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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sharples challenged to listen to teachers

Labour's associate education spokesperson says his Government counterpart should heed the concerns of the NZEI's Maori arm about the imposition of national standards.

About 200 Maori teaching in mainstream primary schools met in Rotorua this week and challenged the government's claim that the new testing regime will address Maori underachievement.

Kelvin Davis, a former intermediate school principal, says the teachers haven't condemned the standards out of hand, but they believe the system won't work in its current form.

“Pita Sharples being the associate minister of education, he needs to take a look at what 200 Maori educators are saying. They don’t think it’s going to be good for Maori kids. They’ve got a fair call that they should just trial them, in a group of schools, 50, 100 schools, trial them first, tinker with them to make sure they work well and them implement them across the country,” Mr Davis says.

He says the government doesn't have the mandate it claims for national standards, because it didn't develop them until after the election.


Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says a colony of weka in south Westland may have to die because the Government won't properly fund the Department of Conservation.

Tangata whenua have called for DoC to relocate the 100 weka off Open Bay Island, rather than cull them to stop them predating on the island's populations of lizards and nesting penguins.

Ms Turei says it's the sort of trade off the department is having to make more often.

“This minister and the government doesn’t prioritise conservation, and that makes most of the operations they do, they have to think very carefully about the cost,” Ms Turei says.


Ben Warren has a message that will sound like music to many Maori ... eating traditional foods like boil-up and hangi are good for you.

The Hawkes Bay health and fitness coach has been trialing his theory for the past 10 weeks on a group from Te Aranga Marae in Flaxmere.

They've cut out non-traditional foods such as refined grains but continued to eat the high protein and high fat kai of their ancestors.

Mr Warren says on average the 27 dieters lost 8.7 kg, with one dropping a staggering 16 kgs.

“The first week of the programme they pretty much ate boil up three times a day. They loved it and we had some of the best result that first week but for the rest we branched out into more westernized diets but essentially they were looking at vegetables, fruit and meat, so fats and protein,” he says.

Ben Warren was brought in to help Te Aranga Marae by former All Black captain Taine Randall, who has made Maori health a priority since moving back to the Hawkes Bay.


Taranaki's police prosecutor says research into differences in communication between Maori and Pakeha could improve the way police interact with Maori offenders.

A team from the New Zealand Institute of Language at Canterbury University is looking at how different groups use and interpret non-verbal cues like facial expression, posture and body language.

Senior Sergeant Malcolm Greig says when dealing with Maori, police can misconstrue actions like the hanging of heads or the refusal to talk, which may be an expression of whakamaa or shame.

“Some of our non-Maori diversion officers, they need to be aware of these factors, be more sympathetic and culturally aware of body language. Sometimes that can be misinterpreted as non-engagement with the diversion process,” Senior Sergeant Greig says.

In the past Maori haven't benefited as much as other groups from diversion, which gives first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid conviction.


The manager of Whangarei-based Ngati Hine Radio, Mike Kake, says holiday training will help fill a gap caused by staff moving into other areas of the media.

In conjunction with the New Zealand Radio Training School, the station is putting 10 Taitokerau students through the two-week course.

Mr Kake says the students, all fluent reo speakers, and being taught the basics of scripting, voicework, continuity announcing, copywriting and media law.


The Department of Conservation looking for someone to create a virtual representation of one of New Zealand's most famous battle sites.

Whangarei-based programme manager Sean Anderson says the department is working with the Ruapekapeka Pa Management Trust to raise the profile of the pa between Hikurangi and Kawakawa, which was created by Kawiti and Hone Heke as the set for a three-day battle in January 1846.

He says technology could reveal the pa's amazing construction.

“The engineering feat the Maori designed and implemented as a defence against British attack was the best of its time. It was reported by engineers back to England. People remarked on that. Basically it was trench warfare many many years before World War One. It was very innovative,” Mr Anderson says.

DoC holds a mass of geotechnical information which could be used to general 3D computer images.


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