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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Whanau philosophy boosts learning

The developer of a programme to improve the way teachers interact with Maori students says a focus on whanau is changing the education system.

Principals and team leaders from the 50 schools involve in Te Kotahitanga are at the Tainui Endowed College in Hopuhopu this week picking up on new techniques and research.

Russell Bishop says a common thread coming through from programmes like te Kotahitanga, Auckland university's Starpath, and the Whaariki model in early childhood education is the importance of whanau or family relations in education.

“Teachers and children are not related by whakapapa but they are related in a whanau type sense where there is a high level of commitment and relationship between teachers and students. There’s lots of rights and responsibilities and commitments that go along with this,” Professor Bishop says.

He says the most successful schools using Te Kotahitanga are those who use the best programmes they can find to se clear goals for their students and their school.


Former Alliance president Matt McCarten says the government doesn't want Maori on the Auckland Super city council was because it knows iwi reps would oppose privatisation.

The third Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill as reported back to parliament this week will allow council controlled organisations to sell assets without needing the approval of the full council.

Mr McCarten says Maori see themselves as custodians for future generations, and would find it hard to sell community assets.

“That’s why they cant have us at the table. Because we won’t sell. And so that’s why Rodney Hide threatened to resigned if they had Maori councilors on the council, because if you have three Maori on the council, it’s probably enough to swing the council, no matter what the rest of them vote,” Mr McCarten says.

He says because so many national assets have been sold over the past two decades, pressure is coming on the holdings of local authorities.


Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is accusing iwi groups of naivete in their support for private management of prisons.

Iwi including Tainui, Ngati Whatua and Nga Puhi have investigated possible joint ventures with private prison operators in line with a government push to open the sector to competition.

Ms Turei says the multi-national companies likely to win such contracts are driven solely by profit, and it's foolish to think they share the Maori interest in rehabilitation.

“Some Maori organisations have thought it is easier to deal with these large multinational organisations than to deal with the state. The state can be very difficult to deal with, (but) these corporations don’t care for us. They have no obligation to Maori or the community and they are just here to make a buck. They are the wolves at the door and much more dangerous,” Ms Turei says.


The Maori Council has won permission to join in the Supreme Court appeal on whether milk processor Synlait or irrigator Central Plains Water should have priority to draw water from the Rakaia River.

Lake Waikaremoana claimant Vern Winitana and Trustpower have also been granted intervenor status in the case, which also involves the Ashburton Community Water Trust and Canterbury Regional Council.

Jim Nichols, the Maori Council's deputy chair, says it raises the same issues as last year's case between Central Plains Water and Ngai Tahu Properties, which was abandoned after the parties reached a deal.

He says the court wants to hear the Maori view on how the Treaty of Waitangi may apply when natural resources are allocated.

“If the Supreme Court recognizes the position that we are putting, it means that from a Maori perspective it doesn’t negate those who in a position of being first up and best dressed to make an application. What it does mean is that Maori who aren’t first up and best dressed aren’t disadvantaged in this process.” Mr Nichols says.


The Minister of Corrections says new Maori reintegrate units may be the first time some inmates have been asked to be part of their communities.

Two 16-bed Whare Oranga Ake units are being built at Hawkes Bay and Springhill prisons.

Judith Collins says Maori are more likely to return to prison than other offenders, so it's important to find ways to break the cycle.

“When we talk about reintegration or rehabilitation, we work on the premise that at some stage people have actually been habilitated or integrated into the community and what we do know is that for some people, they have never really been part of a normal part of society, going to work, looking after your children, all those sorts of things,” Ms Collins says.


Heavy rain in North Otago has set off a major rockslide blocking the entrance to one of the country's best known rock art sites.

Amanda Symon from the Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust says some of the drawings at Takiroa near Duntroon on State Highway 83 probably date back to the earliest Maori settlers in Aotearoa.

There are also post-contact drawings of boats and horses.

The cave has been fenced off in case more of the limestone outcrop comes down, but the rock art itself in the alcove seems quite safe.

More than 25,000 people a year visit Takiroa.


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