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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sacred rock dynamited despite plea

A last minute plea by Te Tai Hauauru MP Tariana Turia failed to stop the destruction yesterday of a sacred rock at Te Anga on the King Country's west coast.

The Maori Party co-leader asked The Lines Company subsidiary Clearwater Hydro to hold off blowing up the 2 metre high Te Rongomai o Te Karaka.

But Natasha Willison-Reardon from Marakopa Marae says whanau were marched off their ancestral land by police and watched helplessly as the kohutu was dynamited to make way for a power project on the privately-owned farm.

“It felt like someone had died. To do it while we were standing there, after being escorted off the property, it’s just another case of our lore, versus the law which takes no notice,” Mrs Willison-Reardon says.

She says there are a number of other waahi tapu sites in the developer's path, and opposition is likely to intensify.

KEY KEEN ON MARAE COURT HEARINGS

The Prime Minister says he wants more marae round the country to hold youth court hearings.

John Key launched the third Maori Youth Court at West Auckland's Hone Waititi Marae this morning.

The first tikanga-based court session for young Maori were held last year at Te Poho o Rawhiri marae in Gisborne, with Manurewa Marae also holding hearings.

Mr Key says the hearings engage young people in the justice process.

“It's quite possible for someone who’s before the court system, a young person, to be quite disengaged from the process. Their lawyer or others can speak for them. As I understand, when they get out to the marae, it’s a very different situation. They are called to account,” Mr Key says.


WHANUA PART OF SMOKING CURE

A Kaitaia anti-smoking worker says overcoming family pressure is often the biggest part of quitting for Maori.

Kahu Thompson from Te Hauora of Te Hiku o te Ika's Aukati kai Paipa programme made a submission today to the Maori Afffiars Select Committee inquiry into the tobacco industry.

She says some Maori find it hard not just to overcome the physical addiction but to make the necessary changes in their social life.

“It is a hard thing to quit. A lot of Maori, because it is such a social thing, so many Maori in the whanau smoke and that is a toughy for the whole whanau, so we like to work with the whole whanau, makes it easier,” Mrs Thompson says.

A lot of Maori don't realise help is available, even though many of the smoking cessation programmes have been round for a decade or more.

WANANGA SECTOR PLAYING CATCH-UP

The head of Whakatane-based Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi says an overhaul of the tertiary sector needs to take into account the historic under-performance of the sector for Maori.

Education minister Steven Joyce has called for at least 25 percent of the 6000 qualifications on offer to be scrapped by the middle of the year, and for performance-based funding for institutions.

Graham Hingangaroa Smith says the wananga sector is doing valuable work finding new ways to engage Maori in education, and he'd be concerned if programmes were scrapped based on unsuitable criteria.

“We still have have a major crisis of underdevelopment in Maori education across the board. While there may be a need to get more value for the money from the government’s point of view, the fact of the matter is while they are doing that they need to keep their eye on the ball that Maori education needs a lot of stimulation,” Professor Smith says.

Many of the courses offered by wananga may look different to other tertiary programmes, but they are vital to reengage Maori students and lead them towards vocational training.

STEP CHANGE NEEDED ON TOBACCO SALES

The director of Te Ohu Auahi Kore Smokefree Coalition says more government-backed smoking cessation programmes are needed before it's realistic to talk about banning tobacco sales.

Prudence Strong says she's excited some members of the Maori Affairs select committee inquiry into the tobaco industry are buying into the coalition's vision of a smokefree New Zealand by 2020.

But she says many of the 34 members of Te Ohu Auahi Kore provide support services for nicotine addicts, and they know the process can't be rushed.

“That addiction needs to be addressed first. We need to support those smokers to quit successfully. This can take some time so we need to have the funding and all the initiatives supported by government for a good interim phase before we can eliminate sales of tobacco,” Dr Prudence Strong says.

Tomorrow at Alexandra Park, the select committee inquiry will hear from British American Tobacco as well as from Maori and health groups.

REGIONAL STATIONS CAUTIOUS ABOUT FUTURE

The manager of Gisborne's Maori-focused television station fears regional stations may miss out in the switch to digital TV.

Tena Baker from East Coast TV says the free-to-air analogue station holds its own against mainstream channels by re-broadcasting popular Tairawhiti events like kapa haka and sports.

But if it can't win a digital slot, the only remaining option of satellite transmission is too expensive.

She says the government has a responsibility to ensure reo and tikanga are heard through broadcasting and on radio.

Ms Baker says some iwi including Rongowhakaata are talking to East Coast Television about running their own stations.

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