Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, November 02, 2009

Emissions scheme could push poor into fuel poverty

Public health specialists are warning planned changes to New Zealand's emissions trading scheme will sabotage the economy and siphon money from health services Maori need.

Jamie Hosking, the lead author of an editorial in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal, says the legislation could increase emissions and saddle the taxpayer with huge bills.

Dr Hosking says subsidies will go to big polluters rather than to mitigate the effects of climate change policies on the most vulnerable in society.

“This emissions trading scheme needs to provide funding to avoid more people being pushed into fuel poverty and food insecurity. These are risks for low income families and we think that makes Maori particularly at risk here and that could be bad for Maori health,” he says.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is predicting widespread opposition to a new law allowing police to take DNA samples from people they haven’t arrested.

The Maori Party and the Greens were the only parties to vote against the change, with the disproportionate rate young Maori are stopped and arrested by police being one of the reasons cited.

The Maori Affairs Minister says it conflict with Maori customs and beliefs about taking body parts and organs.

He says a high bar should be set for such intrusions.

“If someone is really charged and there is good evidence against them there may be a case for that but just picking people up and DNAing them which is what will happen, DNA straight away, is over the top and I think there will be widespread opposition to that, and it could well spread beyond Maori,” Dr Sharples says.


A Golden Bay representative of the Tasman District Council says Ngati Tama should have the final word on what happens to an urupa underneath a heavily used coastal road.

About 70 bodies are believed to be in the ancient cemetery, which the Office of Treaty Settlements says should either be removed or a bypass put in.

Councilor Noel Riley says while a solution could cost in more than $400,000, it’s not a question of money, and anyone would be upset if a road was built over their ancestors.

He says it’s important to maintain good relations between Ngati Tama and Golden Bay Pakeha.


Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is giving a whole new meaning to the term nanny state.

The previous Labour-led government was accused of nanny statism for policies such as stopping junk food being sold in school tuckshops or stopping children being assaulted by their parents.

Now Dr Sharples intends to pilot a project where Maori services providers will literally hire nannas to serve as front line social workers.

“I’m going to put a number of elders into a car, kuia, and let them go round, and where there are people having babies, visit them and look at the difficulties they are having and champion the good things that are happening and really put a safety net around them. In doing so they will obviously come into contact with other needs and this will spread to the community organisations who are supporting them, to come and intervene,” Dr Sharples.

It’s all part of a wider shift to whanau ora policies which address the health of the whole family.


Palmerston North's district health board wants to dispel a widespread belief among Maori that cancer inevitably leads to death.

Clinical cancer director Simon Allen says MidCentral Health’s four new Maori cancer coordinators will try to stop that belief becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.

He says Maori get cancer at about the same rate as other ethnic groups, but they are almost twice as likely to die from the disease because they don't seek treatment early enough or continue with treatment.

“If we get the relationships right, the flow of people through a system the understanding, the communication and the acceptance of what we do, we will be doing that well, so if we can achieve that for Maori, it will be a huge difference to Maori outcomes when they develop cancer,” Dr Allen says.

Improvements in treatments mean 65 percent of people diagnosed with the five most common cancers will still be alive in five years.


Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell wants councils to get tough on farmers pouring effluent into the Rotorua lakes.

An Environment Bay of Plenty audit found effluent run-off into Rotorua lakes is at its highest level in six years.

Half the farms in the catchment had serious compliance issues.

Mr Flavell, who is also a member of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, says it’s just not good enough.

“If all the efforts that are being put in on one hand are being deteriorated by lack of effort on the part of the farming community at least then we’ve got some serious problems. It means we’ve got to get around the table, start talking, and get pretty serious or else the various councils, the local bodies involved with the need to take a harder line against the farming community if we are actually going move toward getting our lakes back to their pristine condition,” Mr Flavell says.

He says the farmers are a threat to tourism and the Rotorua economy as well as the environment.

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