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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, December 11, 2009

Waitangi occupiers given ultimatum

A group which has been camping out at the lower Waitangi marae for five weeks have been given until Sunday to leave.

It includes members of the Hokianga-based Nga Uri o Tupoto sovereignty group from the Hokianga area which occupied a commercial building in Kaikohe until evicted by police in August.

Leader Tas Davis says the 20-strong group is there by right of the 1835 declaration of independence, and it won't leave until Waitangi Day on February 6.

But marae chair Kingi Taurua says Waitangi's Ngati Rahiri hapu has had enough.

“No tribe or person or subtribe is permitted to go and occupy another subtribe’s land and that is war because if you look at the Treaty of Waitangi, it talks about hapu, subtribes, having their own authority over themselves,” Mr Taurua says.

If the occupiers are not out by Sunday Ngati Rahiri will remove them by force if necessary ... but police won't be called in.

WATER SUMMIT A SUCCESS WITH UNITY KAUPAPA

One of the iwi leaders behind yesterday's national summit on water says it provided a sound basis to push for Maori ownership of water.

Mark Solomon from Ngai Tahu says iwi were keen to take a united approach to the Government's New Start to Freshwater initiative, which is looking at issues around water quality, allocation and demand as well as future governance arrangements.

He says like many iwi, Ngai Tahu is concerned at growing pressure on the resource.

“There are areas that are over-allocated for water. One of the major concerns for Ngai Tahu is about at least guaranteeing the in-stream flow ratios or guaranteeing the ecology of the whole catchment and in some areas that’s not happening. In some areas there’s water consent below what’s considered the minimum flow regimes,” Mr Solomon says.

He says there needs to be certainty around water management.

TIME RUNNING OUT TO BUY MOBILE PHONE SHARES

Meanwhile, iwi at yesterdays' national water hui were told time is running out to buy shares in mobile phone company Two Degrees.

Te Huarahi Tika chair Mavis Mullins told the hui the spectrum trust's American and European partners will take up the share if iwi don't, diluting the Maori interest down to 12 and a half percent.

She says Te Huarahi Tika and its commercial arm Hautaki have done the hard yards over the past decade lobbying regulators and laying the ground for investment in a third mobile operator.

“We've found the shareholders, we’ve found the investment, the last couple of years there’s been more than $200 million dollars invested into New Zealand’s infrastructure, we’ve created over 250 new jobs, all in a global recession. This thing is so derisked that it is time, Maori need to step up, we need to maintain that 20 percent because spectrum is the farm of the future for our kids, this is the primary asset for the future,” Mrs Mullins says.

Many Maori organisations feel more comfortable investing in forests or farms than phone companies, but they will never get another chance to buy the shares at such a low price.

NGATI MANAWA SETTLING HISTORIC CLAIMS

A new chapter opens for Bay of Plenty iwi Ngati Manawa as it settles its historical treaty claims.

Chairman Bill Bird says up to 500 people are expected at Murupara for tomorrow's signing, where the Crown will be represented by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

He says the cultural redress package includes sites of significance in and around the Kaingaroa Forest and te Urewera National Park, and comes on top of the commercial redress which was part of the eight-iwi Central North Island forestry settlement.

Mr Bird says Ngati Manawa lost its land through confiscation during the land wars of the 1860s, through later actions by the Native Land Court, and throughout the 20th century through local government takings under the Public Works Act.

“So we've got an opportunity to stop that and all we’re saying is any development in our area, we want to be part of the decision-making, not just lip service, you go to see a kaumatua and say we’ve got that iwi’s approval, those days are gone,” Mr Bird says.

PRESSURE ON FOR WATER OWNERSHIP

Iwi leaders are determined to keep pushing for ownership of water.

A national hui in Wellington yesterday heard from the consultative group which is attempting to include a Maori perspective into the Government's New Start to Freshwater policy process.

Rotorua lawyer Willie Te Aho says while iwi in different parts of the country have different priorities, they are united on asserting their treaty right to the resource.

“There was a perspective from iwi that the water is owned by iwi and you just need to look at the Te Arawa and Taupo Tuwharetoa examples of, if you’ve got the ownership of the bed of a lake and it’s akin to a cup, the water that drops into that cup surely belongs to you, but that is not the current reality,” Mr Te Aho says.

Iwi are interested in the co-management regimes emerging over the Waikato and other rivers through the treaty settlement process.

REALITY SHOW PRODUCER HOPES FORMAT A WINNER

The producer of a six-part Maori-language reality show hopes overseas broadcasters will pick up the format.

Former TV3 producer Bailey Mackey also wrote and financed One Land, which screens on TVNZ this Sunday night.

It takes three families and puts in them in conditions from the 1850s, with a European family, a Maori-speaking family, and a Maori family living in a Pakeha setting.

Mr Mackey says it could have international appeal, even with 20 to 25 percent Te Reo content.

“One of the other interesting aspects would be round the sale of the format which will include the whole language element which I think other countries will look to pick up as well. There are countries where an indigenous language has been overtaken by different forms of colonization,” Mr Mackey says.

The format industry is worth $22 billion worldwide.

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