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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, May 14, 2010

Treaty talks rush to folly

Wednesday May 12

An experienced treaty claims lawyer is calling for the whole treaty settlement framework to be reviewed.

Rotorua-based Annette Sykes says negotiations between the Crown and Tuhoe stumbled yesterday because of the National Party's agenda which is based on haste not justice.

“Everybody is trying to do everything as fast as they can to meet this nominated National Party timeframe of 2014 which in my view is an ambitious foolishness and is now leading to unjust and untransparent and treaty decisions that are inconsistent with the principles of that have been built on by successful claimants like Ngai Tahu and Tainui,” Ms Sykes says.

She says the National Party is hell bent on hurrying the treaty process so that it can privatise minerals largely found in national parks.

At the same time it wants to exploit parts of the offshore seabed for petroleum, coal and gases and make them available for third parties.


Scientists from around the world have gathered in Wellington this week to improve understanding of an energy source likely to be the subject of ownership debate between Maori and the crown.

They are taking part in a three-day conference about naturally forming ice-like lumps that contain high concentrations of methane gas... known as Gas Hydrates.

While the amount of gas hydrates off New Zealand's coast is not known, initial studies suggest that there's are substantial deposits off the east coast of the North Island.

Stuart Henry, a Marine Geophysicst at GNS Science says there's no offshore commercial production of gas hydrates yet but the potential is there as oil and gas supplies run out.

He says Maori need to be involved in all aspects of the debate around Gas Hydrates, including the environmental risks involved.


Strong showing from a quartet of Maori artists provides some of the highlights of teh 17th Sydney Biennale which opens today.

In putting together the giant show on the theme of The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, curator David Elliott made a point of including indigenous artists not only from Australia but from Aotearoa, Canada and other countries.

Walking into the Museum of Contempopary Art in Circular Quay, the first thing visitors encounter is Te Hokioi, a customwood model of a stealth bomber covered in whakairo, and Mihaia, a near full scale Russian scout car carved in similar fashion.

Up the stairs one room is dominated by Ngai Tahu artist Fiona Pardington’s photographs of life masks taken during Dumont d’Urville’s voyages – including two Ngai Tahu chiefs.

Heads and birds also feature in three large paintings by Shane Cotton fromn Ngapuhi.

Over on Cockatoo Island, a former prison and naval engineering works, Reuben Patterson from Ngati Rangitihi has transformed a shabby warden’s cottage into a temple of glitz with his shimmering op art paintings.


The executive director of Nursing at the Auckland District Health Board says a development programme launched last week adds strength to a push to have more Maori in the health workforce.

Taima Campell says Nga Manukura helps Maori identify career pathways in the health sector, and compliments the secondary school programme Kia Ora Hauora which works to attract more Maori to work in health.

She says the scheme will grow the Maori health workforce by looking at about 40 emerging leaders, seeing what can help them in their current roles and to move into new roles.

She says international nurses day is a chance to reflect on the important role nurses have in New Zealand communities.

A Maori constitutional lawyer says Ngapuhi settlements hearings which got underway at Waitangi this week will be absolutely critical for the Nations future.

Annette Sykes says over the four weeks og hearings Ngapuhi will be raising fundamental legal issues which have not been aired since the Muriwhenua claim of 1988.

She says the Crown is pitting its English text interpretation the Declaration of Independence of 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840 based on Greek, Latin and English common law principles against tikanga drawn from around the Pacific.

“There a difference of understanding, It’s the same thing that has been in the heart of treaty jurisprudence for decades - how do we deal with the fact of the Maori sourced as it is in the tikanga o te Moananui a Kiwa as against English Common Law principles incorporated here not by consent but by imposed proclamations in the 1860s,” Ms Sykes says.

She says Ngapuhi tohunga are to be congratuated for keeping understanding of New Zealand’s fundamental constitutional documents alive.


With New Zealand Sign Language Week last week the CEO of the Kelston Deaf Education Centre says sign language is growing and embracing te reo.

Every year the initiative raises awareness for the more than 20 thousand New Zealanders who are hearing impaired, with half of those people identifying as Maori.

Chief executive David Foster says many Maori acquire deafness mainly from the condition glue ear.

He says the hearing school focuses on equal learning rights for students so sign language is able to evolve over time.

“So there are specific signs, aroha for greeting on to the marae, a sign for marae, all these sorts of things come into the language so where deaf people are in an environment where te reo is the dominant language, that can be signed,” Mr Foster says.

Maori parents need to take their children to the doctor immediately if they don't respond to loud noises.


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