Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maori landowners still seek ETS change

Federation of Maori Authorities chief executive Ron Mark says Maori landowners will be disappointed the Budget did not deliver changes they wanted in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

He says the ETS, which comes into effect on July 1, means a huge loss for Maori because they own most of the pre-1990 forests which are heavily penalised for any change in land use.

“We have a lot of land that is currently under pine, beautifully suited to dairy, and a lot of land under sheep and beef which is suited for forestry because of its high risk of erosion, and we’re totally prevented from switching one out and the other in,” Mr Mark says.

Only a few Maori landowners will benefit from the deal the Government did to win Maori Party support for the ETS, which could allow iwi to plant forests on conservation land for carbon credits.

THREE STRIKES BILL PASSED TO DETRIMENT OF MAORI

The introduction of the Budget may have overshadowed the passing of the three strikes bill, but Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says the Sentencing and Parole Act will have a continuing impact on Maori long after the tax cuts are spent.

Ms Turei says says lawyers, social agencies, restorative justice workers and others in the system know the new law will sweep up disproportionate numbers of Maori because of the racist filters already in the system.

She says the National Government let the bill through to satisfy ACT and its own right wing, without looking at the wider consequences.

Ms Turei says the three strikes law shows the government has no commitment to justice, fairness or Maori issues.

MAORI TEEN TOP ELVIS INTERPRETER

Stephen Tihi-Koroheke admits there's not a lot of Elvis on his iPod, but the Waitomo teen has just been named New Zealand's top Presley impersonator.

The 18-year-old from Maniapoto and Tuhoe was encouraged to enter the national competition in Upper Hutt after his performance of an Elvis number on Maori Television's karaoke show Homai Te Pakipaki caught the eye of Memories of Elvis fan club member Jackie Bridges.

He says sequinned Las Vegas style jumpsuits aren't his thing, so he took to the stage as army-era Elvis.

Stephen Tihi-Koroheke will head to Queensland later this year to square off against 30 other Elvis tribute artists.

MONEY ON BUDGET FOR MAORI REINTEGRATION CENTRES

A prison rehabilitation advocate is congratulating Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples for winning funding for two new kaupapa Maori reintegration units for prisoners.

There's $19.8 million in today's Budget to build and operate the 16-bed Whare Oranga Ake units in Auckland and the Hawkes Bay.

Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment says it's a kaupapa Dr Sharples has pushed for 20 years, though it required him to become Associate Minister of Corrections to finally get his way.

“There is a potential to reduce offending if people are addressing their cultural needs. Clearly Pita has a framework to do that,” Mr Workman says.

While the units will cater for just 42 residents a year initially, the scheme could be expanded to 64 beds after a review in 2013.

SMALL BOOST FOR MAORI TOURISM

Maori tourism operators are welcoming a $4.5 million boost in the Budget for Maori tourism.

Kapiti Island Alive head John Barrett, the immediate past president of the Maori Tourism Council, says the sector has struggled for years.

He says it's good the government now recognises the contribution Maori can make to tourism, and it should be used to plan for the growth of the sector.


Other Budget measures include developing aa "Brand Maori" to gain premium prices for Maori exports, and support for a delegation of Maori business leaders to the World Expo in Shanghai.

POLITICIANS MISSING OUT ON TRIBUNAL EMOTION

Maori historian Ranginui Walker says government ministers would learn a lot by attending Waitangi Tribunal hearings.

Dr Walker, who sits on the tribunal, says the standoff between the government and Tuhoe over Te Urewera may not have happened if Prime Minister John Key had witnessed Tuhoe's evidence on its history of land confiscation and alienation.

He says the sort of evidence being put by claimants in the Ngapuhi hearings might also surprise politicians if they were to hear it.

Today's Budget includes $6.5 million to speed up treaty settlements by providing more resources for Crown negotiators, but nothing extra for the Waitangi Tribunal

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