Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

FOMA members keen on state assets

The chief executive of the Federation of Maori Authorities says FOMA members are keen to buy state assets if and when the government puts them up for sale.

Finance Minister Bill English has indicated that while the government intends to stick to its promise of no state asset sales this term, it's looking to privatise businesses like Kiwibank if it's reelected.

Ron Mark says FOMA members have come through the recession well, and see investment in state assets as a way to diversify from their agricultural base.

“There are many of our members who are sitting on cash reserves, who have very high levels of equity, very low levels of debt and they will be able to swiftly lever themselves into these opportunities of the due diligence stacks up,” he says.

Federation members would be particularly interested in water, utilities, transport, banking, construction and energy assets.

MAORI IN COLD AS SUPER CITY PLANS FINALISED

Labour leader Phil Goff says changes to the third Auckland super city bill still leave Maori in the cold.

He says public pressure forced the government to make the unelected Council Control Organisations slightly more accountable to elected officials, but they will still control more than half the rates.

And while local boards can have more members, they will still be totally dependent on the super city council.

“So essentially they’ve taken the local out of local government, they’ve passed a lot of the expenditure of our money across to unelected, unaccountable bodies, those things haven’t changed, Regardless of the bad process they’ve followed in the Royal Commission recommendations, they’ve left Maori without Maori seats on the Auckland Council,” Mr Goff says.

He says the government will fly a Maori flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge one day a year but it won't give them meaningful representation in city affairs.

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION PUSHING FOOD TAX DROP

The Public Health Association want to limit the impact of the Budget on Maori families by having GST removed from healthy food.

Director Gay Keating says the government should apply the same logic it used to lift the tax on tobacco.

She says research from Auckland University shows providing nutritional information has no impact on healthy choices, but lowering the price does.

“It's not that people don't know what’s the good food to buy. People are telling us time and time again they can’t afford the healthy food. We want government to take the sensible step and make healthy food free of GST,” Dr Keating says.

The Public Health Association is urging MPs to send Maori Party MP Rahui Katene's bill removing GST from healthy food to a select committee so the issue can be publicly debated.

TIGHT SCHEDULE FOR OUTSIDE THE WIRE REHAB UNITS

The first two units to reintegrate Maori prisoners back into their communities should be up and running by the second half of next year.

Whare Oranga Ake are the brainchild of Maori party co-leader and Associate Corrections Minister Pita Sharples.

Alison Thom, the corrections department's general manager for rehabilitation and reintegration services, says 16-bed units will be located next to Maungaroa prison in the Hawkes Bay and the new Springhill prison near Meremere.

“It's recognition that offenders engaging in rehabilitation and reintegration services inside prisons, as they get closer to their own communities there’s another opportunity for them to be tested about their change of thinking and about their preparedness for reengaging back with whanau and community by that extra place of confidence for them being outside the wire,” Ms Thom says.

Corrections will work closely with iwi and Maori service providers to give the inmates the bridge they need to move back into the community.

NGATI WHATUA WANTS SAY ON WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT

Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua says it needs to be front and centre when decisions are made about developing the city's waterfront.

Select committee changes to the third Auckland super city bill means the mayor and the Auckland Council will be able to develop a master plan for the area, not a waterfront development agency as previously suggested.

Ngarimu Blair, the iwi's culture and heritage manager, says Ngati Whatua harbours a deep sense of grievance about the loss of its foreshore and seabed along the Waitemata, and wants a formal say in its future.

“There are lots of other issues along the waterfront. We’re a major landholder if not one of the larges with our 1996 acquisition of the railway land site. We’re very keen to see how the waterfront will develop and what role we could play,” Mr Blair says.

He says the select committee ignored Maori submissions on the super city bill.

CHILDHOOD CENTRES URGED TO WORK CLOSELY WITH PARENTS

The Education Review Office says mainstream Early Childhood Centres need to work more closely with Maori parents.

Its evaluation services national manager, Diana Anderson, says the majority of Maori children attend mainstream centres, but too often teachers and principals don't respond adequately to the expectations of parents and families of Maori children.

She says some centres are showing the way.

“There's no one recipe for this but the most important thing is the teacher’s commitment to making sure that the Maori children get the very best start in their early childhood education that they possibly can. And then to going out and building really good relationship with Maori families so those families feel comforted and supported in the centre and that their children are getting contextually appropriate programme,” Ms Anderson says.

Research shows Maori children learn better when their education was put in a Maori context.

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