Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 30, 2009

Housing costs driving up Maori child poverty

The high cost of housing is being blamed for a rise in child poverty, especially among Maori.

Susan St John from the Child Poverty Action Group says the Ministry of Social Development's report for the last year shows one in five children was living in a household under significant financial stress, with housing costs a major factor.

She says the trend is getting worse as the recession bites.

“Maori children are disproportionately represented in low income households and in particular household that are supported by a benefit We can conclude from that Maori children are falling under the poverty line to a greater extent than they were and we could be looking for further deterioration,” Dr St John says.

The government could mitigate the problem by including beneficiaries in the Working For Families scheme,


Labour Maori affairs spokesperson Parekura Horomia says Maori concerns about the tapu of body samples is outweighed by the need to give the police the tools they need to fight crime.

Labour joined with National and ACT in voting for a new law which will allow police to take DNA samples from suspects without a court order.

Mr Horomia says while many Maori will be concerned at the change, they also have an interest in seeing criminals caught.

“There's some realities about hard crime and incessant crime in our communities and that stuff needs to be sorted. This has been tried overseas and it’s tested reasonably well and I’m sure there are minuses and pluses to it but for my part I’m getting hoha about all the hard stuff people are getting away with,” Mr Horomia says.

The DNA sampling to be introduced over the next two years will revolutionise law enforcement.


Gay priests are on the agenda for Maori Anglicans gathered in Auckland for their biannual runanganui.

The Bishop of Te Waipounamu, John Gray, says Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa's Commission on Human Sexuality will report back on whether Maori consider same-sex orientation a barrier to ordination.

He says it's important Maori develop their own views on the issue which has divided the church.

“For tikanga Maori we’ve said we have to look at these issues and we’d like to approach these issues quite differently from how Pakeha diocese are doing it, so we work among our people and fund out exactly their response to this whole area of sexuality,” Bishop Gray says.

The runanganui will also consider the future of the Maori boarding schools affiliated to the church.


New Maori family advocates are being urged to learn from the tu tangata era of Maori community development.

The Kaitoko Whanau programme launched yesterday by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples will fund Maori service providers around the country to take on whanau advocates who will act as bridges between families under stress and government agencies.

Bill Kaua from Wellington-based Te Roopu Awhina, says it's similar to the sorts of community-led programmes which were developed in the Department of Maori Affairs in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

He says a special sort of person is needed to make it work.

“They've got to be people of mana. The thing is we ensured that kaumatua kuia were also involved. If we’re talking whanau concept then those who are the advocates, if that was me, I’d be making sure I set up a fairly good whanau around myself, kaumatua, kuia, people with particular expertise, and I think the koroua kuia aspect is very important,” Mr Kaua says.

He says the Kaitoko Whanau can change the way government agencies interact with Maori.


Greater Wellington Regional Council has a message for its northern counterpart - get Maori involved early.

Mayor Fran Wilde says rather than wait for central government to tell it what to do, the council has appointed representatives of the seven mana whenua iwi to a new committee which will set natural resource strategies for the next five years.

She says it didn't seek the permission of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

“We didn't need to. We’re able to make committees as we wish. We’ve had legal opinions on what we can and can’t do. We’ve followed hem. We have chosen to do it in our region because we think it’s the best model for our region,” Ms Wilde says.

She says the new plan is a cost effective way of replacing the existing suite of regional plans with a single, integrated plan for natural resources.


Maori are being called to join a protest in Auckland tonight in support of raising the minimum wage to $15.

Sue Bradford, who retired as a Green MP this week, says Maori are over-represented among those getting the minimum wage, which is currently $12.50 an hour.

She says it's in their interest to turn out in force at the march, which leaves Aotea Square at 7pm.

“There's a whole campaign run by the Unite union to get enough signatures on a petition to push the kaupapa, push the take, of busting the minimum wage because so many people are earning such low wages still,” Ms Bradford says.

She says the minimum wage is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to live in poverty.


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