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Monday, November 09, 2009

Foreshore repeal test of National change

An historian whose been caught up in the foreshore debate says repealing the Foreshore and Seabed Act would be a sign the National Party is finally turning its back on the divisive politics of Muldoonism.

John Mitchell of Ngati Tama was part of the group of top of the South Island iwi whose attempts to confirm their customary rights in the coastal area kicked off the crisis.

He says Prime Minister John Key’s conciliatory style has opened the way for progress and is in sharp contrast to his predecessors, especially the late Sir Robert Muldoon.

"He really divided this country. He brought out a strand of nastiness that’s not far below the thoughts of all of us I guess. Brash was just the latest manifestation of that and I think what we have now is a will on behalf of the country to move away from that, to become more unified and I think John Key is trying hard to reflect that,” Dr Mitchell says.

The iwi leaders’ forum has called a national hui in Rotorua tomorrow on what should replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act, with regional hui to follow.


Meanwhile, one of the country's leading aquaculturalists says marine farming reforms will create much need jobs in rural areas.

Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley last week told an industry conference the government would open up more areas to aquaculture and bring in other reforms recommended by a technical advisory group.

Harry Mikaere from Hauraki says a moratorium on new licenses and uncertainty about the recognition of Maori rights have stalled development for a decade.

He says the reforms should allow iwi to take up the 20 percent of marine farming area they were promised, creating opportunities for their communities.

“It’s incumbent on us to bring, in a very hard recession like this one, some enjoyment to those we can actually meet. The sooner we can go through a regime of this Aquaculture TAG report being implemented, the sooner we can start developing these industries that will take care of some of the unemployment,” Mr Mikaere says.

His runanga's Coromandel-based operation employs around 120 workers, and that number can now grow.


Associate Education minister Pita Sharples has agreed to set up an area school in Te Karaka because of what he says was the strong desire of the East Coast community to keep education facilities in the area.

Waikohu College and Te Karaka Primary School will close at the end of next year to make way for the new school.

Dr Sharples says the alternative was busing children to Gisborne.

He says it’s the outcome the predominantly Te Aitanga a Mahaaki community was seeking.

“I was so overwhelmed by the community wanting to keep a whole education programme in their community and wanting a very good one so I made the decision to close their two schools the primary school and the college, and reopen an area school from years one to 13,” Dr Sharples says.

Existing teachers will have to apply for positions in the new area school.


The Council of Trade unions says the government should create special programmes for areas of high Maori unemployment.

The latest household labour force survey shows number of Maori out of work jumped over the past year from 9.6 percent to 14.2 percent, compared with a Pakeha unemployment rise from 3.1 to 4.1 percent.

CTU secretary Peter Conway says there are simple things the government can do to target assistance to out of work Maori and to areas of high Maori unemployment such as Northland and the East Coast.

“Targeting your community programmes and your youth opportunities to make sure that where there is a large concentration of Maori workers who are unemployed, and making sure things like the Skills Investment Fund which means there is a subsidy available to help with training to help people into a new job, that that is targeted as well to people in most need,” Mr Conway says.

The high Maori rate is affected by the relative youth of the Maori population and by the effect of the recession on sectors like manufacturing and construction.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples hopes a national hui tomorrow will be the start of an iwi-driven rewrite of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The hui in Rotorua has been called by the Iwi Leaders’ Forum, which includes major coastal iwi such as Ngai Tahu, Kahungunu and Ngapuhi.

Dr Sharples says now Prime Minister John Key has indicated the Government is willing to agree to the Maori Party’s demand the Act be repealed, it’s important to find an alternative acceptable to iwi and hapu.

“This is a thing that affects Maori, not the Maori Party. The Maori Party was really the front line that took it in. Now it’s for Maridom to come forward with what they think should be appropriate to replace that act that divided us so badly. So I’ve very pleased our iwi are involved,” Dr Sharples says.

He also expects contributions from academics and hapu from all around the country.


The Taupo district council expects to know today whether 40 large bones unearthed during earthworks for the town’s new east arterial highway come from moa.

Infrastructure manager Ted Anderson says archaeologists will examine the bones, which appear to have come from two large and one small moa and could be between two and three thousand year old.

He says the council intended to send the bones to Auckland University for examination and storage, but after consultation with Ngati Tuwharetoa it decided to keep them in the area.

He says the bones have been vacuum packed and put in a cold, secure place until a decision is made on how to deal with them.

Mr Anderson says if they are moa bones, the iwi will decide whether they should be reburied or go on museum display.


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