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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sharples ready for flak on rugby rights

The Minister of Maori Affairs says he always expected to cop flak over his backing for Maori Television's for the 2011 Rugby World Cup's free-to-air broadcast rights.

The millions of dollars needed would come out of Te Puni Kokiri's Maori development budget and does not need Cabinet approval.

Pita Sharples says the best way for Maori Television to fight the perception it is a second class service is by innovative programming such as its Anzac Day broadcasts and its sports cover.

“I'm really in favour of Maori Television growing because it will give us a chance, if we get in on that bid, to show Maori talents. It will give us a chance to show Maori businesses and our products. Our language will be right up there. It can be in two languages. I just think there’s every advantage in Maori Television taking that up,” Dr Sharples says

Te Puni Kokiri has a responsibility to support Maori language and culture, and support for Maori Television is part of that.


The head of the Auckland Tobacco Research Centre says Maori are blamed for their high rates of smoking while outside influences escape criticism.

Marewa Glover says the inquiry into the tobacco industry to be held by the Maori affairs select committee next year should bring some long overdue scrutiny to unscrupulous industry practices.

She says for generations Maori have been manipulated by those who profit from tobacco sales, including government.

“It’s just such a great Maori-bashing football this one for all the racists out there to use against us but if you know the inside story you know how little dedicated funding has gone that has gone to develop Maori-specific programmes that will actually work for Maori,” Dr Glover says

She says average New Zealanders continue to invest in tobacco companies.


The captain of the national ki-o-rahi side is in Europe negotiating rules for next year's first ever international tour of the traditional Maori ball game.

The game, which is played on a circular field by teams of up to 50 members, was taken to Europe by the Maori Battalion during World War II.

Coach Harko Brown says up to now teams have agreed on the rules before kick off under a process called tatu.

“We’re just trying to standardize the rules so when we go to Britain it will be the same as France and Germany and Holland. But there’s always that process of tatu. No country has to say they have to go along with standardization. They can say ‘we want to play our rules,” Mr Brown says.

Many schools are now fielding ki o rahi of teams for either the tackling or touch versions of the game.


Maori organisations have been given extra time to invest in new mobile phone company Two Degrees.

The company has been raising extra capital from shareholders to fund its rollout, which includes a process to allow the Maori shareholding to remain at 20 percent.

Chairman Bill Osborne says the Maori shares are currently held by Hautaki limited, the commercial arm of the Maori radio spectrum trust Te Huarahi Tika, and two central North Island land trusts, Tuaropaki and Pouakani.

He says other trusts and iwi have been cautious about investing in a type of asset they are unfamiliar with, but the United States and European shareholders are giving them more time to do due diligence.

“If Maori don’t invest the money the other shareholders will so we have already got that commitment. What they are doing is giving us more time to keep our proportional share of the business up. We’re very grateful for that opportunity,” Mr Osborne says.

Hautaki and Te Huarahi Tika Trust are considering changes to their structure to make it more attractive for other Maori investors to come on board.


While Maori Television is preparing to spend millions of dollars on broadcast rights for the 2011 rugby world cup, a rugby historian says little is being done to mark next year's centenary of Maori rugby.

Malcolm Mulholland, the author of Maori rugby history Beneath the Maori Moon, says the window is closing for the NZRFU to line up the talent for a suitable celebration.

“We know that Ireland and Wales are coming next year so you would think NZRFU would be talking to them. The longer they leave it, the less likely t is that NZ Maori are going to be playing some top level opposition, and that saddens me,” Mr Mulholland says.

Meanwhile, Maori Affairs Minister is defending his support for the Maori Television bid as in line with Te Puni Kokiri's mandate to promote Maori language and culture.


A leading Maori policeman says lack of funds is preventing development of an iwi strategy to fight Maori crime in Auckland.

Wally Haumaha, the national manager of Maori, Pacific and ethnic services, says iwi want to get involved in crime prevention.

He says Auckland University's James Henare research centre has been on stand-by for two years to write a strategy that would identify whakapapa patterns among offenders and set up support systems to discourage criminal activity.

“The difficulty that we face is the funding and the resourcing. Talks we are having at the ministerial level, it’s talks that we have had with different government departments but I think at the end of the day we are going to have to rely on our own people, on iwi, being the drivers of this programme in getting it off the ground,” Mr Haumaha says.

Statistics out last week show a slight drop in the level of overall crime in Auckland, with the district's crime resolution rate remaining steady on 39 per cent.


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