Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Health help for Whakatane mill workers

The Greens are welcoming the announcement of a support package for former Whakatane Board Mill workers who were exposed to the toxin pentachlorophenol or PCP.

Under the deal announced by the Health Ministry in the Bay of Plenty town today, workers who were in the job for at least a year back in the 1970s and 80s will get special access to the health system including primary mental health services.

Greens co-leader Metitia Turei says the party has supported the Sawmill Workers Against Poisons group since the 1980s, and it's good their concerns have finally been acknowledged.

“There was of course that big investigation and report about Paratutu on the other side of the island but they never took the same kind of notice to what was going on in Whakatane and it was always my concern that was always a concern of mine that it was a predominantly Pakeha population in Paratutu and a predominantly Maori population in Whakatane and why weren’t they being treated the same,” she says.

Ms Turei says because PCP can find their way into the food chain, it's good that the package includes research on inter-generational effects.

FEW LIKELY TO WIN CUSTOMARY RIGHTS CLAIMS

Prime Minister John Key says the proposed reform of the Foreshore and Seabed Act will offer real change, even if only a few iwi and hapu are likely to benefit.
Labour leader Phil Goff has called the reform a con because the tests for customary rights remain the same.

Mr Key says there is no question the test will be met by iwi like Ngati Porou and Te Whanau a Apanui on the East Coast, which have already negotiated conditional settlements.

They will get a title acknowledging their mana and the right to extract minerals like sand and gravel, but not allowing the land to be sold.

“Customary rights will be a lot easier to achieve. Ultimately customary title is not necessarily going to be easier to achieve because you have to exclusive use and occupation since 1840, but as I’ve said to a number of groups, it’s not the government’s job to necessarily make the tests easier. It’s to make the process fairer and I think in that regard we've done that,” Mr Key says.


DANCERS WELCOMED FOR KOWHIRI FESTIVAL

Kai kanikani and choreographers from around the country were welcomed in Wellington today for the Kowhiri Festival of Maori contemporary dance.

The four day event, which is part of Matariki celebrations at Te Papa museum, includes performances, workshops, lectures and dance films.

Dancer and teacher Tanemahuta Gray says it's an opportunity for choreographers to see the new dancers coming through from places like the School of Dance and Whitireia Polytechinic, which is presenting a bracket at the Te Papa marae before heading off on its annual tour to folk festivals in Coatia, Slovenia and Germany.

He says Kowhiri is a chance to see the work of Maori artists whose work is often overlooked on the mainstream dance festival circuit.

MARAE YOUTH COURTS RECONNECTING WHANAU IN STRIFE

A Tauranga district court judge says marae-based youth courts are forcing whanau to reconnect with their rangatahi who have gone off the rails.

Judge Louis Bidois will oversee a monthly youth court session at Owae Marae in Waitara.

That brings the total number of marae holding sessions to five, with Orakei launching its service yesterday.

He says in the marae setting the offender is not alone.

“Too often we see a single parent, mother usually, appearing in support, no one else present, because it’s the youth court and usually because they’re too whakama to tell others about the trouble their child has been in or their youth has been in. By going to the marae, I see a real need for those single parent mothers and families to get family support because they are going to need it themselves,” Judge Bidois says.

Marae courts are used to oversee the accountability and rehabilitation processes agreed in the family group conference, which is held after the initial Youth Court appearance.




MAORI SMOKING STORY MAKING COUNTRY LISTEN

Prudence Stone, the director of the Smokefree Coalition, says the Maori focus of the select committee inquiry into the tobacco industry has proved to be a master stroke.

The committee is nearing the end of its hearing and will soon start finalising its report back to parliament.

Dr Stone says that report will get world attention, because Maori make such a poignant case study.

“They're an indigenous population and tobacco is written into the very story of their colonisation here in Aotearoa so the imperative to rid the whanau of tobacco is a passionate one for the storytellers of this inquiry and then an inspiring one for anyone listening and so New Zealand has started to listen,” Dr Stone says.

She says it's unfortunate the Maori smoking rate continues to rise while other New Zealanders are breaking the habit, which could indicate the success of the industry in targeting Maori.

BATTLE SITES UNDER THREAT FROM DEVELOPMENT

A leading archaeologist says New Zealanders need to think carefully about what parts of their past need to be protected.

Nigel Prickett has just completed an 18-month long project for the Department of Conservation cataloguing New Zealand War fortifications around the country.

He has also contributed a chapter to a book marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the taranaki wards, Contested Ground.

He says many battle sites are coming under pressure from development.

“I mean Waikato and Taranaki and the north and Bay of Plenty, these places are now coming under threat and it’s terribly important we make up our minds which are the really important ones and we make sure they’re preserved for the future because they have got a big story to tell. There’s nothing like actually standing there where an event took place to make sense of it rather than just getting it out of a book,” Dr Prickett says.

He says people can't make sense of what's happening in Aotearoa today without knowing about the New Zealand Wars.

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