Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Minimum wage rise sets Government at odds

The Maori Party is on a collision course with National over the minimum wage.

Co-leader Tariana Turia is disappointed at the government's decision to raise the minimum hourly wage by only 25 cents to $12.75.

The Maori party has been pushing for $15.

“Obviously the people who make these decisions don’t give any consideration for the working poor and we‘re very disappointed because we believe that many of the social ills that we confront today can be sheeted immediately back to low income,” Mrs Turia says.

She says the low wages earned by a disproportionate number of Maori lead to lower educational, health and social performance.

CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW SHOULD SHINE LIGHT ON LOCAL GOVT

The Race Relations commissioner, Joris de Bres, expects this year's constitutional review to give Maori another chance to raise representation on the Auckland super city council.

In the Human Right's Commission's annual review of the Treaty of Waitangi, Mr de Bres noted the way the Government sidestepped the select committee subcommittee which was supposed to report on the issue.

He says issues of representation won't go away, and the constitutional review offers an opportunity to strengthen human rights protections in New Zealand, including the rights of Indigenous peoples.

“It isn't specifically about local government but I think if principles emerge from that perhaps they can also be applied to other areas like local government,” Mr de Bres says.

There was positive progress on Treaty of Waitangi issues last year, and greater public understanding of those issues.

FITZSIMIONS SUPPORTIVE OF GREEN TREATY PATH

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says Jeanette Fitzsimons was a true ally of Maori during her time in politics.

Ms Fitzsimons has announced she's quitting Parliament after 13 years as an MP.

Ms Turei says her predecessor brought issues such as genetic engineering, climate change, water quality and social justice to the political mainstream, but her legacy could be the way she brought together Green and treaty issues.

“Her recognition that a party like ours in on a treaty journey and we need to make space for more learning and dialogue and korero about these issues and be open to how the treaty can be implemented in the future,” Ms Turei says.

Jeanette Fitzsimons will be replaced in the Green caucus by Gareth Hughes who, at 28, will be the youngest MP.

MINIMUM WAGE RISE TOKEN AND SICK JOKE

Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says a 25 cent lift in the minimum wage is disgraceful.

Parekura Horomia the new rate of $12.75 is a sick joke for those tens of thousands of Maori who are among the worst paid workers in the country.

“We need to lift it now to $15. People need more to live on. They are talking about raising gst to 15 percent. It is really dangerous for our people,” Mr Horomia says.

The last time National was in government it only raised the raised the minimum wage by 67 cents during its term.

TOBACCO BAN TIMELINE MAKES SENSE IN SHORT TERM

A Maori anti-smoking campaigner says a suggested deadline of 2013 for the sale of tobacco products is achievable.

Shane Kawenata Bradbrook from Te Ao Marama says the ban on party pills set the precedent for swift government action on drug supply.

He says three years is enough time to fund cessation programmes and pass legislation banning tobacco.

Mr Bradbrook will be telling the select committee inquiry into the tobacco industry that with more than 600 Maori a year dying from tobacco-related illness, Maori communities can't afford to wait.

“You know you can’t be real about this mahi if you want to stretch it out another 10, 20, 30 years. You’ve just got to say enough's enough,” Mr Bradbrook says.

TURIA SYMPATHETIC TO DEADLINE CALL

Associate health minister Tariana Turia says Te Ao Marama's call for a ban on the sale of cigarettes by 2013 is ambitious.

The Maori Party co-leader says it's the sort of position that the Maori affairs select committee's inquiry into smoking aims to bring out.

“It does bring into question why we would continue to sell a product we know kills 5000 people a year. Something’s got to happen,” Mrs Turia says.

Fellow Maori party MP Hone Harawira has also called for a total ban on tobacco sales.

NGAPUHI ARTISTS CONTRIBUTE TO KAIKOHE FESTIVAL

Some of Ngapuhi's leading artists have brought their work home for the iwi to see.

Their painting and sculptures went up yesterday in the Northland College Hall in Kaikohe, and they'll be on display throughout the Ngapuhi Festival running over the weekend.

Ngapuhi Runanga communications manager Taiha Molyneux says some on the biggest names in the Aotearoa art world are involved, including Shane Cotton, Manos Nathan and Kura Rawiri.

The Ngapuhi Festival will also feature the musical arts, with Katchafire, 1814, Anika Moa, and Sons of Zion among the acts on stage over the weekend.

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