Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Avalanche of submissions against mining

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei hopes for a tactical retreat by the government once the full extent of public opposition to mining on high value conservation land is revealed.

By today's deadline the Ministry of Economic Development has received more than 35,000 submissions on its review of section 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.

Ms Turei says the government's attitude and its failure to properly consult with iwi in affected areas have revealed what it really thinks about Maori interests.

“When you compare it to the Tuhoe issue, they’re happy to give away conservation land to the mining industry for someone else to make a big fat profit but they’re not prepared to consider treaty claims over the conservation, they’re not prepared to consider the public view and they’re not prepared to consult with Maori over what is their land and waahi tapu,” she says.


The chair of Restorative Justice Aotearoa, Mike Hinton, says the new Sentencing and Parole Reform Act is a direct attack on Maori communities.

What's known as the three strikes Act imposes long sentences without parole on criminals on the third conviction for crimes of a violent or sexual nature.

Police Minister Judith Collins says it will ensure the worst repeat violent criminals have less chance to reoffend, and puts the rights of victims and their families to the fore.

But Mr Hinton says its effect will be to provide the prison industry with more Maori clients.

“More Maori are locked up than anybody else. If that money was spent on rehab and addressing the causes of crimes, then they wouldn’t have the prisoners to lock up because they wouldn’t have the criminals. They’re not addressing the social and economic drivers of crime,” he says.

Mr Hinton says most victims of crime prefer rehabilitation to retribution.


The Federation of Maori Authorities sees Maori as the ideal buyers of privatised state assets.

Labour leader Phil Goff thas called on Maori leaders to oppose National's second term privatisation plan, as they did in the late 1980s and early 90's

But federation chief executive Ron Mark says the situation today is vastly different, and the concern of Maori is that assets stay in New Zealand hands.

“What we are talking now is m taking a stake in nz inc themselves and the o ne thing nz shd be v happy with is knowing m will do so with v v long timelines in mind,” he says.

Many Maori trusts and incorporations have come through the recession in a healthy state and are keen to diversify beyond agriculture.


Rotorua lawyer Annette Sykes from Ngati Pikiao says the three strikes law is a new colonial battlefront for Maori.

The Sentencing and Parole Reform Act passed last night by the Government with ACT's support ups the sentences handed out to people convicted multiple times of violent or sexual crimes.

Ms Sykes says the in-built bias in the justice system means Maori will be disproportionately affected.

She says it's no solution to reducing crime.

“One of the things that Maori have long challenged since Moana Jackson’s investigation (in the 1980s) into the criminal justice system is this doggedness on behalf of this Crown and previous governments to follow American laws which have failed in their own country and introduce them almost like a new colonization into our country,” Ms Sykes says.

New Zealanders don't even play baseball, where the three strikes metaphor comes from.


Meanwhile, the Corrections Department's head of rehabilitation and reintegration services says the involvement of iwi will be a major element in how two planned Maori reintegration units will work.

The Government has set aside almost $20 million to build 16-bed Whare Oranga Ake at Maungaroa prison in the Hawkes Bay and the new Springhill prison near Meremere.

Alison Thom from Ngapuhi says success depends on strong partnerships with iwi and Maori service providers.

“They will be the link to communities so that will involve them assisting prisoners in getting work, assisting them gaining skills such as parenting skills, and also assisting in getting the right supportive accommodation they will need when they leave Whare Oranga Ake,” Ms Thom says.

The units should be up and running by the second half of next year.


Principals and team leaders involved in Te Kotahitanga are at the Tainui Endowed College this week learning the latest methods on how teachers can improve the way they deal with Maori students in the classroom.

Programme head Russell Bishop from Waikato University says 50 schools with high Maori rolls are now involved, and the success of Te Kotahitanga in raising students' achievement has been confirmed by third party studies.

He says it has become a school reform programme rather than just professional development for teachers.

“We used to just focus on classroom change but now we are seeing we need to focus on supporting leaders to change the whole institution. It’s quite expensive. It’s time consuming. However, it’s nowhere near as expensive as the downstream effects of not supporting Maori students to stay in schools adequately,” Professor Bishop says.

The infrastructure is now in place to make Te Kotahitanga available to all schools, if the Government was willing to fund it.


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