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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, August 13, 2010

Iwi best partners for infrastructure investment

Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon has welcomed the Government's announcement that public-private partnerships need to be considered for any state sector infrastructure project costing more than $25 million.

In his role as a member of the Minister of Maori Affairs' Maori Economic Development Taskforce, Mr Solomon prepared a report on how iwi could invest in infrastructure.

He says iwi are building their commercial expertise and economic weight, and they are idea partners for government because they must take a longer term view than conventional companies.

“If you've got a long term outlook then you need partners or potential partners that have the same time frame and I would argue that Ngai Tahu’s perfect partners would be other iwi, Maori land incorporations, the Crown, local and territorial authorities and tertiary, because all of those other institutions have the same time frame as Maori, as iwi,” Mr Solomon says.

Iwi also have the advantage that they are not going to leave the country and they reinvest profits in their own areas.

FLAVELL WANTING TRADE TRAINING REDUX

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell wants the trade training schemes of yesteryear re-established to fight Maori unemployment.

The schemes disappeared with the demise of the Department of Maori Affairs in the late 1980s.

Mr Flavell says the Maori Party will take up the idea with the Minister for Tertiary Education, Stephen Joyce.

He says teaching young Maori skills is the way to get them off the dole queue, where one in six Maori now are standing.

“One of the great things about the scheme was it meant people lived together, they trained together, they supported each other, they had support mechanisms like dorm people to look after them, so it was a big package so while we support the notion of trade training as a concept it is actually a bigger picture about how we can expand it and make it even better than it was in years gone by,” Mr Flavell says.

EDUCATORS LOOKING AT SPIKE OF MAORI COMING THROUGH

Meanwhile, Maori tertiary educators are grappling with how they can cater for the growing numbers of young Maori.

About 300 of them are at a hui at Pipitea marae in Wellington organised by Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

Hui spokesperson Ngahiwi Apanui says over the next two decades the Maori population could grow at two to three times the general rate, placing special demands on educators.

“There's a huge population spike happening in the next 20 years and we have to be ready for when those tamariki or those taitamariki rangatahi are ready to move into tertiary training,” Mr Apanui says.

TOBACCO SALES BAN WOULD ADD YEARS ON LIVES

New research from Otago University shows Maori could expect to live about five years longer if tobacco sales were banned.

Professor Tony Blakely, who led the research reported in today's New Zealand Medical Journal, says phasing out tobacco sales by 2020 would be the single most important and feasible action to reduce Maori mortality and ethnic disparities.

Projecting the effect of the change out to 2040, non-Maori live expectancy would also rise by three years.

“So it' a huge win win. Everybody wins out of it and you see reductions in inequality, so we think it’s a very sensible thing to be doing,” Professor Blakeley says.

Just under 50 percent of Maori and 22 percent of the whole population smoke, directly resulting in up to 5000 deaths a year.

DIGITAL BOOKS CAUSE BUZZ AT SINGAPORE FAIR

A Maori digital media company expects international spinoffs from its participation in the Singapore International Book Fair.

Rhonda Kite from Kiwa Media says there was a lot of interest in its QBook Apple iPad application that allows books to be published with interactive elements and multiple choices of language.

The former Maori Businesswoman of the Year says digital publishing is still in its infancy, but Kiwa's experience dubbing television cartoons into Maori has given it a head start.

“We were one of the very few companies there exhibiting interactive digital books for children on the iPad device. We got a lot of very good feedback around that. We made CNN News, we got written up in the New York Times, so it’s very exciting for us,” Ms Kite says.

There are already 18 QBooks titles, including the first of Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclarey series and one of Huia Publisher's big sellers, Barnaby Bennett.

HAKA NOT TO BLAME FOR VIOLENCE IN RUGBY

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the haka should not be blamed for violence in rugby.

Organisers of the Roller Mills primary school rugby tournament in the Waikato next month have banned teams from doing haka because they say the young players can't cope with the strong emotions it stirs up.

But Dr Sharples says they're being ridiculous.

“Do not blame Maori haka for the violence in rugby. They see violence in rugby every weekend by bigger players than them. Perhaps it’s time we addressed that violence and stopped blaming things like the haka,” he says.

Dr Sharples says if it is taught properly, the kids will know the haka is not only a method of uniting the team but also of showing respect to the opposition team.

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