Waatea News Update

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Key pleased at Ratana reception

Prime Minister John Key is counting the year's first major hui as a win for National and its partner the Maori Party.

Mr Key says the effusive praise he heard for his government at Ratana Pa over the weekend was a welcome endorsement of the coalition's Maori initiatives.

He says it was a clear sign that the long historical relationship between Labour and Ratana is in trouble.

“My sense is that is not anywhere near as strong as it used to be that tie is fairly severely broken. I think you’d say the majority of that support has gone over to the Maori Party,” Mr Key says.


An emerging Ratana leader says the morehu or church members are sick of being taken for granted by Labour.

Ruia Aperahama says the relationship began in the 1930s when Labour was desperate for votes from Ratana members.

But he says Labour failed to keep its side of the bargain by helping Ratana with serious social and economic issues, and now many members are switching allegiances after staying silent for decades.

“You will find that there are a lot of Ratanas who because of this history have had enough of the compromise. They don’t want to be taken for granted any more. They put their sway behind the Maori Party,” Mr Aperahama says.

He says Labour is good at developing Maori policies but lacks the courage to follow through.


Meanwhile, John Key's next major hui may not go so smoothly.

Immigration consultant Tuariki John Delamere says the Prime minister can expect a protest at Waitangi against the deportation of the parents of Maori children.

Mr Delamere, an immigration minister in the 1996 National - New Zealand First coalition, is acting for six families whose fathers have been kicked out of New Zealand as overstayers.

He says the families intend to confront the Mr Key on Te Tii Marae, and emotions may run high.

“They're Maori children, from Whakatohea, Tainui, Te Whanau Apanui, Ngapuhi, and they’re entitled to live in this country because they are tangata whenua and they are citizens and the treaty says they have the right to grow up with their whanau. Well, their whanau includes their father,” Mr Delamere says.

He would like other families in the same situation to join the protest, even if they are not Maori.


Waka are arriving Te Pewhairangi, the Bay of Islands, for the largest gathering of traditional canoes since 1990.

They include Mataatua Puhi, the first waka built by Hekenukumai Busby, Te Toi o Mataatua from Whakatane, the voyaging waka Te Aurere and a waka which will have an all-female crew.

Mr Busby has spent the past few months restoring two Northland waka, Ngatoki matawhaorua, which were commissioned by Princess Te Puea for New Zealand's centenary.

“They celebrated the 1940 commemorations together and this will be the first year, 70 years after, they will actually be on the water together,” Mr Busby says.

More than 300 kai hoe or paddlers have been attending weekend wananga in Auckland, Whakatane and the Bay of islands to fine tuning their paddling skills and learn waiata, karakia and haka appropriate to waka.


The Prime Minister says rolling out Tariana Turia's whanau ora family support programme will be one of his government's top priorities for the year.

The scheme will put Maori providers between government agencies and families in need.

John Key says shifting funding from Wellington-based government agencies to social service providers in the community makes sense.

“There no particular reason why Waipareira Trust for instance can’t take responsibility for 200 or 300 families or more, go there and say we will look after all your needs, we’ll work with you. You’ve got some responsibilities but you have too, let’s work our way through it,” Mr Key says.

The principles behind whanau ora could be applied to other groups receiving government services.


The head of arts organisation Toi Maori says the blockbuster Avatar has lessons for Aotearoa.

The James Cameron movie, which includes special effects by Wellington's Weta Workshop and an invented language based on Maori, tells the story of an indigenous race fighting off a ruthless mining corporation.

Garry Nicholas says it's a story indigenous peoples can relate to, and it should serve as a warning to the government over its plans to open national parks up to mining.

“What we saw in Avatar is no different to what’s happened to a number of indigenous people’s throughout the world and the work that is being done now internationally to try and protect those sacred areas, those special areas of uniqueness, I applaud that effort,” Mr Nicholas says.

He says iwi will join with conservation groups to block mining plans.

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