Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ignorance of history is bliss

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says a reluctance to face up to the past is behind the absence of Maori history from many schools' history classes.

Academics Peter Adds and Richard Manning have called for an inquiry into how schools are teaching, or not teaching, New Zealand and Maori history.

Mrs Turia says ignorance of the past allows people to say they can not be held responsible for what happened, even as they continue to benefit.

“You don't see the Maori families driving round in BMWs and living off the milk and money that is produced there in Taranaki. It is those descendants of those families generally who had that land passed on to them, and that land is raupatu land,” she says.

Mrs Turia says feelings still run high among Maori families whose land was taken almost 150 years ago.


Maori fishing company Sealord has taken a one third share in a new $23 million mussel processing plant in Tauranga.

The state of the art factory features New Zealand-designed automated mussel opening machines and will triple the country's mussel export capacity.

Peter Vitasovich, the chair of Aquaculture New Zealand, says the joint venture with his company ... Greenshell New Zealand ... and listed company Sanfords is an indication of the importance of Maori to the sector.

“Iwi now probably own 40 percent or it might even be higher of the aquaculture industry so it’s only going to grow in the future, particularly with any settlements hat might happen under the Aquaculture Settlement Act, so the involvement of iwi is going to only get stronger in the future,” Mr Vitasovich says.


Brothers Storm and Jade Uru have been honoured for combining sporting and academic achievement.

Storm Uru's victory with Peter Taylor in last year's world lightweight doubles sculls earned him the New Zealand University Maori Sportsperson of the Year award, as well as a university Blue for at the same time keeping up his grades for a masters degree in international finance.

Medical student Jade Uru, who is also national rowing representative, also picked up a Blue.

The brothers are competing in Europe, so their father Bill Uru collected their tohu at the annual university awards.

He says it's an achievement for any whanau to have a member performing at that level, and it’s even more amazing to have two sons winning golds and Blues.


A Canterbury University academic says an inquiry into the failure of secondary schools to teach Maori history could be an investment in good race relations.

Richard Manning from the School of Maori, Social and Cultural Studies says research both by himself and by the New Zealand History Teachers' Association indicates three out of four schools are avoiding or side-stepping the level one NCEA topic Maori and Pakeha from 1912 to 1980.

He says that's bad for both sides.

“The research of people like Professor Russell Bishop shows that if Maori kids can’t see themselves in the curriculum, it’s a major turn off for them, and I’d add this, that if non-Maori kids learn nothing about Maori, they can well grow up with a whole lot of inherited prejudices that go unchallenged, It’s just going to continue to sour our nation’s race relations,” Dr Manning says.

He says the Minister of Education should hold schools to account for their failure to teach the country's history.


A candidate for this year's local body elections in the Hawkes Bay says he's targetting non-Maori because they are more likely to vote.

Des Ratima is contesting the Heretaunga seat on the Hastings District Council.

He has chaired the council's Maori Joint Committee for the past six years, but says the Maori vote won't be enough to get onto the full council.

“I'm certainly working hard with our people to stand up and vote. Working just as hard with non-Maori to go to vote for me because I know they will go to the polls, fill in their application, and our people historically say to me after the vote ‘Gee I forgot all about it,’ and that’s a story I hear time and time again,” Mr Ratima says.

The council needs Maori representatives because of the important work that will comes over the next few years as Kahungunu treaty claims are settled, throwing the spotlight on many council-controlled resources.


Ngati Toa Rangatira and Ngati Tama are mourning Te Puoho Katene, ground-breaking composer and musical director who did much to bring Maori music to a wider audience.

Mr Katene died yesterday aged 83.

His nephew Selwyn Katene says he came from a family of musicians, composers and scholars.

He says his uncle's work in the 1960s with the New Zealand Opera Maori Chorus, and then later with the New Zealand Maori Chorale and other choirs gave people a love of song.

“Maori traditionalists weren’t enamored with his style but it was a style which was quite popular. It was focused on choral music, having people harmonise their voices to produce a lovely sound and that was a skill he had, not only writing the music but orchestrating a collective voice from quite ordinary people,” Mr Katene says.

Te Puoho Katene's tangi is at Takapuwhia Pa in Porirua, where he led many many choirs and designed much of the artwork.


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