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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ngati Manawa rangatira Bill Bird dies

The Minister of Treaty Settlements has paid tribute to Ngati Manawa chair Bill Bird, who died at the weekend after a long illness.

Negotiations between Chris Finlayson and the Murupara-based iwi through last year resulted in the signing of a deed of settlement in December.

The minister says Mr Bird was determined to achieve a settlement for his iwi, at great personal cost.

“My abiding memory of him is waiting to have a meeting with him in Rotorua at a hotel one afternoon late last year and he was in absolute agony. He’d got out of his bed to come into town and it took about 10 minutes for him to have the strength to get out of the car he was taken to the meeting in, and he was in absolute agony but his concerns for his iwi motivated him to do that,” Mr Finlayson says.

Legislation enacting the Ngati Manawa settlemement will be introduced to Parliament soon.

Bill Bird's tangi is at Rangitahi Marae in Murupara ends tomorrow.


Maori lawyer Moana Jackson says New Zealand's sleight of hand over the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been noticed by indigenous people overseas.

Sheryl Lightfoot, an influential Native American academic, has complained that New Zealand's use of the terms "aspirational" and "non-binding" represents a lack of commitment, and the president of British Columbia's union of Indian chiefs, Stewart Phillip, says limited support of the declaration threatens its integrity.

Mr Jackson says Prime Minister John Key's claim that the declaration would have no effect on what New Zealand does has upset people who fought for it over 20 years.

“They ignore the fact that it is an international human rights document, that human rights are a minimums set of standards are supposed to aspire to, so to sign it and say it makes no difference is really just a nonsense,” Mr Jackson says.


The life of an Irish ship-jumper who fought alongside both Hongi Hika and Hone Heke has been chronicled in a new book.

Author Trevor Bentley says Jacky Marmon, known as Cannibal Jack, was one of the more colourful Pakeha Maori to settle in the north before the Treaty of Waitangi.

As well as serving as a trader and taking on five wives, Jack fought in the musket wars and in Heke's 1845 Flagstaff war.

“He had been trained to fight rakau Maori by his chiefs but he established his reputation as a Pakeha toa or white fighting man with the flintlock muskets. Chiefs like Hongi Hika recogNised his potential as a marksman and a gunsmith so he took Jacky along with him on his great campaigns of destruction,” Mr Bentley says.

Cannibal Jack's story was one that couldn't be fully covered in his earlier bestseller, Pakeha Maori.


Auckland University law lecturer Valmaine Toki has been appointed to the United Nations permanent forum on indigenous issues for 2011 to 2013.

Eight members of the forum are elected by the UN's Economic and Social Council from candidates nominated by governments, and eight including Ms Toki are nominated by indigenous peoples’ organisations.

The appointment comes just weeks after New Zealand finally affirmed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.

Ms Toki, from Nga Puhi, Ngati Wai and Ngati Rehua, teaches contemporary Treaty and Maori Issues, and previously worked for Te Ohu Kai Moana on Maori fisheries, aquaculture and asset allocation issues.

Fellow lawyer Moana Jackson, who in the past served on the committee writing the declaration, says it's great to see a Maori in such a senior position, and Ms Toki should be given tautoko and support.


Labour leader Phil Goff says having a third of Maori boys not in work or education is a recipe for disaster for New Zealand.

Mr Goff says the Government is failing to provide viable alternatives for rangatahi who leave school early and can't get work.

He says right now 37 percent of 15 to 19 year old Maori boys are doing just that.

“That is absolutely unacceptable, we’ve got to have a situation where every one of our kids up to age 18 have got to be in school, education, some form of training, or in work. To have more than a third of our kids out of work and not in education, with time heavy on their hands, no aspiration, no hope, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Mr Goff says.


Musician Billy TK Junior is taking his road safety programme for rangatahi nationwide.

The bluesman developed his Driving Towards the Future programme five year's ago after a friend's 15-year-old daughter was severely injured while driving drunk.

He's already visited 60 schools, and says the combination of hard hitting international road safety ads and a 9-minute video of teenager Tamati Paul, left disabled after being hit by a drunk driver on the East Coast, is having an effect.

He encourages rangatahi not to drink, not to speed and to exercise peer pressure responsibly.


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