Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Turia challenges schools to change

Associate social welfare minister Tariana Turia says schools need to become more culturally relevant for Maori children.

The Government is putting more money into cracking down on absenteeism and truancy in schools, after an Education Ministry survey found 30,000 students a day were skipping classes, more than half of them Maori and Pacific Island.

Mrs Turia says while teachers don't like the government's proposal to make them more accountable through national standards, too many students aren't inspired by what they get in the classroom.

“Schools need to change. I know schools don’t like change and they don’t like people being critical of them but we can blame parents as much as we like but in the ends schools have to step up to the mark and provide a culturally competent environment for Maori kids to be in,” Mrs Turia says.

She says because of the deficiencies in schools, Maori money has been invested teaching non-Maori teachers how to teach Maori kids.


Manukau Urban Maori Authority chief executive Willie Jackson is defending Destiny Church founder Brian Tamaki from charges his church is a cash cult.

The broadcaster and former Alliance MP says he's impressed with how Bishop Tamaki has turned around the lives of many Maori.

Mr Jackson says there's a racial edge to the attacks.

“This Maori’s sort of got so big for his boots it’s just not funny. That’s the reality. Look, all the churches have been tithing since the beginning of time. This guy’s come out with more innovative, in your face ways of doing it and it’s offensive to people because people say ’You can’t do it like that Brian, you don’t actually go and put an eftpos machine in the church.’Well I suppose he wants to make sure of his 10 percent,” Mr Jackson says.

The latest scrutiny of the Destiny Church was sparked by its Brisbane pastor walking out with many of the congregation in protest at increased levies to buy more television time for Bishop Tamaki.


The executive officer of Maori film and television group Nga Aho Whakaari says getting te reo Maori onto the Internet and cellphone screens is the new frontier for keeping the language alive.

Pita Turei says if spectrum freed up by the switch to digital television is reallocated by open market auctions, Maori don't stand a chance against telecommunication giants like Telecom and Vodafone.

He says as other devices replace today's televisions, Maori are entitled by the Treaty of Waitangi to a fair chunk of spectrum.

“Our battle is to ensure that we get a slice of that, that the ruling of the Privy Council and the Waitangi Tribunal is respected in that this is to be regarded as a taonga because it is a mechanism we need to keep our language and our culture alive in the modern world,” Mr Turei says.


Waikato hapu Ngati Wairere is planning to put a rahui over land at Ruakura Research Centre to provide additional protection if trials to put human genes into goats, sheep and cows are given the go ahead.

Spokesperson Wiremu Puke says the trials could have long-term benefits for Maori if they lead to the production of compounds which address diseases like diabetes.

He says while the hapu is confident everything is being done to make sure the trials are safe, making the land tapu would give even greater protection.

“We'd look at getting a pou rahui put up to indicate to people that beyond these pou rahui is a defined boundary that you don’t go on to unless you have authorization to do so,” Mr Puke says.

He says some Maori who oppose the trials are acting in faith-based ignorance rather than trying to understand the science.


Rotorua's deputy mayor says the take up of direct flights into the sulphur city from Sydney is exceeding expectations.

Trevor Maxwell says bigger visitor numbers since the first flight in December creates more opportunity for the region's Maori tourism operators like the Mitai Experience and the Tamaki Village.

Long term prospects are encouraging, with loadings already at 85 percent.

He says everyone in Rotorua is working hard to encourage the service in the hope other centres like Melbourne and Brisbane will also offer direct flights.


Veteran children's writer Katerina Mataira has made the shortlist for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards with Hu Hu Koroheke, a translation of Kyle Mewburn's Old Hu Hu.

Paora Tibble, the awards' te reo Maori advisor, says the Raglan-based author uses rich descriptive kupu to complement Rachel Driscoll's illustrations.

He says it's sure to appeal to young learners of Maori, as Mataira’s words bring the story alive in te reo.

The English language edition is also in the finals, with the winner to be announced on May 19.

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