Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Milk plant planned on Tuaropaki land

Two Maori land trusts are teaming up to build a $100 million milk processing plant at Mokai northwest of Lake Taupo.

Tuaropaki and Wairarapa Moana run about 10,000 cows, which could supply about a fifth of the plant's capacity.

Kingi Smiler, the chair of Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, says once they get resource consents from Environment Waikato they will seek to involve other Maori trusts within the region, both as suppliers and investors.

He says it's an advance on supplying milk to Fonterra.

“In terms of our particular trusts and Maori in particular we are generational farmers and we think there is a lot of demand out there for milk products and we think this is the next logical move on behalf of our shareholders which will be a more attractive proposition for our shareholders over time,” Mr Smiler says.

Initially Miraka will make whole milk powder.


Phil Goff says New Zealand could learn lessons Australia on how to beat Maori unemployment.

The Labour leader says with the number of Maori out of work now running at over 15 percent, the highest it's been since the early 1990s, all the Government can think of is more tax cuts for the well off.

He says in contrast to National's do-nothing approach, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd responded to the spike in unemployment with well targeted stimulus and training packages.

“The result is that they have brought their unemployment rate down, and our unemployment rate is now 30 percent higher than that of Australia. For most of our history, New Zealand has had a much lower rate of unemployment that Australia. They’re beating us at that now even though John Key said he wanted to close the gap. Well, he’s going in the wrong direction,” Mr Goff says.

Skill and apprenticeship training programmes targeted at young Maori are desperately needed.


An education researcher says the National Certificate of Education Achievement is working for Maori students.

That's in spite of a Salvation Army report showing only half Maori school leavers have NCEA level two compared to three quarters of Pakeha.

Dr Rose Hipkins, the chief researcher for the Council for Education Research, says while there is a gap between Maori and Pakeha achievement, that gap narrowed by 4 percent between 2004 and 2008, and the trend is continuing.

“They're definitely doing better because there is a wider range of subjects they can do their learning in and get credits for their NCEA for. It’s not like the old system where you had to be good at the academic subjects or you were likely to be a failure. The whole premise on which it is based is different,” Dr Hipkins says.

She says the work schools are doing to improve the performance of their Maori students will show results over time.


A seminar in Wellington today will hear that Maori want their claims for ownership of water to be considered in any reform of water allocation and management.

Morrie Love from Te Atiawa says he'll seek to show attendees at the New Zealand Freshwater Management Forum that Maori, in common with many other indigenous groups, see control of water as being even more important than control of land.

He says that jars with English law which takes as its starting point ownership of land.

“The whole concept that water can’t be owned is in fact an English law construct. Maori see it in a different way. They might not use the term ownership but certainly, as the people of the Whanganui say, ‘I am the river and the river is me.’ That is a statement of ownership.
Mr Love says.

He says the government has indicated it wants to make a fresh start on water policy, and Maori want to be part of that.


A Maori lawyer says the behaviour of the Iwi Leaders Forum shows there's still a need for the New Zealand Maori Council.

The Maori Affairs select committee is holding an inquiry into the operation of the Maori Community Development Act, which provides the legal foundation for Maori councils and Maori wardens.

Annette Sykes from Ngati Pikiao says the council has been under attack for years from iwi leaders who say it's outdated and the Crown should deal directly with iwi.

But she says secretive negotiations between the Iwi Leaders Forum and Attorney general Chris Finlayson over replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act show they can't be trusted.

Ms Sykes says the Maori Council has a proud record of fighting for treaty rights as well as advocating for poor, urban and disengaged Maori.


Maori look set to make way for bean counters as the government's reforms bit into the tertiary sector.

The government is trimming the size of polytechnic councils to eight members, and appointing half of those itself, including the chairs and deputy chairs.

Tom Ryan, the president of the Tertiary Education Union, says that means students, staff, union, regional employers and Maori will have to fight for the remaining four slots, and their ability to influence the programmes polytechs offer will be greatly reduced.

“It's basically community representation and all the different groups that represent the community, they’re benign done away with, and basically it’s the bran counters and accountants, the business people who are going to be put on these boards,” Dr Ryan says.

Iwi need to get in now and lobby the polytech boards to specify a position on the new boards for Maori.

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