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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Revolutionary" change led by Maori

Leading Treaty of Waitangi scholar Claudia Orange says Maori have driven a lot of what can only be described as revolutionary change in New Zealand over the past 40 years.

At Te Papa tonight, Dr Orange hosts a debate on the development of Maori activism between Whakatohea academic Dr Ranginui Walker and his biographer Paul Spoonley.

She says change may have happened anyway, but it has been given a push through the treaty process.

“Change has been forced and it has been forced by Maori, sometimes by protest and sometimes by judicious means by a whole range of issues and there have been key Maori leaders at each time in different areas and spreading that drive in a whole range of issues and political persuasions,” Dr Orange says.

The debate and another next week between Massey university professor Mason Durie and political commentator Colin James will be broadcast on Radio New Zealand National.

MAORI FAMILIES UPSET AT IMMIGRATION POLICIES

Immigration consultant Tuariki John Delamere says a planned protest at Waitangi could get heated.

The former New Zealand First MP and immigration minister is acting for six families where the fathers of Maori children were deported as overstayers.

He says the health of whanau is a treaty issue, so the families intend to go to the birthplace of the treaty to make their point.

TOTAL BAN DEMAND ON TOBACCO PRODUCTS

The director of a Maori anti smoking group is calling for a total ban on the sale of tobacco products in New Zealand by 2013.

Shane Kawenata Bradbrook from Te Ao Marama says more than 600 Maori will die this year of a tobacco-related condition.

He says if government can ban party pills, it can ban tobacco.

“Not one death occurred and yet it was gone overnight, yet here we have this situation, 5000 New Zealanders, 600 Maori die each year and there’s no such urgency,” Mr Bradbrook says.

He says this year's Maori Affairs select committee's investigation into the tobacco industry is a chance for Maori to take the industry to task for the damage smoking does to Maori communities.

UNDERSTANDING OF TREATY ON THE RISE

The Human Rights Commission says understanding of treaty issues has risen significantly in the past year.

Race Relations commissioner Joris de Bres says the commission's annual survey found those who considered they had a good understanding of the Treaty rose from 34 to 41 per cent.

He says 56 per cent saw it as New Zealand's founding document.

“Those were good results. The general view still in terms of those surveys is the health of the Crown-tangata whenua relationship has some way to go,” Mr de Bres says.

The government was seen as making good progress with Treaty settlements, despite refusing to allow Maori representation on the Auckland super city council.

TECHERS PREPARE FOR TE KOTAHITANGA ROLL-OUT

It's back to the classroom already this week for teachers in the 17 schools coming in to the innovative professional development programme Te Kotahitanga.

Russell Bishop, the foundation professor of Maori education at Waikato University, says the schools, which include clusters on the East Coast and the Hawkes Bay, bring more than 6000 Maori students into programme.

In-school facilitators are training the teachers about what support they can expect and how they can change their classroom practices and interactions with Maori students to improve outcomes.

Professor Bishop says it's an important week for the 50 schools in Te Kotahitanga.

“Some of these schools are using these weeks now as part of their initiation into the school and so new staff come along and existing staff come in and support them and they use it as a big team building exercise for the start of the year,” he says.

Professor Bishop has just completed a book on how innovation can be scaled up through the school system, and he's writing another one on the lessons of Te Kotahitanga.

EDUCATIONS STANDARDS WILL EXCLUDE MAORI STUDENTS

Meanwhile, Greens' co-leader Meteria Turei says the Government's planned national education standards will hurt Maori students.

In yesterday's cabinet reshuffle, Education Minister Anne Tolley was relieved of her tertiary education responsibilities so she could concentrate on introducing the new testing regime for primary schools.

Ms Turei says it's clear Mrs Tolley is following former United States president George Bush's no child left behind policy, even though it has been shown to have a negative effect on students from minorities.

“In the UK and US the black and poorer students in those countries have suffered the most under national standards because teachers are teaching to the test, there are students who don’t get access to the test because they won’t pass it and therefore the school won’t allow them to sit those tests,” Ms Turei says.

Low decile schools which include lot of Maori children will be hit hardest by national standards.

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