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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recession bigger threat than charter axing

Television New Zealand's head of Maori programmes, Paora Maxwell, believes the recession is a greater threat to Maori content than axing the channel's public broadcasting charter.

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman has already moved the $15 million of charter funding into a contestible fund for minority interest programmes open to all broadcasters, and he's now introduced legislation to scrap the charter Labour introduced seven years ago.

TVNZ will only be asked to reflect Maori perspectives rather than have a "significant Maori voice".

Mr Maxwell says the bulk of TVNZ's income comes from advertising rather than government sources, and a dramatic drop in ad revenue means the pressure is on to cut costs by buying in international programmes.

“We love watching ourselves on TV. We know that. The top rating programmes are always local. But when it costs so much to make these programmes and you’re living in tough times, that model is always challenged,” Mr Maxwell says.


Northland's high Maori population is being cited as a reason the region has twice the rate of strokes as the national average.

Stroke Foundation regional manager Rex Paddy says up to 40 per cent of adults have high blood pressure, leading to what the foundation calls the silent killer.

He says the number of Maori having strokes is going up while the incidence among Pakeha has dropped, with living conditions and poverty being factors.

“The tendency is for diets to be poorer in areas where people have less money and where the living conditions aren’t as good you’ve often got less heating and poorer housing conditions. It’s by no means automatic that if you’re Maori your health is poorer, but if you’re Maori and poorer your health is probably poorer,” Mr Paddy says.

He says strokes are thinning the ranks of kaumatua and putting pressure on whanau, hapu and wider iwi groups.


The head of one the country's largest providers of help to the needy says many Maori will face a tough Christmas.

Trevor McGlinchey from the Council of Christian Social Services says with 100,000 Maori out of work, food banks and other social services are stretched to the limit trying to help with basics.

He says it will take a real community effort to put something special on the table for Christmas.

Trevor McGlinchey says this Christmas will be hardest for a number of years because of the recession.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says his caucus needs to do more to strengthen relations with the party's membersips.

The Tamaki Makaurau MP says the first full year in coalition with National has been challenging, with many members still disappointed by policy compromises and the failure to get Maori seats on the new Auckland super city council.

He says the pressure of work means the MPs can feel isolated.

“The incident with Hone has made us understand we don’t have good strong support from our party. The party’s there, they like what we’re doing, they’re behind us, but they need to be involved and not just leave it to the five of us in Parliament, so we do have our backs covered,” Dr Sharples says.

He says the MPs need to find a quicker way to get feedback from supporters on the issues that come up in Parliament.


The newest member of the Rotorua Lakes Trust is taking his new job seriously.

That may come as a surprise to listeners of Te Arawa iwi radio or viewers of Maori Television's Kai of the Road, who know Kingi Biddle for his comic side.

But Mr Biddle says he grew up next to Lake Rotorua and wants to protect it.

“I’m sure that what people don’t know except those that live in Ohinemutu is that I hold a number of serious positions. I’m the chairman of our kapa haka group. I lead the powhiri at Ohinemutu. I’m running education programmes for our iwi to help foster te reo within our own iwi,” he says.

The other new member of the trust is Te Ariki Morehu, who as the highest-polling unsuccessful candidate was brought in to replace the late Hawea Vercoe.


Maori art exhibitions and te reo classes are now part of life in Russell with the opening of the Kororareka Marae Society's new headquarters.

It's not the traditional marae the society was set up 20 years ago to build, but the former Department of Conservation visitors centre at the southern end of the township has given the community a boost.

Chairman Colwyn Shortland says language courses are being offered in conjunction with Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

“A good thing for our people in Russell because they’ve never really had that facility to do that and they’re grasping it. Not only our Maori people but also our tauiwi people. It’s a good mechanism for bringing people together I see,” Mr Shortland says.

To market the opening, the Kororareka Marae Society will hold an exhibition until the end of January called Te Timatanga: The Beginning, featuring artists including Clive Arlidge, Theresa Reihana, Dorothy Waetford and Catherine Schuster.


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