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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuhoe talking tough on Te Urewera

Tuhoe's chief negotiator says the Crown has no case for hanging on to Te Urewera National Park.

Tamati Kruger says return of the 2000 square kilometre park is a bottom line for the eastern Bay of Plenty iwi, but it's prepared to maintain and improve public access.

The government has offered other iwi co-governance of national parks as part of settlements, but it consistently rejected the comprehensive handover the Tuhoe is seeking.

Mr Kruger says Te Urewera is in a unique situation.

“It is the only part where the local people live thoughout the park. Their lands are scattered within that park are. That’ s like a smoking gun. It’s evidence the national park looks incidently like the Rohe potae of Tuhie before to Crown interference,” Mr Kruger says.

Tuhoe hopes to complete its negotiations this year.


Families commissioner Kim Workman has praised the contribution of former Social Welfare boss Christine Rankin to the commission's whanau strategy.

When Ms Rankin was appointed to the commission, critics claimed she would be out of touch with the reality for Maori families.

But Mr Workman from Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa says that was far from the case.

“Christine Rankin has been one of our most fervent supporters and she has seen for herself the issues and responded very positively to them” Mr Workman says.

He says too often policy is developed within a Pakeha framework which suits the bureaucracy but fails to reflect the way Maori see the world and respond to it.


Te Wananga o Aotearoa is celebrating its 25th birthday.

Chief executive Bentham Ohia says the Maori education powerhouse dates its origins back to the building of Otawhau Marae as part of Te Awamutu College.

Founder Rongo Wetere was concerned at the numbers of Maori students the college was suspending or expelling, and enlisted master carver Pakariki Harrison and his wife Hinemoa to build a whare where students could celebrate their culture.

Mr Ohia says it's been a great day in the south Waikato town, as supporters remembered the contributions of those who have gone and looked to the future.

“So it's a time for solidarity, it’s a time to ensure we continue to centre our mission around whanau transformation through education,” Mr Ohia says.

Over the quarter century more than 250,000 students have studied with the nationwide tertiary education provider.


The Alcohol Advisory Council's Maori manager is backing recommendations for sweeping changes to alcohol laws.

Tuari Potiki says the reforms suggested by the Law Commission today will help reduce the harm alcohol is doing to many Maori families.

They include raising the drinking age to 20, a 10 pm cutoff for off-license sales, and all bars to close by 4am.

Mr Potiki says this will not adversely affect the majority of people who enjoy a social drink, even if alcohol retailers protest.

He says Maori drink less often, but are more prone to binge drinking and drunkenness which can lead to accidents and alcohol-fueled domestic violence.


One of the authors of a report on the treatment of child witnesses hopes it will help the many Maori children forced to take part in trials.

Emma Davies from Auckland University of Technology's (AUT) Institute of Public Policy says it's clear giving evidence is a traumatic experience for the majority of child complainants and witnesses.

She says while children interviewed remained anonymous and their ethnicity was not part of the study, previous work in the field indicates a disproportionate number are likely to be Maori.

Dr Davies says children aren't given basic information before they are put on the witness stand, and they can become distressed by being asked complex questions by defence lawyers.


The Maori and Pacific Island coordinator for Playmarket says Maori plays may be easier to sell overseas than at home.

The playwrights' agency is holding monthly readings and workshops in south Auckland to encourage more people to write for the stage.

Jenny Heka says Maori theatre has come a long way since the Maori Theatre Company's production of Porgy and Bess in the 1960s.

She says there is international interest in plays that reflect contemporary Maori and Polynesian life.

“The call for overseas is they want to hear these Maori and Pacific stories whereas in New Zealand sometimes … generally we find it hard to get our stories on main stage,” Ms Heka says.

The playwriting workshops are on the last Thursday of each month at the Metro theatre in Mangere East.


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