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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 15, 2010

Whanau ora dilution upsetting Maori Party

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is unhappy the Prime Minister wants to open up the party's flagship Whanau Ora programmes to all.

John Key told Parliament last week his Government will ensure Whanau Ora is available to all New Zealanders who are in need.

Dr Sharples, the Minister of Maori Affairs, says his aim is to shift service delivery from government agencies to the community.

He says it's about tackling specific and long-standing problems which lead to Maori over-representation in negative health, crime and unemployment statistics.

“I am waiting for a courageous government to say ‘gosh these Maori folk are missing out here there and there so we’re putting this programme in and it will be a bit of equity’ to the situation at the end of the day but there is this fear of votes I suppose and the general public seeing it as positive discrimination,” Dr Sharples says.

He says there is nothing privileged about 60 percent of Maori being on low wages or about living in over crowded conditions.

NGATI WHATUA KEEN TO WIN SUPPORT FOR SETTLEMENT

Auckland hapu Ngati Whatua o Orakei will go back to its members over the next few weeks to win support for the amended agreement in principle signed on Maungakiekie-One Tree Hill last Friday.

An earlier agreement was set aside so other Tamaki Makaurau iwi could participate in a collective settlement.

Spokesperson Ngarimu Blair says the Ngati Whatua trust board believes the Crown has made its best offer, and the tribe's 6000 members now need to weigh up the trade offs.

These include shared ownership of at least 11 Auckland volcanic cones, instead of three, and shared ownership of some commercial assets.

“There's a huge economic oportunity in there for us. Previously it was just a right of first refusal over central Auckland. Now that whole geographical area is widened from Miranda to Port Waikato to Muriwai to Long Bay, so for us who have a lot of experience in property acquisition and development, it’s pretty exciting for us,” Mr Blair says.

Ngati Whatua also gets $18 million in redress.

MINERALS FIGHT STILL WAITING UNDERGROUND

Lawyer Moana Jackson says government is picking a major fight with Maori if it opens up conservation land to mining.

Prime Minister John Key signaled the policy in last week's statement to Parliament.

Mr Jackson says the Crown only owns the minerals because it passed a law saying so.

“Maori have always believed if you are tangata whenua your authority extends not just to the top of the whenua but everything under the whenua. It’s not a question of Maori rights being recognised. It’s a question of a title to the resources being something that Maori have always recognized,” Mr Jackson says.

He says it's telling the Government will open up conservation land to mining companies, but exclude it from treaty settlements.

PRESSURE ON TO COMPLETE SETTLEMENTS BY YEAR END

The Treaty Negotiations Minister wants this to be the year of the deed for Auckland iwi.

Chris Finlayson was in Tamaki Makaurau on Friday to sign a framework agreement with 12 iwi and hapu for joint ownership of volcanic cones and other regional assets, and agreements in principal to settle the remaining Ngati Whatua o Orakei and Kawerau a Maki claims.

He says the Crown needs to maintain the momentum built up over the past year by negotiator Michael Dreaver from the Office of Treaty Settlements and facilitator Sir Douglas Graham.

“I'd be very ambitious to complete deeds of settlement here in time for the new city. I mentioned that to some of the OTS staff and got rather glacial looks, but I’m keen to get deeds of settlement signed up as quickly as possible,” Mr Finlayson says.

PONEKE IWI OFFER WORLD CUP MANAAKITANGA

Poneke iwi say their wharewaka or canoe house being built on Wellington's waterfront will be the ideal entertainment centre for the Rugby World Cup.

The $11 million building across the road from the Cake tin stadium will include cafes, exhibition and function areas capable of hosting up to 1200 people.

Sir Ngatata Love, the chair of the Wharewaka o Poneke Charitable Trust, says it will give tangata whenua the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the cup.

“It's going to be great that we will have our artists there, historical matters will be shown to visitors and also we’re looking for our people to bring in crafts that not only our visitors but Wellington people can see and enjoy,” Sir Ngatata says.

The trust starts an employment training course next month aimed at not just at staffing the wharewaka but at other World Cup related positions.

TAKI RUA SEEKING NEW TALENT FOR SCHOOLS PROGRAMME

Taki Rua is on the hunt for new talent for a season of school performances.

Marketing manager Keryn Jones says the Maori theatre company wants rangatahi over 17 with a commitment to te reo Maori.

The auditions, at the New Zealand Drama School Toi Whakaari in Wellington this Wednesday and Thursday nights and Auckland's Tatai Te Hono Marae on Sunday, are without a dedicated production in mind.

That's because it wants to encourage the actors to workshop and develop pieces to suit Taki Rua's audience.

“We'll get the actors we’ll get the directors together, they’ll have a workshop and work with two to three schools round Wellington. They’ll explore different ideas that are of interest to those schools, that come from a young person’s perspective. We’ve had a lot of great plays and it’s worked for us in the past but there’s always room for improvement,” Ms Jones says.

Through its schools programme Taki Rua has inspired many young Maori to take up acting, including Shortland Street's Kingi, or Te Kohi Tuhaka.

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