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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Time to patch up whanau

Te Tai Hauauru MP Tariana Turia is attacking Local Government New Zealand's bid to extend Whanganu's gang patch ban.

The organisation is drafting an amendment to the Local Government Act which would allow any council to outlaw insignia.

Mrs Turia says councils should concentrate on what gang members do, rather than what they wear, by offering alternatives to crime and violence.

She says gangs are part of the community.

“A lot of these guys and particularly at home in Whanganui are very closely related to us. Stop talking about them as gang members. Talk about them as whanau members and have a look at what we should all be doing to provide them with opportunities focusing on their potential,” Mrs Turia says.

She says in the past local bodies have successfully modified gang behavour through contract work schemes, rather than trying to isolate and ostracise them.


Tuhoe negotiators are proposing a transitional arrangement which would give the eastern Bay of Plenty iwi full control of Te Urewera National Park within a decade.

Chief negotiator Tamati Kruger says Tuhoe hopes to have a final agreement by the end of the year.

He says ownership and control of Te Urewera is a bottom line for the iwi, but it might take some time to sell it to the public ... so a five to 10 year plan could be in order.

“It would give the Department of Conservation and Tuhoe some time to provide proof to the New Zealand public that their rights are unimpeded into Te Urewera and that a governance and management plan will provide greater accessibility, better hospitality, better tracks and huts and improved services,” Mr Kruger says.

The Crown's position that it wants to jointly look after the 212,000 ha park is unacceptable to Tuhoe


A Maori academic who helped draft the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is backing the secrecy around New Zealand's affirmation of the document.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has copped flak for last week's trip to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

Aroha Mead from Victoria University, who started working on the draft in the 1980s, says the issue has become politicised because of Labour's opposition to the declaration, so caution is understandable.

“There have been some criticisms of the secret nature of the trip but given the political climate and the reaction of some of the parties in Parliament to the news, I can understand why it was done in a secretive way,” Ms Mead says.

Despite her long association with the declaration, she only heard of Pita Sharples’ trip the night before.


A New Zealander who worked on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says the previous Labour government dragged the country's international reputation to an all time low.

Aroha Mead from Ngati Awa and Ngati Porou says while New Zealand officials participated in the meetings where the document was drafted, behind the scenes its politicians lobbied to water it down.

She says people around the world were shocked when New Zealand failed to sign up to the minimum standards agreed in the declaration.

“It's probably one thing when you’re sitting over in the Beehive in Wellington to think that it’s ok to mess around with an international negotiation but when you’re the person who’s sitting in the UN as one of four countries in the world to vote against the adoption of this instrument, it was really shocking and it was a low point in New Zealand’s credibility as a democratic nation,” Ms Mead says.

She believes Labour opposed the declaration because it cast its Foreshore and Seabed Act in a bad light, and says it's wonderful New Zealand has now signed up to it.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says there's a downside to including Maori terms in legislation.

Mrs Turia says consultation over the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act has thrown up gaps between what words mean to Maori and what they mean to officials.

She says peole seem to be talking past each other on concepts like ownership, property rights and kaitiakitanga, usually translated as guardianship.

“The moment we start using our own cultural terminology, the Crown then begin to define what that means. We get a lower definition of what those rights are when we start using words like kaitiakitanga, it seems to enable the Crown to give us less rights than what we are entitled to,” Mrs Turia says

She says Maori shouldn't have to put up with second rate settlements.


A veteran actor and director Jim Moriarty says a play about Maori participation in the Battle for Crete has a wealth of lessons for at risk Maori youth.

Te Rakau Charitable trust is this week staging Battalion by Helen Pearse-Otene at St Bernards School in Wellington.

Mr Moriarty plays a Maori Battalion veteran remembering the battle, and the other roles of Battalion members and contemporary youth are played by rangatahi who are in Te Rakau's residential programme.

He says the play offers positive male role models, and it also gives the boys a chance to measure their progress.

“It allows them to play in a disciplined and constructive way, because they’re all natural little actors thee kids, they’ve been acting to survive most of their lives probably, putting on some sort of show, lying, cheating, thieving, manipulating, and here we are going let’s turn that into something with more pro-social outcomes around it,” Mr Moriarty says.

He says the Maori Battalion attracted risk-takers, who today might have ended up on the streets.


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