Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

$250,000 to investigate toxic sea slugs

The Hauraki Maori Trust Board says its involvement in an investigation of toxic sea slugs is part of its kaitiaki or guardianship duty.

Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the Maori centre for research excellence, is putting up $250,000 for the board to work with the Nelson-based Cawthron Institute into how the slugs have started storing tetrodoxin poison.

Policy manager Liane Ngamane says the iwi was made aware of the problem by the mysterious deaths of at least two dogs on Auckland beaches last summer.

“It caused us to ask some questions about it. Does this toxin only sit in sea slugs? Could it get into some kai that our people collect and the general community collects? So it just raised a whole lot of issues and as kaitiaki we felt and obligation to follow through on it,” Ms Ngamane says.

Hauraki will make the community is aware of any dangers it uncovers through the research.


A member of Pharmac's Consumer Advisory Committee says she is looking forward to bringing a Maori perspective to the government drug funder.

Moana Papa from Te Arawa is one of four new Maori members on the nine-member committee.

The south Auckland woman says a bout of rheumatic fever at age 10, which gave her heart problems, and a brush with breast cancer five years ago at age 32 has given her a deep respect for the value of medicines in maintaining health.

She has been an advocate at local level for access to medicine.

“I started up a breast cancer support group for wahine in south Auckland that had come through. We talk about medicines and different treatments so it kind of all happened through osmosis and just meeting with people and talking about just rongoa and all the different ways of improving your health with regards to accessing the medicines,” Mrs Papa says.

Other Maori appointed to the Consumer Advisory Committee include Maori Women's Welfare League life member Barbara Greer from Hokitika, tobacco control advocate Shane Bradbrook of Wellington and Te Arawa Health Board member Katerina Pihera of Rotorua.


Jimmy Cowan and Piri Weepu may be a potent combination sharing the All Blacks halfback slot, but commentator Ken Laban predicts the Whakatohea-Ngai Tahu number 9 will be first pick behind the scrum come next year's World Cup.

He says for now the selectors have the luxury of two distinct styles to send out onto the field.

"They favour Piri over Jimmy when it comes to ball playing and coming to the creating things in the game but when it comes to the early exchanges in the game. They see one as the athlete and the other as the footballer. They use the athlete to start the game and the footballer to finish it,” Mr Laban says.


Ngati Whatua chair Naida Glavish says the Social Development Minister's offer to give iwi more responsibility for looking after Maori children is an overdue reversal of policy.

Paula Bennett told an Iwi Leaders' Forum last week that there are 2227 Maori children in the care of Child, Youth and Family, and the iwi affiliations of most of them are known.

She wants to see those children with families, and iwi want them within whanau in their own hapu and iwi.

Ms Glavish says the minister seems to be reviving an initiative scrapped by a previous National government in the early 1990s.

“They did away with Maatua Whangai, who were successfully returning children back to their whanau who were in the marae, into the hapuu. We’re prepared to do tht and I’m prepared to work alongside of her to support iwi in the Taitokerau to work out how we can do it safely for those back home and for our mokopuna, for the children,” Ms Glavish says.

She wasn't impressed by Ms Bennett's suggestion that iwi should fund the scheme themselves.


Auckland super city mayoral candidate Len Brown is taking the race relations' commissioner's views on Maori representation to heart.

Joris de Bres told a Human Rights Commission diversity forum in Christchurch this week that he was concerned that only one local authority, Environment Bay of Plenty, had created Maori seats in the 10 years that councils have had to power to do so.

He recommended that the new Auckland council establish Maori seats as soon as possible, subject to endorsement by Auckland iwi.

Mr Brown says he wants to see Ngati Whatua, Tainui and Hauraki representatives around the table.

“Remember it’s only one vote around that table but I’ll be a strong one, that if we had appropriate designated representation for Maori, in the first instance I guess mana whenua and that’s been a pretty important debate, then that’s nothing to be afraid of. I think that will add value,” Mr Brown says.

He says not only do Maori play a strong cultural role in the city, they are increasingly a major economic force.


A Far North iwi has refused to allow autopsies on pilot whales which stranded on Karikari peninsula at the weekend.

Alan Hetaraka, the kaumatua for Te Whanau Moana and Te Rorohuri hapu, says scientists can take DNA from the whales, but the hapu did not want the mammals butchered.

“Out of respect to our whanau tohora we should intern them without any further disruption to them and treat them like our whanau, as of course they are, so we disallowed any dismembering of the animals,” Mr Hetaraka says.

The former marine biologist says it was a sad occasion for the iwi members present, but the scientists just seemed to be intent on getting their samples.


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