Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 15, 2010

Still chance for iwi on polytech councils

The head of the Tertiary Education Union is encouraging iwi to move quickly to maintain their influence on the country's polytechnics.

The Government is slashing the size of polytechnic councils from up to 16 members down to eight.

Four of these members, including the chair and deputy chair, will be Government appointees.

TEU president Tom Ryan says councils are now determining how the remaining four members will be selected, and if Maori want to maintain the influence they have built up in the sector in recent years, they need to move quickly.

“If iwi around the country get themselves quickly organised they can probably guarantee themselves one seat maybe on these boards, but of course there are going to be a lot of losers, students and staff and whatever,” Dr Ryan says.

He says community representatives who understand the unique regional needs of each polytechnic will be replaced by bean counters and business people.


Wellington iwi are training young Maori for work around next year's Rugby World Cup.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust chair Sir Ngatata Love says Wellington City Council's decision to use the iwi's proposed $11 million waterfront wharewaka or canoe house as the base for a rugby village during the tournament is a huge boost.

He says with one in four young Maori unemployed, full advantage needs to be taken of such opportunities.

“It's not just about the one off occasion. It’s saying here we can develop the people, we can develop the tourist groups here in Wellington. We can combine to make it a great occasion not only for our tourists but for our people here,” Sir Ngatata says.

The wharewaka will be able to cater for up to 1200 guests at any one time.


The first competitors for next year's Te Matatini nation kapa haka competions have been decided.

At the Tainui regional championships at Mystery Creek over the weekend, the top three teams in the last competition two years ago came through again.

Te Iti Kahurangi took out the top spot, followed by Te Pou o Mangatawhiri and Nga Pou o Roto, a young team formed after Taniwharau withdrew from competitions after its leading member Tuheitia became the Maori king.

Waatea reporter Mania Clark says Te Iti Kahurangi's winning performance drew on their experience backing the king on his trip to Rarotonga last year.

The next region to decide its Te Matatini line-up will be Mataatua in the Bay of Plenty next weekend.


The head of prison reform group Rethinking Crime and Punishment says a push to deny all prisoners the vote would discriminate against Maori.

Inmates serving sentences of three years and up can't vote.

Now National MP Paul Quinn from Ngati Awa has a private members bill which would strip the franchise from all other prisoners.

Kim Workman from Ngati Kahungunu says when the issue was last discussed in 1992, the government was advised denying the vote could breach the Bill of Rights.

Just last month the United States Court of Appeal ruled that denying prisoners a vote breaches that country's Voting Rights Act, because it discriminates disproportionately against those ethnic minorities who are overrepresented in the prison population.

“Now if you took that reasoning into New Zealand where 15 percent of the general population is Maori and 51 percent of the prison population is Maori, it would seem to breach the Bill of Rights on another account; the effect of it is to discriminate unfairly and disproportionately against an ethnic minority,” Mr Workman says.

Up to 90 percent of prisoners are out of prison within two years.


The government's proposed 20 percent hike in GST has the Maori Party scrambling to defend its base.

The party's co-leaders have acknowledged they are bound by their confidence and supply agreement to vote with the government on the increase.

But Pita Sharples wants more detail from Prime Minister John Key about how the effects on Maori families will be softened.

“The Maori Party has said to the Government, we are not happy with the GST so show us how the superannuation hike, how the working for families and how the benefit hike is gong to offset the increase in GST. Give us the figures before we can say yes we go along with the 100 percent,” Dr Sharples says.

The Maori Party will continue to push for food to be exempt from GST.


Two of Aotearoa's most distinctive Maori voices are touring the North Island this month.

Maisey Rika and Tama Waipara's Tahi Tour will feature the pair doing solo acoustic set of songs from their own albums as well as duets written especially for the tour.

Rika says the approach from Waipara for her and guitarist J.J Rika to team up felt right.

The Tahi Tour's remaining performances are in Kaitaia, Whangarei, Auckland, Mahia and Gisborne.

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