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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, December 07, 2009

Dial a powhiri off the hook

Civic powhiri could be off the agenda for the Auckland super city.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei trust board member Ngarimu Blair says if mana whenua can't take part in making decisions about the future of where they live, they have no stake in welcoming people to the city.

He says the hapu has been patient with city leaders over the past couple of decades, but it's not prepared to have a merely ceremonial role.

“We've done hundreds if not thousands of powhiri and karakia and welcoming dignitaries and so on in this city and I think that’s something else we are going to have to question, whether we are going to continue to do that, continue to be at their beck and call,” Mr Blair says.

TREATY COMMITMENT POINT OF PRIDE FOR GREENS

The Green Party is citing its commitment of the Treaty of Waitangi as one of the highlights of its first decade in parliament.

Co-leader Russell Norman says it's 10 years today since Jeanette Fitzsimons won the Coromandel seat on special votes and brought the party into parliament in its own right.

He says whole it shares principles of sustainability, democracy, peace and fairness with other parties in the international Green movement, the principle of respect for the Treaty makes it unique.

“We're a Green party which has to come to terms with the fact there was a colonizing experience here, it had a dramatic impact on the first peoples and we need to make sure that any policies, whether they’re to do with social policies or environmental policies, actually accommodate that and respect the treaty,” Dr Norman says.

He says in the past decade the Greens have won ground on issues like climate change and sustainable development.

MAORI ALL BLACKS LOOKNG FOR TOP EUROPEAN OPPONENTS

The New Zealand Maori rugby team could get a crack at both England and Wales next year.

Commentator Ken Laban says that's the itinerary emerging to mark 100 years of Maori rugby.

The New Zealand Rugby Football Union has been under fire for its lack of support for Maori rugby, but Mr Laban says he's heard from the top that progress is being made on lining up European opponents.

Ken Laban says with the All Blacks already having a packed international agenda, there's plenty of scope for the Maori team to increase its playing commitments.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT FIGHT GOES BACK TO TREATY SIGNATORIES

Auckland mana whenua groups say they don't want to settle for anything less than they're getting already from local government.

The groups are fighting back against plans to corral them into a Maori statutory advisory body, rather than allow Maori seats on the Auckland super city council.

Tracy Davis from the South Kaipara takiwa of Ngati Whatua says his group has developed a constructive relationship with Rodney District Council which includes monthly meetings with the mayor and councilors where governance level decisions are made.

He says it's taken years to reach that point, and the iwi doesn't want to go back to a mere advisory role or worse.

“Every generation we get more and more. That’s what the fight’s about. From the days my tupuna Te Reweti and Apihai Te Kawau signed the treaty, they’ve been arguing for these rights since then, 1840, and it continues and I don’t think it will stop today. It will continue until it happens,” Mr Davis says.

He says Local Government Minister Rodney Hide is only in the job for three years, while the iwi will be there forever.

RESO STRUGGLE FOR SUSTENANCE OVER DITCH

A researcher into Maori migration says Maori moving to Australia will struggle to sustain their reo.

Paul Hamer from Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies says at the 1986 census about 15 percent of the 26 thousand Maori in Australia spoke the language in their homes.

While the number of Maori across the ditch has tripled since then, the percentage of speakers has halved.

“Now we've got 6500 Maori speakers in the home and 93,000 Maori officially so that’s more like 7 percent so while the numbers are going up there there’s also a shift away from Maori language use in Australia which is what you‘d expect. It would be a surprise for Maori language use to be growing in Australia given the separation from New Zealand,” Mr Hamer says.

It's not possible to tell from the Australian census questions how often or how well te reo is used by Maori in Australia.

AUCTION BUY MAJOR COUP FOR NORTHERN MAORI COLLECTION

Whangarei Art Museum's plan for a survey show of early Maori contemporary artists has been boosted by the discovery of an important work by the late Pauline Kahurangi Yearbury.

Museum director Scott Pothan says the painting, Hatupu and the Bird Woman, was featured in a ground-breaking exhibition of Maori art at Canterbury Museum in 1966.

It turned up at auction last month.

Mr Pothan says Yearbury, who died in 1977, and Katerina Mataira were the first Maori women to study modern art at Auckland's Elam School of Art.

They both became art tutors in Northland in the experimental Northern Maori Project developed by educationalist Gordon Tovey, alongside artists like Ralph Hotere, Arnold Wilson, Selwyn Wilson and Selwyn Muru.

“You could argue that the whole of contemporary Maori art really devolved from that period in the 1950s with a quite small group of artists who were really the first to step into the Pakeha realm and study modernist art and then develop their own voice from that,” Mr Pothan says.

The Whangarei Museum hopes to show its collection of northern Maori artists towards the end of 2010.

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