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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, January 25, 2010

Maori Party and Labour clash over Ratana rebuke

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the Labour Party is out of touch with its ally of 78 years, the Ratana Church.

Labour and Maori Party MPs were Ratana Pa yesterday to join the annual celebrations of the birth of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Mrs Turia says speakers were right to challenge Labour leader Phil Goff on whether the morehu or church members have benefited from their decades of loyal support.

“The families who I know around the country, morehu families, most of them continue to live in poverty today. Now I get tired of any politician, it doesn’t matter what party, going out to the pa to tell the people how much they’ve done for them when in reality in their daily lives there’s been no improvement at all,” Mrs Turia says.


But Labour MP Shane Jones says a Ratana kai korero over-stepped the mark by using the powhiri to score political points.

Kelly Pene spoke admiringly of Prime Minister John Key and criticised Labour's record on delivery to Maori and the movement.

Mr Jones says Mr Pene's speech had none of the style or class of an older generation of Ratana speakers, such as former Western Maori MP Koro Wetere or the late Paihere Brown.

“You treated the powhiri as an opportunity to receive your manuhiri, recite history, talk about the future etc, but it is not an opportunity for open season duck shooting. Well I ain’t no duck and I think it was a timely reminder that unless you are going to you are going maintain a certain quality of customary hospitality they you have to expect a fairly rancorous response,” Mr Jones says.

He says response to his speech from ordinary morehu on the marae was overwhelmingly positive.


Kohanga reo pioneer Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi is celebrating a United Nations report praising the Maori language early childhood network.

The Unesco report on education for indigenous people around the world said kohanga reo's ethos of self-help and commitment to continuity across generations has inspired young parents and demonstrated how revitalising language has educational and social benefits.

Dame Iritana says it's a boost for the families who started Kohanga Reo 28 years ago.

She says other indigenous peoples have embraced the kohanga system to revitalise their own languages.


Flaxmere residents have threatened to picket the construction site if a proposed Corrections Department facility in the Hawkes Bay town does ahead.

Hastings District councillor Henare O Keefe, who organised a protest at the site this morning, says more than 100 residents turned out to voice their disaproval at having a work centre in the village, which is one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in the country.

Mr O Keefe says today’s Mums and Dads protest sends a strong message to the Corrections Department.

He says they will fight it to the bitter end, even to lying down in front of bulldozers, and Corrections should find another site.


One of the country's largest trade unions says Maori need to pressure the government to up the minimum wage.

Robert Reid, the general secretary of the National Distribution Union, says Maori are over-represented in the poorest paid occupations, with many on the minimum wage of $12.50 an hour.

Unions want it raised to $15.

Mr Reid says the whole country will benefit.

“The government should see putting the minimum wage up as a key component not only a social justice issue on wages but also a key component of actually increasing spending from ordinary people and therefore increasing employment,” Mr Reid says.


There was a lot of old Maori wisdom involved in Saturday's surprise win by Vonusti to a win in the million dollar Telegraph Handicap at Trentham.

The five year old was trained by former Maori All Black Tim Carter and wife Margaret and ridden by veteran Noel Harris, regarded as the kaumatua of Maori jockeys.

Mr Carter, who has had only modest success as a trainer before Saturday's big race, was thrilled to have been part of a winning Maori double act.


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