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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mereta Mita taken home

Trailblazing Maori filmmaker Merata Mita was this morning taken back to Pukehina Marae in the Bay of Plenty.

Ms Mita, from Ngati Pikiao and Ngai Te Rangi, died suddenly in Auckland on Monday.

Her body lay in state overnight at the meeting house Tumutumuwhenua on Bastion Point, the scene of her first documentary.

Ngati Whatua kaumatua Joe Hawke told the tangi he believes the presence of Ms Mita's camera on the 507th and last day of the Bastion Point occupation protected the people there from police violence.

Claudette Hauiti, the deputy chair of Maori in film and television Nga Aho Whakaari, says Merata Mita challenged filmmaking conventions in a way which opened the door for other Maori and indigenous people to go through.

“She allowed a platform and a medium and a space for others to be able to tell their stories in their way and in their time as well too. Her ability to attach a story to the telling of those stories though, that’s what set her apart,” Ms Hauiti says.

Mereta Mita's funeral is at 11 on Friday morning in Pukehina.


The co-editor of a book on environment management is encouraging Maori to take a lead role in promoting conservation.

In Kaitiaki, Massey University lecturer Rachel Selby collects Maori perspectives on issues like climate change, pollution, pest control, and who sets policy.

She says too often Maori are forced to take action to protest local and regional council decisions because their rangatiratanga is ignored.

“Our role as rangatira and our relationship with the environment has been compromised but we never relinquished that willingly. In a way the government and the regional, local bodies have usurped that position and we have to keep telling them that we take that kaitiakitanga responsibility seriously and that we want to be involved,” Ms Selby says.

Kaitaki is published by Huia.


The first festival of Maori playwrights was kicked off this morning with a theatrical dawn powhiri this morning at Papakura's Hawkins Theatre.

Organiser Graeme Bennett says the month-long festival will give audiences the chance to see the work of the work of established playwrights Albert Belz and Briar Grace Smith alongside newcomers like as Whiti Hereaka.

There's also a 24 hour challenge in which teams of playwrights, directors and actors will write and stage 15-minute plays.

Mr Bennett says a trip to south Auckland over the month will be worth the effort.

“The shows we have programmed for the festival, we know they are of good quality, we’ve been through them, read the scripts, we’ve seen them in some cases. We hope that the general public, in particular Maori, trust us,” he says.


Iwi chairs working with the Government on an alternative to the Foreshore and Seabed Act have summoned all iwi to an urgent hui in Auckland on Friday.

Mark Solomon from Ngai Tahu says the aim is to get a national consensus on a replacement framework for coastal management.

He says the short notice was unavoidable.

“The attorney general is taking a proposal to Cabinet on Monday so we wish to put the final stages out to iwi for their view,” Mr Solomon says.

The hui is at the Ellerslie Event Centre from noon on Friday.


The Maori Party is making a last ditch effort to have the interests of mana whenua groups acknowledged by the Auckland super city.

Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene has put forward a supplementary order paper seeking to insert a Treaty of Waitangi clause into the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill.

She says it's unacceptable that local iwi have been excluded from a direct interest in a city encompassing such a large area and population.

“So we're definitely trying to find any way we can to get proper decision-making processes in there so that mana whenua are involved all the way through and not just as advisors in the mayor’s officer or in an advisory board or whatever you want to be but there sitting at the table as a representatives of your people,” Mrs Katene says.

National supported inclusion of a treaty reference in its Emissions Trading Scheme reform bill, so she hopes it will do so again when the SOP is debated tonight or tomorrow.


Kahungunu Tourism is seeking Maori All Black photos and memorabilia for an exhibition to coincide with England's game against New Zealand Maori in Napier on June 23.

Chairperson Marie Edwards says the show at the iwi-owned company's new booking office and information centre on Napier's Marine Parade will celebrate 100 years of Maori rugby.

She says they've been inundated with historic items from around the Hawkes Bay, but are now looking for a national flavour.

Marie Edwards wants scans or reproductions rather than actual photos, before the exhibition opens on June 12.

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