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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sovereignty group ousted from Waitangi marae

A Hokianga sovereignty group occupying the lower marae at Waitangi has been evicted by local hapu.

Te Tii Marae chairman Hohepa Waiomio says the group camped on the site for several weeks after being cleared by police from an occupation of a commercial building in Kaikohe ... and they indicated they intended to stay on until Waitangi Day.

Mr Waiomio says the hapu didn't want to involve police, so they took their own action yesterday afternoon.

“Ngati Kaua and Ngati Rahiri just went in and removed them from the whenua. We placed their gear and their tents all over the fence, making sure that our hapu as kaitiaki to the marae wasn't stepped on,” Mr Waiomio says.


Across the river, restoration has been completed on the waka taua Ngatokimatawhaorua, enabling it to head the fleet at next year's Waitangi Day regatta.

The new chair of the Waitangi National Trust, Pita Paraone, says the speedy completion is a tribute to the skills and dedication of master waka builder Hekenukumai Busby and his team.

The trust also fixed the leaks in the roof of the waka house below the treaty grounds.

“We also had the waka relashed because it celebrates its 70th birthday next year. That provides the introduction for some of the activities that will happen on Waitangi day,” Mr Paraone says.

The Waitangi National Trust also opened for use extensions to the treaty grounds' visitors centre, which will be formally opened by the Prime minister on the eve of Waitangi Day.


Still in the Bay of Islands, after 20 years of struggle, the Kororakea Marae Society finally has a home.

It's leased the former Department of Conservation visitor's centre at the south end of Russell's historic precinct, near the town's museum and Pompallier House.

Chairman Colwyn Shortland says while the building isn't suited to traditional marae use, it can be used for meetings, small conference, running courses, art exhibitions and a craft shop.

It can serve as a satellite venue for other marae in the Bay of Islands.

“We have purposely called ourselves a multiu-tribal society because I think everybody has that ability to whakapapa into Kororareka because of the nature of the area. It’s probably summed up by our whakatauki: Te au hononga tai, te au hononga iwi - The currents that bind tides, the currents that bind people,” Mr Shortland says.

The marae society still owns a block on the edge of the town it eventually wants to build a marae on.


Time is running out for Maori to invest in mobile phone company Two Degrees.

Mavis Mullins from Te Huarahi Tika Maori spectrum trust says despite several months of presentations, there have been no takers for the $12 million of shares on offer as the company seeks capital to fund the next stage of its network roll-out.

If the allocation is not taken up by the end of the month, the company's American and European shareholders will increase their investment and the Maori stake will fall from 20 to 12 and a half percent.

Mrs Mullins says it's disappointing after a decade of work by the trust to find partners who could commercialise the spectrum made available to Maori after court action by broadcasting claimants.

“We've been talking that we have access to capital, that we are investors in infrastructure, that we are this, we are that, but unfortunately whether it’s our fault that we are not presenting the case well enough or whether our people are just a little too scared of this asset class, we’re in or we’re out and the time has come,” Mrs Mullins says.

She says the trust has been unsuccessful in its requests to the Crown for help to buy the shares.


Embattled Auckland Museum director Vanda Vitali has won support from Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua.

The museum's board is reviewing the Canadian's performance after a string of controversies, including her treatment of the family of Sir Edmund Hillary and concern by veteran's groups over the role of the museum as a war memorial.

But the chair of the Ngati Whatua Runanga, Naida Glavish, says she's impressed by the job the director is doing looking after taonga Maori.

“People are criticising from a base of not themselves having seen it and from a basis of ignorance really. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. I was there with 18 kuia and kaumatua from around the country taken round the tour. Amazing work,” Ms Glavish says.

She says the director is being blamed for carrying out board directions on controversial issues.


Television New Zealand's general manager of Maori programmes, Paora Maxwell, is comfortable about the removal of the state broadcaster's charter.

A bill introduced by broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman will remove the requirement TVNZ have a "significant Maori voice" and instead asks it to include some local content and "reflect Maori perspectives".

Mr Maxwell says programmes like as Te Karere, Marae and Waka Huia are likely to continue uninterrupted, because they are funded by Te Mangai Paho and New Zealand on Air rather than out of charter funding.

“You know all of Maori programmes not only make great cultural sense but they also make commercial sense as well. They come to the broadcaster fully funded most of them. That’s a big tick in the box. I believe there’s a will to have Maori programmes remain at TVNZ,” Mr Maxwell says.


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