Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

EMS won’t last change of government

Phil Goff is promising a future Labour government will repeal National's emissions trading scheme.

The Labour leader says the changes, which are expected to be pushed through this week, will be bad for Maori and Pakeha alike.

Despite expressing grave concerns about the overall scheme in its minority select committee report, the Maori Party will vote for the bill because of concessions including a top-up of five treaty settlements done by National in the 1990s.

Mr Goff says history shows rushed legislation leads to higher costs for the country.

“This legislation is not sustainable. This legislation will be changed with the change of government. And that’s a real pity because it would have been preferable to have had certainty, to have sought a fair degree of consensus. Labour offered that, and the National Party broke off negotiations in bad faith to reach a deal that gives it a majority of only two in the House. That's not sustainable,” Mr Goff says.

He says the five iwi who stand to benefit from the deal will do so at the expense of ordinary Maori.


Meanwhile, Green co-leader Metiria Turei says Maori are being used as a wedge to open up publicly-owned conservation land to overseas companies.

Under the deal the Maori Party struck with National in exchange for supporting changes to the emissions trading scheme, five iwi will be able to plant trees on conservation land to offset forests cleared from land they received in their treaty settlements.

Ms Turei says those iwi will inevitably enter into partnerships with foreign companies that will be the real winners.

“The deal that the government is doing to allow other private interests to do this planting and to reap the benefits is another way of sucking money out of the public because this could be a public investment, jobs for New Zealanders and the public purse gaining the advantage of the carbon credits which could then be used to help pay for some of the social services that especially the poorest communities so desperately need,” Ms Turei says.

In the past the Crown has refused to include conservation land in treaty settlements.


A Muriwhenua kaumatua says the Government is making an historical error in its choice of a Maori flag.

The prime minister has indicated he's about to take the Maori Party's recommendation to Cabinet, and the flag will be flow next Waitangi Day on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, at Waitangi and on other government buildings.

The choice is widely expected to be the tino rangatiratanga flag designed for competition run in 1990 by Hone Harawira's Kawariki protest group.

‘But Rima Edwards says the flag chosen in the 1830s by the Confederation of United Tribes is the right symbol.

“1835 is important because it’s a declaration to the world that the mana motuhake of this land belongs to the rangatira of the hapu, that’s the significance of that flag,” Mr Edwards says.


National's changes to the emissions trading scheme are being described as a return to Muldoonism.

Labour MP Shane Jones says the controversy over concessions given for Maori Party support for the bill is overshadowing the economic backwardness of the approach.

He says rather than using economic signals to encourage New Zealand firms to invest in technology and innovation which would reduce their carbon footprint, National is dipping into the playbook of the late Sir Robert Muldoon.

“Muldoon used to have a system where you could grow as much milk and wool as you liked, he would guarantee you a set of payments and in many respects the taxpayer is now guaranteeing payments to industry to create in the same way they have always been doing which whilst it is good for wealth creation for that sector it’s bad if the taxpayers have to subsidise it all,” Mr Jones says.

He says the main beneficiaries of National's changes will be farmer and other big carbon emitters, rather than Maori.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the flying of a Maori flag is unimportant alongside the real issues facing the country.

Prime Minister John Key has promised the will be flown widely from government buildings around the country next Waitangi Day.

A recommendation from Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples on the preferred flag is ready to go to Cabinet for ratification.

Mr Goff says it seems inevitable the tino rangatiratanga flag will be chosen, but it's an empty gesture for many Maori.

“Flying a flag isn’t compensation for the fact you’ve lost your job, that your real income has gone down, that Maori unemployment has doubled, that families are struggling to make ends meet,” Mr Goff says.

Any excitement over the flag will be short lived.


A student leader says dropping student representatives on polytech councils is a threat to Maori education.

An amendment to the Education Act now before Parliament will trim the number of council members and get rid of guaranteed seats for students, staff and unions.

Rawa Karetai, the president of the Albany Massey Students Association, says the bill gives the education minister direct political control of tertiary institutions.

He says Maori students don't receive the support they need now, and the bill will make things worse.

“Maori students comprise a large number of students in the polytechnic sector and without student representation their voices would be lost in the decision-making processes,” Mr Karetai says.


One of the country's most famous hotels is switching from haurangai to hauora.

Te Korowai Hauora, the health arm of the Hauraki Maori Trust Board, is turning the Brian Boru in Thames into a health centre.

General manger Whiu Kininmonth says the 1868 building will be a useful addition for the organisation, which has more than 5000 clients registered and clinics right around the Coromandel peninsula.

As well as health services, the Brian Boru will house an arts centre and a wananga.


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