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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inquiry brings tobacco harm to fore

The Maori Affairs select committee wraps up its hearings into the tobacco industry in Wellington today.

Submissions have come from health workers, tamariki who lost parents, and even a kaumatua who brought in the heart he had removed because of damage caused by his addiction.

Auahi kore campaigner Shane Bradbrook from anti smoking group Te Ao Marama says the nine-month inquiry has drawn unprecedented attention to the issue.

“We've seen major Maori leadership on an issue which Maori had to do something about because one in fur smoke. The recommendation from probably 97 percent of submitters who spoke, including iwi, was rid of it,” Mr Bradbrook says.

CLUSTER HOUSING DEVELOPMENT IN AHIPARA PLANNED

Far north iwi Te Rarawa has won consent to build an ambitious cluster housing development at Ahipara.

Chairperson Haami Piripi says the iwi wants to create an environment suitable for whanau who want to live in a communal setting and share child raising responsibilities.

He says the project, which is part-funded by Housing New Zealand's housing innovation scheme, is being built on general land so the iwi can identify any obstacles before it builds similar pa kainga on multiply-owned Maori land.

“We've identified the site. We’re in the process of obtaining it. We’ve got the resource consent even though there were numerous objections by local non-Maori residents. Housing Corporation will make their contribution, we’ve made our contribution, and we wiulls tart building at the beginning of summer,” Mr Piripi says.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAORI IN CRI RESEARCH

The new chair of Plant and Food Research wants to see Maori enterprises make more use of government-backed research.

Michael Ahie from Ngati Ruanui and Nga Rauru is the first Maori to head a Crown research institute.

He says with 360 scientists doing research in horticulture, arable crops and seafood, there should be plenty of opportunities for the $18 billion Maori primary sector to tap into.

“It's very important for New Zealand that we invest in high quality research for all New Zealand and the Maori sector with the investment and assets we’ve got, being able to leverage that, it’s a powerful contribution I’m very excited about,” Mr Ahie says.

He previously held executive roles with the Dairy Board and PGG Wrightson.

REEVES URGING LOWER TOLERANCE FOR BOOZE

Te Atiawa elder Sir Paul Reeves is leading a group of distinguished New Zealanders calling for a review of the liquor laws.

The former governor general says the Law Commission's report on the issue offers a once in a lifetime chance to dial back the major liberalisation of the 1980s and 90s.

He says excess consumption of alcohol, especially by young people, runs counter to Maori efforts to foster social and economic development.

“We're on the road and beginning to move towards our goals and achieve things and we don’t want to be let down by people who under the influence of alcohol do things which not simply they regret but which we all regret so we re wanting to somehow harness the potential within our people and unfortunately and unfortunately undue consumption of alcohol has let us down,” Sir Paul says.

HIGHER RATE OF TESTICLE CANCER IN MAORI MEN

A new study has found Maori men more likely to get testicular cancer than Pakeha.

Lead researcher Dr Diana Sarfati from Otago University's Wellington school of medicine says nationally the disease hits about 165 men a year compared, to 2500 cases of prostate cancer.

She says the New Zealand findings run counter to overseas studies, and more research is needed to explain the difference.

“Maori men have about 50 percent more testicular cancer than European men in New Zealand. This was surprising because in pretty much every other developed country, it’s wealthy white men that tend to have the highest rtes of testicular cancer,” Dr Sarfarti says.

The disease tends to strike young men, but 95 percent of cases are cured.

MAF REVIEWING KAHAWAI CATCHABILITY AND CARVE UP

Fans of the feisty kahawai have a chance to have their say on how the species should be managed.

The Ministry of Fisheries has released a discussion paper setting out options ranging from raising the commercial quota, which currently stands at about 40 percent of the total allowable catch, or leaving more for recreational and customary fishers.

Leigh Mitchell, the ministry's inshore fisheries manager, says the fishery is in good heart.

“The Kahawai One fishery, the largest fishery we have, is considered to be healthy. Out science tells us it’s above the target level in terms of stock size. So the options we’re talking about aren’t because of the sustainability issue. The questions are, do we want to maximise yield from this fishery or do we want to increase non-commercial catchability,” Ms Mitchell says.

Given the importance of kahawai to Maori, she expects a lot will have their say during the six-week consultation process.

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