Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 22, 2010

Maori child health on par with Chile slums

A world authority on child health is describing the health of Maori children as an international scandal.

Innes Asher, the professor of paediatrics at Auckland medical school, is leading a study into child illness in more than a 100 countries.

She says Maori kids and others from poor families are growing up in third world conditions similar to the worst slums in countries like Chile and India.

Professor Asher says government is to blame New Zealand ranking at the top of OECD tables for preventable childhood diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, whooping cough, and rheumatic fever.

“Maori have about double rates of most of those types of conditions but particularly higher rates of rheumatic fever and bronchiectasis which are both permanently disabling conditions of the lungs and the heart so children who get these conditions may die in young adulthood from lung or heart disease or have permanent injury and be unable to work. Appalling high rates by international standards, quite a disgraceful outcome by our country’s children,” Professor Asher says.

She says many New Zealand families can’t afford to take their children to the doctor.

KAPA HAKA PREPARE FOR SHANGHAI EXPO

Groups from the country’s three top kapa haka are getting ready to stir up the crowds at the Shanghai World Expo starting in May.

A 10-metre kauri log is on its way to China to be turned into a waharoa or gateway for the New Zealand pavilion by carvers from Te Puia national Maori arts and craft institute.

Trevor Maxwell, the kaupapa Maori advisor to Tourism New Zealand, says it will be a great backdrop to the daily performances by teams from Te Waka Huia, Whangara Mai Tawhiti and Te Whanau A Apanui.

He says the Maori performing arts were a big draw at the last two world expos.

More than 70 million visitors are expected through the Shanghai Expo between May and October.

CRITICS TOO LATE TO STOP LAKE WALK CONSTRUCTION

The chair of Tuhourangi says opponents to a $4 million walkway around Lake Tarawera have missed the boat.

Some tribal members say the walkway will result in rubbish being left in the area, and it won’t have the economic benefits its promoters are claiming.

But John Waaka says they should have raised their concerns earlier in the process, rather than as construction starts.

John Waaka says the land trusts around the lake believe they can develop new businesses catering for tourists walking the track.

ADVISOR WANTS MINISTER TO DELIVER ON GOOD INTENTIONS

A member of the independent advisory group on national standards wants to make sure the new testing regime for primary and intermediate schools won't make things worse for Maori pupils.

Tonny Trinnick from Auckland University's faculty of education was put on the group at the request of associate education minister Pita Sharples.

He says Education Minister Anne Tolley has made it clear the standards will be implemented, despite the lack of clear evidence from the United States and Britain that they make a significant difference to children who are underachieving.

“National standards are like any educational initiative. On the face of it they perhaps have good intentions. We need to translate those good intentions into practice and make sure that we’re very clear that national standards will actually make a difference for our Maori children and not make things more challenging for them and for teachers,” Mr Trinnick says.

His role will be to provide free and frank advice to the minister.

OLDMAN COLLECTION GETS COORDINATED CURATORSHIP

Te Papa Tongarewa has reached agreement with other museums around the country to co-ordinate guardianship of an important collection of Maori taonga and Polynesian objects formerly owned by British collector William Oldman.

Acting chief executive Michelle Hippolite says the Oldman Collection of more than 3500 objects from the late eighteen hundreds and earlier was purchased by the New Zealand government in 1948 and split up among museums around the country on its return.

“He used to store his collection in his home and in every room including up the stairway he had object after object after object sop he obviously had a passion about the people of this land, and any opportunity he had to collect and buy, that’s exactly what he did,” Ms Hippolite says.

Some of the objects show unique styles and patterns and the agreement between Te Papa, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Canterbury museum and Otago museum will allow the collection’s full significance to be understood.

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