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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vercoe quits “toothless taniwha” committee

A former member of Rotorua District Council's Te Arawa standing committee says his experience doesn't augur well for Maori representation on the Auckland super city.

Hawea Vercoe says he quit the committee because it was toothless taniwha.

He says it contrasts with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, where he was elected to one of the three Maori wards.

“Just the fact we have a vote means we are listened to, we are consulted fully right to the back room lobbying that goes on. There’s none of that respect of acknowledgement to members of an advisory committee because they don’t have to have their vote of support,” Mr Vercoe says.

Because only three of the nine members on the Te Arawa standing committee are elected by iwi with the rest chosen from or by council, it is not a true voice for the iwi.


A new Maori construction company hopes to provide jobs for young Maori entering the workforce.

Aotearoa Construction is headed by former rugby league players with whanau connections to the industry ... Tawera Nikau's in demolition, and Ritchie Barnett's in marae development.

Mr Nikau says they're talking with iwi about possible projects, and with two of the wananga about skills training.

He says it's the rangatahi who stand to benefit most.

“They go to kohanga reo. They didn’t go to kura kaupapa. Then they go to wananga but after that there’s no entry point into the workplace. There’s been a lot of initiatives over the part 12 to 18 months in terms of training people up but you can train people as much as you want but if they don’t have a job to go to, you’re setting them up for failure,” Mr Nikau says.

He says Aotearoa Construction would be the natural partner for iwi wanting to invest in infrastructure projects.


A trust is being set up to promote the legacy of the late Hone Tuwhare.

Son Rob Tuwhare says the trust's first project is to buy the Catlins crib where the Ngapuhi poet spent the last 15 years of life and turn it into a residence for young writers.

He says the idea is drawing support from the people of the south who embraced his father when he left his job as a boilermaker to take up a Burns fellowship at Otago University.

Rob Tuwhare says the poems brought together Maori and Pakeha.

“People who haven't read poetry and didn’t think they would like poetry, dad’s style is really easy to understand and a lot of it’s humorous, a lot of it is serious and political, a lot of it is relationships and this sort of work is easy to understand and I think for an introduction to poetry, Hone’s a good place to start really,” Mr Tuwhare says.

The trust want to translate Hone Tuwhare's work into Te Reo and make it more widely available to schools.


Maori spectrum claimants are shaping up for a showdown over the allocation or sale of frequencies freed up by the shift to digital television over the next few years.

The Maori Council and Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo Maori is calling together iwi and interested Maori groups for a two-day hui at Kokiri Marae in Petone next week.

Nga Kaiwhakapumau treasurer Piripi Walker says the formal consultation over the frequencies hasn't started yet, but the Crown needs reminding of the Waitangi Tribunal and High Court findings which led to the allocation of spectrum for iwi radio, Maori television and cell phone networks.

“The Crown has never accepted there could be an article two right where Maori should be regarded as the proprietors of an unsold resource. The Crown believes it came in the modern world into the right of proprietorship over these frequencies as modernisation occurs. It has the right to auction them off and sell them without recourse to Maori. Maori don't hold that view,” Mr Walker says.


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


A new publication aims to highlight the best in Maori in business and education.

He Kupu Wakataki, The Journal of Best Practice in Applied Maori Indigenous Vocational Education, is a collaboration between Tairawhiti Polytechnic, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Northland Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology.

Project manager Mereheeni Hooker says it's timely, given the current economic climate and the growing economic strength of Maori.

The annual journal will also cover the experiences of other indigenous peoples.


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