Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PM expects change without intervention

The Prime Minister expects the changing demographics of the New Zealand population to eventually be reflected in local government.

The fact Maori make up only 5.5 percent of elected local government officials, despite being 15 percent of the overall population, has raised concerns at this week's Local Government New Zealand conference.

John Key says tertiary education will be the gateway to community leadership roles for Maori.

“We're seeing much better participation rates of Maori for instance at school and universities and wananga and the likes and they’re doing better and I think the natural consequence of that is that they will assume management roles and leadership roles and we are seeing that in the state sector, some Maori coming through and doing really really well,” Mr Key says.

He doesn’t favour legislated incentives such as dedicated Maori seats on councils.


A Waikato University doctoral student is trying to find ways to convert oxygen weed that is clogging up parts of the Waikato River and the Rotorua lakes into energy.

Shane Carter has won a $107,000 Foundation for Sciences Te Tipu Putaiao Fellowship for the work.

The former waste management engineer says he's confident of developing an anaerobic process to turn the harvested weed into methane gas.

“It’s ideally suited to taking an iwi group that might have part of a river or a lake they are looking at managing that they can manage the invasive weed control and by making energy it either becomes cost neutral or it actually makes a profit and at the same time the gas can be used say to power a local marae or houses and supply a bit of employment,” Mr Carter says.

While his process may not lead to a total clean up of the lakes and river, it could go along way to solving the weed problem.


Labour MP Kelvin Davis says local and central government need to engage with Taitokerau iwi about their plans to open up parts of Northland for mining.

Hai taa Kelvin Davis o Reipa, kua tae ki te waa ki te hui tahi nga roopu whai paanga.


Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says New Zealand can follow the example of its Pacific whanaunga and restrict the sale of land to foreign buyers.

The party has a private members bill ready which seeks to restrict the sale of farm blocks greater than five hectare.

Ms Turei says Maori have been in the forefront of trying to stop the loss of significant sites, such as the protests over the sale Young Nick's Head or Nga Kuri o Paoa near Gisborne.

“If our land starts getting sold off more and more to overseas interests we just don’t have control over our own environment or our own economy. We can’t afford to lose that control. For Maori in particular it’s about retaining their land and also prioritizing Maori interests in land, and that was one of the issues around Nga Kuri o Paoa as well,” she says.

Ms Turei says the rules of the Overseas Investment Commission need to be tightened.


Maori Party leader Tariana Turia is expecting tough talk from the UN's top official on indigenous issues about Maori poverty and access to justice.

UN Special rapporteur James Anaya spent last week in the country talking to Maori groups and Crown ministers and officials.

Mrs Turia says while Professor Anaya was measured in his comments before he left, she is confident he won't shy away from highlighting the areas that need action.

“I know he has been stunned about the high Maori incarceration rate, poor health stats, poor educational achievement. One has to take responsibility for it. Those of us who are part of government, we are the ones that have to stand up and be counted on these issues,” Mrs Turia says.

She says third world living conditions are leading to unacceptably high rates of illnesses like rheumatic fever rates among Maori.


Still on that topic, Tuhoe activist Tame Iti says the iwi felt it had a good hearing from United Nations special rapporteur James Anaya about the Operation 8 terror raids and the prime minister's veto of part of its treaty settlement, and it hopes the Government will heed his eventual recommendation.

Hai taa Tame Iti o Tuhoe, kaahore he utu o te korero, kaahore he utu o te whakarongo:


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