Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Race still source of complaint

Race discrimination remains the most common form of complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

The commission's 2009 report tables in parliament yesterday shows 40 percent of complaints and enquiries to the commission in the past year related to race.

Race relations commissioner Joris de Bres says that could be a sign of the tensions that arise as New Zealand attempts to build a multi-cultural society.

“We value the fact there’s more than one culture. That may lead to a bit of rubbing here and there. But overall now we are a country that not only has two founding cultures, at least for modern New Zealand, but now also has a variety of other cultures. That always has the potential to lead to tension, but it also has the potential to enrich society here,” Mr de Bres says.

Tensions between Maori and non-Maori are no longer a major source of complaints, and international students are the groups who most complain they are harrassed.


Maori spectrum claimants will be arguing for a larger share of any frequencies which become available because of the shift to digital television.

Piripi Walker from Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo Maori, which with the Maori Council led the broadcasting and spectrum claims, says the imminent reassignment of large blocks of spectrum raises a large set of treaty issues.

He says the Crown may need to be reminded of the strong findings the Waitangi Tribunal made back in 1990 in its Radio Frequencies Allocation report.

“When there is any question mark over a resource or its alienation or matters of scarcity, the tribunal said that iwi have a prior interest over all other users by virtue of the treaty. It’s a pretty powerful perception of access and rights to use and development and rights to opportunity,” Mr Walker says.

Maori groups with interests in the spectrum issue have been called to a two day hui in Wellington next week.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei is warning a free trade agreement with Malaysia holds dangers for Maori.

She says while the agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur on Monday will be good for exporters, it could devastate the manufacturing sector where many Maori are employed.

“The agreements always raise issue for us because they risk New Zealand jobs. In a recession, particularly for Maori who suffer the effects of the recession more because of the nature of our employment, that’s the key issue for Maori to be aware that these agreements can damage our economy in terms of employment,” Ms Turei says.

She says Malaysia's record on human rights and environmental abuse isn't good, and the agreement may be done on the backs of poorly paid indigenous workers.


A Maori business leader is calling on the government to sell its housing stock to low income families and use the proceeds to build new houses.

Paul Morgan, the chair of Nelson's Whakatu Incorporation, says Housing New Zealand owns 70 thousand homes.

He says it's the right time for a targeted programme to turn those houses over.

“From those transactions use the capital to reinvest in building new housing stock because clearly in the past 12 months we’ve had a drop in home starts and dwellings being built and I would imagine in the next 12 to 24 months we will see a shortage emerge again because we have had a net growth in population,” Mr Morgan says.

He says Housing New Zealand has been failing in its social obligation to build new housing, so it has been of little use to the construction industry where many Maori were employed before the recession.


A Maori academic says the privatisation of accident compensation create opportunity for Maori providers.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and ethnic studies at Canterbury Univeristy, says ACC system is not serving Maori well.

He says the corporation's own figures show Maori are 40 percent more likely than Pakeha to suffer injury from an accidents, yet they are the last to get treated and the most likely to have treatment terminated early.

He says opening the system to competition may be a good thing.

“There might be opportunity to discuss how this might work for the Maori people. I mean we only have to look at the reforms in the health system and also the education system to see that where Maori providers came in, it turned things round in a way that’s significant enough to say we should look at this one,” Mr Taonui says.

Maori providers would be well suited to working in injury prevention.


The All Whites aren't so all white these days.

Almost half the Young All Whites football team competing at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup competition in Nigeria are of Maori or Pacific Island descent.

New Zealand Football communications manager Jamie Scott says young Maori are being attracted away from rugby and league to a sport which offers international opportunities.

He says top level players can make a good living in the United States or Europe, and there are scholarships and academy places available for talented youngsters.

Maori players who shone in the team's 1-all draw with Costa Rica on Monday included midfielder Zane Sole, goalkeeper Coey Turipa and flanker Thomas Spragg.

At 4am tomorrow New Zealand time the team runs plays Burkina Faso.


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