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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 25, 2010

PM’s comments upset mobile phone insurgent

Mobile phone operator Two Degrees is taking the Prime Minister to task for his suggestion New Zealand may not be big enough for three mobile networks.

John Key made his comments in a discussion with Radio Waatea host Dale Husband on why Maori seemed reluctant to invest further in the company, which uses frequences gained through Treaty claims.

Two Degrees chief executive Eric Hertz says many countries of comparable size or smaller have multiple networks, including Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland and Iceland.

He says Mr Key needs to create the conditions for fair competition.

“I would like to see the government drive down those wholesale costs tat each carrier pays each other so that 2Degrees customers aren’t subsidizing Telecom New Zealand by the high cost to call those customers and I think that’s really the key thing that will level the playing field and make it much more easy to be successful over the long term, to drive those wholesale prices, those mobile termination rates down more quickly,” Mr Hertz says.

He says a Commerce Commission recommendation that Telecom and Vodafone be allowed to gradually lower wholesale prices won't benefit New Zealand consumers fast enough, and the Government needs to regulate.

COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS MAORI DAIRY PRESENCE

The chief judge of this year's Ahuwhenua awards for Maori dairy farming excellence says unemployed rangitahi should look towards the industry.

Opotiki dairy farmer Doug Leeder says Maori are already major players in dairying, and more opportunities will be created if plans come off for a Maori-owned processing plant.

He says when one in three young Maori is jobless, the sector needs to be seen as a source of job creation.

“The days of agriculture or the dairy industry being seen as the poor cousin to other types of employment is long gone. It’s now a skilled industry and I think the future is looking good both in terms of employment for Maori and the success of Maori enterprises,” Mr Leeder says.

He employs a number of young Maori on his Opotiki farm.

TA MOKO ARTISTS WORKING LIVE IN EXHIBITION

An East Coast ta moko expert says the wider public is keen to learn more about the ancient Maori art form.

Mark Kopua and his colleague Turumakina Duley have spent the past week tattooing people in the Face Value Exhibition at Waikato Museum.

The photo and video exhibition, curated by Serena Stevenson, explores the relationship between ta moko artists and their subjects.

He says there is a lot iof interest from Maori and non-Maori, who get a surprise when they see some of the artists featured in the exhibition are in there working.

Face Value is at Waikato Museum and Art gallery until the end of March.

REGULATION NEEDED FOR FAIR COMPETITION

The chief executive of 2 Degrees says the Government needs to regulate the mobile phone market to give his company a fair chance to compete.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday New Zealand may be too small for the third network being created around frequencies which were allocated to Maori as a result of treaty claims.

But Eric Hertz says many comparable countries are running three or four networks.

He says if Mr Key wants real competition, his government needs to reject a Commerce Commission recommendation that Telecom and Vodafone continue to set the wholesale price for switching calls between networks.

“The role of the government and the regulator in this situation is to make sure that the playing field is leveled so you can stimulate more competition because it is competition that brings out innovation and brings prices down. What the commerce Commission has recommended will not bring the benefits to New Zealand consumers fast enough,” Mr Hertz says.

He says apart from wholesale pricing, most of the conditions for true competition are now in place.

GLAMOUR NEEDS TO BE TAKEN OFF GAMBLING

A Maori lawyer says Maori should think about ways to get rid of gambling machines from their communities.

Moana Jackson addressed an international problem gambling conference in Auckland yesterday on the indigenous responses to gambling.

He says gambling has long been a part of Maori life, but were often community activities housie or poker schools where the benefits flowed back to the marae or hapu.

That's change with modern state-sanctioned initiatives like Lotto and poker machines.

“When it became industrialised it got marketed and sold as this glamorous activity and when you do that the costs then get swept under like for years smoking was a glamour acticity, it was cool to smoke It took a long time to break that down but I think the same process is happening with gambling and that needs to be broken down as well,” Mr Jackson says.

He says pokies are disproportionately in poor and Maori areas, but the profits are taken out of those areas.

MAORI DOCUMENTARY FEATURES IN EDGE FESTIVAL

The director of the Documentary Edge Festival says viewers might be challenged by a documentary which is almost completely in Maori.

He Wawata Whaea - The Dream of an Elder profiles educator and Ngati Kuri kuia Meremere Penfold.

Dan Shanan says it was chosen for the New Zealand Competition section not only for its subject but because director Shirley Horrocks wanted the entire documentary to be in Maori.

The Documentary Edge Festival starts in Auckland tomorrow.

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