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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, May 31, 2010

Filmmaker Merata Mita dies suddenly

Pioneer filmmaker Merata Mita has died after collapsing on the steps of Maori Television's Auckland headquarters, where she had been attending a meeting about an upcoming special.

Ms Mita, from Ngati Pikiao and Ngaiterangi, started using film and video while teaching at Kawerau College in the 1970s.

In 1978 she took a crew to Orakei just in time to film police removing occupiers from the site of a planned residential development on land taken from Ngati Whatua.

Her documentary Bastion Point: Day 507 was followed by others including Patu on the 1981 Springbok Tour, the first feature length documentary by a New Zealand woman.

Claudette Hauiti, the deputy chair of Maori industry group Nga Ohu Whakaari, says she will forever be associated with a group of Maori filmmakers who broke down barriers.

“Merata Mita along with a lot of others – Selwyn Muru, Don Selwyn - crafted images of Maori that became iconic images of Maori for New Zealand. Merata detailed the history of this country through the eyes and lens of Maori,” Ms Hauiti says.

A generation of Maori broke into the world of film and television by working on Merata Mita's productions.

No reira Merata... e kore koe e wareware i a matou o te ao papaaho... takoto mai, takoto mai, moe mai raa.

SIR WIRA GARDINER GIVEN TOP TERTIARY EDUCATION ROLE

The new chair of the Tertiary Education Commission says his work in Maori organisations has prepared him to oversee the annual $3 billion spend on the sector.

Sir Wira Gardiner, a former first executive of Te Puni Kokori, adds the post to a raft of jobs which have come his way since the election of a National Government, including membership of the boards of Te Papa Tongarewa and Maori Television and as Crown facilitator for negotiations with Tuhoe.

He says the three year appointment is logical.

“I've always had an interest in tertiary education. I’ve been with the wanangas for over 20 years and I was with the founding fathers of Awanuiarangi. I’ve got a passion for tertiary education and I think that’s a logical outcome to the step to this job which will be a big challenge,” Sir Wira says.

TOBACCO COMPANIES TARGETING WOMEN THROUGH PACKAGING

A Maori health researcher says restrictions on tobacco advertising haven't stopped the tobacco companies targeting Maori women.

Marketing to women is the theme of today's World Smokefree Day.

Heather Gifford from Whakauae Research says a new study reported in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal lifts the lid on how packaging, price and the use of terms like mild and light lure so many Maori women to take up smoking.

“People think they're sort of sexy, basically. It’s the packaging design, they use colours that appeal to women, they use images that appeal to women. There’s a really high use of the Internet by Maori, particularly Maori youth, and there’s lots of marketing tobacco through the Internet,” Dr Gifford says.

LAND ACQUISITION STRATEGY DRIVES DAIRY FARM SUCCESS

The country's top Maori dairy farmer says its success was a result of finding new ways to fund its growth.

Waipapa 9 Trust won the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the 3000-cow operation it runs near Taupo on behalf of 1200 Raukawa and Ngati Tuwharetoa shareholders.

Chairperson Dawson Haa says when the banks refused to lend on multiply-owned Maori land, the trust used stock as collateral to buy five neighbouring farms which were each considered too small to be economical.

That gave it land under general title it could borrow against for development, as well as returning land into tribal ownership.

“We certainly do look at retaining the land that was once ours and the only way to do it without anyone moaning and groaning and carrying on about Maoris always getting a handout, the best thing is to compete in the open market and buy it at the value that has been put on it by the owners,” Mr Haa says.

BACKLASH ON TOBACCO TAX RISE NOT VISIBLE

Associate health minister Tariana Turia says a feared backlash against the rise of the tax on tobacco hasn't happened.

It's World Smokefree Day, and the Maori Party co-leader was in Hawera launching Maori health provider Ngati Ruanui Tahua's sponsored challenge to giving 22 participants 40 days to give up smoking.

She says smokers understand the reason for the price of their daily smoke rising.

“Most people have been really happy to think that we care enough about them to want them to give up smoking. I mean they’re terribly addicted and it’s terribly difficult to give up but they know they also need a lot of tools that are going to help them. Price is one of them,” Mrs Turia says.

She hopes the select committee inquiry into the tobacco industry will push for the removal of cigarette advertising from retail outlets, despite a big push from the industry against the move.

WAKA REGATTA RESULTS BODE WELL FOR FUTURE

One of the leaders of New Zealand's contingent to the world Waka Ama Championships says it's possible Aotearoa could one day topple Tahiti as the sport's leader.

French Polynesia ended the regatta in Noumea at the weekend with 28 gold, 24 silver and 10 bronze medals, compared with New Zealand's 11 golds, 10 silvers and 21 bronzes.

Australia took home 19 medals and Hawaii 12.

Hoturoa Kerr from Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa Trust says New Zealand has the largest number of paddlers, including more than 200 Maori, but the Tahitians' experience counted in the big races.

“It's probably going to be a 10 to 15 year plan to actually get to the point where we can be consistently taking out some of the more premier races at an event like, this, but we’re getting close. It’s just a bit of work to try to make it happen,” Mr Kerr says.

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