Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Board mill workers hope toxin battle over

A predominently Maori group of former Whakatane Board Mill workers believe the Ministry of Health is about to recognise their claims they were poisoned.

Spokesperson Joe Harawira says the 200 workers were exposed to the toxins used to treat timber at the mill, leaving many unable to work.

He says it has taken the 20 years since the mill closed to convince people the chronic illnesses they were suffered were caused by their mahi.

“We had to go out and connive our community, more importantly our hapus of Ngati Awa ki Whakatane. We managed to bring the whole community of Whakatane in and around to support us,” Mr Harawira says.

He says the workers are hoping for a compensation package that includes continuing health care not only for themselves but for their children and families.


Former Labour cabinet minister John Tamihere says he's sick of public agencies feeding on Maori misery.

The head of West Auckland social service provider Waipareira Trust told a welfare forum yesterday that prisons feast off repeat customers and many schools are good care providers but fail to educate their students.

He says the Waipareira Trust aims to become a Whanau Ora provider so it can challenge under-performance in areas like Education and Corrections.

We've got 93 schools over here. We’ll make them honest. It will happen, not by working with them, because they know all and they know how to cruch yu into the walls. It will happen because we will put in alternative systems together that show them to be poor performers and they should not be recipients our children and the money our children bring to them,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says Whanau Ora minister Tariana Turia is a little bulldog who is shaking up an entrenched system.


The Shanghai world trade Expo has given musician Elena Te Ngahu a chance to reach an audience of millions.

The Ngati Kahungunu violinist's performance during the opening ceremony caught the eye of the Shanghai Audio and Video Publishing House, and she's back at the New Zealand pavilion today launching a compilation drawn from her previous CDs.

She's also adding a cultural dimension, along with four-member kapa haka group Tumeke, to a delegation of Wellington businesses traveling to Shanghai, Beijing and Xiamen, and says it all helps build her profile.

Shanghai Audio and Video is also interested in recording her with traditional Chinese instruments.


Otago University researchers have been given $1.2 million by the Health Research Council to look at ways to reduce the high rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome among Maori babies.

Lead researcher David Tipene-Leach says he and professor Barry Taylor will study factors like breast feeding rates, sleep duration and bonding between mother and infant.

They will also assess use of the wahakura, the woven flax basket introduced three years ago to ensure separation between parents and baby sharing a bed.

Dr Tipene-Leach says they will compare how the wahakura stacks up against the bassinet, rather than whether it stops cot death.

“You'd need 15,000 babied enrolled into each arm of (randomized control trial) and we just can’t do that. We’re doing the second best thing and using a methodology that allows us to look at the safety and the benefit or the harm of the wahakura by comparing it to the bassinet,” Dr Tipene-Leach says.

About 30 of the 50 babies who die each year from SIDS each year are Maori.


Former associate education minister Parekura Horomia is defending teachers from a charge they are solely to blame for Maori educational underachievement.

Waipareira Trust head John Tamiher, a former Labour MP, has told the Government's Welfare Working Group that schools are good at child care but not educating Maori children.

Mr Horomia says there are many reasons Maori kids don't do well at school.

“I think it’s more of a class thing where some people have more opportunities. Well off kids in this country end up being very well educated so it is about poverty cycle at times and it is about people on lesser incomes and lesser benefits who struggle to even keep their kids at school,” Mr Horomia says.

He says Mr Tamihere's support for some of the government's more right wing policies won't help Maori in the long term.


The stars of the Maori screen are coming out for Matariki.

New Zealand On Screen has posted a new selection of Maori film, television, and music videos on its web site to mark the Maori new year.

The organisation's Maori advisor, veteran broadcaster Whai Ngata, who a fascinating selection of material is gradually being digitised and streamed on the site.

Among the new items on the site are excerpts from Taika Waititi's hit film Boy, the Patea Maori Club's Poi E clip, a maori mind episode of children's programme Playschool, and a Koha documentary on filmmakers Barry Barclay and Merata Mita.


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