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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

PM queries Maori phone investment

Prime Minister John Key says he can understand why Maori groups were reluctant to invest more money in new mobile phone company 2Degrees.

A capital raising last year by Te Huarahi Tika Maori spectrum trust failed to find new investors, resulting in a dilution of the Maori stake in the company, which uses frequences gained through Treaty claims.

Mr Key says Telecom's problems with its new XT network highlights the risk of investing in telecommunications.

“I guess the challenge is, and maybe that’s why the iwi leaders and those with a bit of cash were reluctant, is that new telecom networks are very capital intensive and what you’ve seen in the case of XT is Telecom’s thrown a lot of money at this things and yet it’s still not working. That’s your big risk, isn’t it?

“I think the challenge always was can New Zealand support three mobile networks. Now, the answer is we don’t know. Other countries have three, they have a bigger population than us but other countries do have three and support three so I expect that’s what we’ll find out in the next few years,” Mr Key says.

He says 2Degrees appears to be doing well with international investors who have deep pockets and know what they are doing.

The Government is currently considering its response to a Commerce Commission report that highlighted major barriers to new entrants in the mobile phone market.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says the huge rise in young Maori without jobs is caused by the recession rather than lack of youth rates.

A private bill in the name of ACT's Sir Roger Douglas to bring back youth rates was drawn from the ballot yesterday.

Ms Turei says getting rid of youth rates was a big win for the Green Party, and it will fight their reintroduction.

“If we want our rangatahi to be proud about their work, to feel that they are contributors to their society, to act responsibly and as adults, then we have to treat them that way, and one of the ways it to pay them the minimum adult wage,” she says.

Ms Turei says many young Maori are doing adult jobs and accepting adult responsibilities.


An expert in New Zealand English says the language is picking up more reo Maori.

Jeanette King, the head of linguistics at Canterbury University, says Pakeha are using Maori words more often because of what they learn from school and the wider society.

She says that means specific words are crossing over like hui, kaupapa and tangi.

Professor King says most of the country's print media no longer put English meanings in brackets next to common Maori words, which shows most New Zealanders know what those words mean.


The new deputy chief judge of the Maori Land Court says New Zealand can learn from international experience to find local solutions for Maori problems.

Judge Caren Fox from Ngati Porou and Rongowhakaata has studied international law as it relates to indigenous peoples, and has worked with Native American and Pacific groups.

She says lessons can be learned in areas such as natural resource management and economic development, without forgetting what is unique to Maori.

“It's important that we recognise however solutions to the issues that impact on Maoridom are to be found ultimately here and only here,” Judge Fox says.


A Maori prison reformer says Maori are being excluded from the debate around ACT's three strikes sentencing law, despite the effect it will have on Maori prisoners.

Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the Government is limiting submissions on the Sentencing and Parole Bill to people who spoke up when it was first introduced.

That excludes most Maori organisations.

“They were all agin it but when you ask them ‘Why didn’t you make a submission?’ the response was ‘because we never thought the National Government would take this bill seriously.’ They honestly believed it was such an outrageous piece of legislation it was simply not possible for the National Government to support it to the extent they have,” Mr Workman says.

He says the government is ignoring advice from the Ministry of Justice about the effect of the bill on Maori and the chance people could be locked up for up to 10 times longer than they would be under current legislation.


The author of a new book about Parihaka says it reveals a previously untold story about Maori urbanisation.

The Parihaka Album, Lest We Forget by LaTrobe University journalism lecturer Rachael Buchanan is being launched about now at the Wellington Railway station.

It draws on stories from her own whanau, many of whom ended up in Wellington after their ancestral lands in Taranaki were confiscated.

That challenges the widely accepted narrative that urbanisation was mainly a 1950s and 60s phenomenon.

“Maori also were urban people and they stayed in cities and tried as best they could to preserve what was left but it was pretty difficult for like my grandmother and great grandmother when there weren’t any marae left for them to connect with and I think there was probably a bit of a feeling of shame or they were whakamaa about going back to Taranaki,” Ms Buchanan says.

Parihaka Album is published by Huia

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