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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Merata Mita gave vital support to storytellers

The world of Maori film and television is reeling from the death of director, writer and producer Merata Mita.

Ms Mita from Ngati Pikiao and Ngai Te Rangi, who made ground breaking documentaries on the Bastion Point occupation and the protests against the 1981 Springbok rugby tour, collapsed on the steps of Maori Television's Auckland headquarters yesterday and could not be revived.

Tainui Stephens, who worked with Ms Mita on the television news programme Koha, says after leaving New Zealand in the mid 1980s she supported and mentored other indigenous filmmakers around the world.

In the past couple of years she helped a new generation of filmmakers in her role as Pouwhakaruruhau or mentor for the Maori film development board Te Paepae Ataata.

“Whether it was a Maori language short film in Tuhoe country, of Taika’s feature Boy or up and coming scriptwriters who didn’t know if they had it or not, it was very comforting to know that Merata had returned home with the much that she knew to offer for the benefit of film and television Maori storytellers,” Mr Stephens says.


The new head of the Tertiary Education Commission has expressed regret for overseeing the demise of Maori trade training.

As former head of the Iwi Transition Agency and Te Puni Kokiri, Sir Wira Gardiner had to disestablish the schemes run by the former Department of Maori Affairs that produced thousands of Maori carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other trades people.

He says on reflection the schemes should have been stepped up as a shortcut to encouraging Maori achievement.

“You'd be foolish if you didn’t say there weren’t better things to do there weren’t better ways to do it and there weren’t more effective ways to get Maori from where they are, to lift them qualitatively on to that and I think trade training was a proven success,” Sir Wira says.

He will oversee the $3 billion annual the government spends each year on tertiary education.


A long serving member of the New Zealand Maori Council is backing calls for the body to be reorganised.

Maanu Paul says review of the select committee review of the 1962 Maori Community Development Act is throwing up some good ideas about how the 50-year-old organisation can become more relevant for Maori today.

He says in a new form the council could be the most effective ways to get resources from government to Maori communities, rather than through the current Ministry for Maori Development.

“Marae based, hapu-based operations need to become the focus of the New Zealand Maori Council. Such a focus should be enriched by the addition of the powers held by the TPK and of course the funding held by TPK,” Mr Paul says.


The trust which owns the land at the Bay of Plenty settlement of Little Waihi says evicting residents is a last resort.

Toby Curtis of Te Arawa Management, the commercial arm of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, says many of the buildings in the settlement are un-permitted and sub-standard, and their existence is a threat to the neighbouring estuary.

He says while the eviction notices issued to 29 lessees do seem harsh, the trust is prepared to be flexible.

“We will be sitting down as they have in the past with each family that is affected to see if we can negotiate our way through and see how we can come to an arrangement where the family isn’t going to be penalised or where the family might be disadvantaged,” Mr Curtis says.

It would be a major exercise to upgrade many of the homes to acceptable building standards.


Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia says funding should start flowing to the first providers by the end of July.

Expressions of interest will be called for after the the completion of hui explaining the new model for delivery of health and social services.

Mrs Turia says there has been massive attendance at the hui from Maori providers who want given the chance to do things in a different way.

“They're excited because it means they’ll have integrated contracts, they’ll be able to work far more comprehensively that they’ve ever been allowed to do and they think that will make their work far more interesting but more importantly they will be able to see the real change that they have been seeking,” Mrs Turia says.

She's encouraging providers to join together to pursue the Whanau Ora contracts.


The new head of the Tertiary Education Commission is promising to make whatever changes he finds necessary to the way the sector spends $3 billion a year.

Sir Wira Gardiner past brushes with the education sector have included a long involvement with Ngati Awa's Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, a brief spell as Crown observer on Te Wananga o Aotearoa and being brought in last year as commissioner for Hamilton's troubled Fraser High School.

The former soldier says the Government needs to know it is getting the best band for its buck.

“I suppose within about three months I will have a pretty good idea of where I think we should go. In this case it’s a question of talking to the minister, talking to the commission, and either supporting the direction that’s going or if there needs to be a change, I’m not unhappy to make those suggestions,” Sir Wira says.


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