Bill Kaua, a former Maori Affairs regional manager, says community involvement is a hallmark of the tu tangata philosophy.

“Tu tangata was a kaupapa which has been handed down generation to generation by our people. The kaitoko programme is very much a tu tangata type programme where the actual job is being managed and monitored by the people. It’s very similar to some of the programmes we ran in the departmental days,” Mr Kaua says.

As a Maori Affairs community officer in the 1980s, Pita Sharples had hands on experience with tu tangata.


The government wants to hear from iwi interested in buying state houses.

Yesterday Whakatu Incorporation chairman Paul Morgan said it is the right time for Housing New Zealand to sell its 70-thousand homes to low income families and use the proceeds to build new houses.

Acting prime minister Bill English says National government policy is to allow sales to tenants, but it's unlikely to be taken up on a large scale because few tenants can afford to buy them.

He says the government is aptly described as the nation's largest slum landlord.

“The actual quality of the houses has been running down because the money that was meant to be spent maintaining it, Labour spent on buying new houses so they could say they were building and buying new houses so we are actually keen to hear from iwi who have ideas about participating in running the government’s housing stock or as Paul has mentioned where some of these houses can be sold to their occupants,” Mr English says.


Getting the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement may seem a sign of acceptance by the establishment, but academic and writer Ranginui Walker is still firing the salvos that had him branded radical in the 1970s and 80s.

The 77-year-old from Te Whakatohea says he was just pointing out to Pakeha that grievances needed to be set right or New Zealand would end up with riots such as those which happened in America.

He says the Waitangi Tribunal, which he served on in recent years, had been a way the country addressed those grievances.

“It was George Bernard Shaw who said the real history of mankind is deplorable but there’s hope in bits of it and we are seeing the hope in bits of it now in our own time as our two people intermarry and forge our future together,” Professor Walker says.

He feels honoured to be measured alongside past recipients of the award like Dame Anne Salmond and the late Michael King.

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