Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, August 23, 2010

Preferential voting against minority

Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says the hung election across the Tasman shows the benefits of proportional representation to minority interests like the Greens and Maori.

She says the Australian Green Party look like being in the box seat to decide who forms the next government because while it won just 1 seat in the lower house, the preferential voting system gave it nine in the senate, which must approve all legislation.

She says if the New Zealand mixed member proportional system was in use, the Greens 12 percent share of the overall vote would have given it 16 of the 150 seats in the lower house.

“Preferential voting will be one of the options put to voters here at the next election for the MMP referendum. The Australian election shows how systems that aren’t proportional do really badly for around a million voters whose votes don’t count in the Australian elections,” Ms Turei says.

She is picking a Labor-Green coalition because of the Green's power in the senate.


Today's Human Rights Commission Diversity Forum in Christchurch heard a plea from the race relations commissioner for local authorities to include Maori at a governance level.

Joris de Bres says that will help New Zealand become a place that respects and accounts for a diversity of interests.

He released a discussion paper challenging councils to act and questioning the way the super city seats were decided.

“It's based on the debate about Maori seats on the new Auckland council, the success of the Maori seat option in the Bay of Plenty and a survey we’ve done on all local authorities and regional councils as well as a look at the whole history of the business,” Mr de Bres says.

Raewyn Bennett from Environment Bay of Plenty told the Forum that Maori representation has advanced the interests of both Maori and the wider community and it was not something to be feared.


Otago University health researchers are attributing a steady decline in the rate of lung cancer in Maori men to a reduction in smoking.

The report by the Eru Pomare Maori Health Research Centre at the Wellington School of Medicine found Maori lung cancer deaths dropping on average 5 percent a year over the 11 years of the study.

But centre director Bridget Robson says Maori are still dying of lung cancer at three times the rate of non-Maori, and more needs to be done.

“We need to make a real effort to get our smoking rates down and we would support the move the reduce the sales of tobacco by 2020 and it’s really important to provide an environment that supports young Maori to remain smokefree, preventing visible sale of cigarettes in dairies and those sorts strategies,” she says.

Maori cervical cancer rates were dropping 11 percent a year as screening programmes have an effect.


Mystery surrounds the final resting place of Parihaka Peace festival director Te Miringa Hohaia after family members took the tupapaku from the historic marae in the middle of the night for burial somewhere on Mount Taranaki.

Taranaki iwi spokesperson Peter Moeahu says the move came as a shock to the hundreds of people who turned up for the funeral on Saturday morning.

But he says there was a traditional basis to the family's actions, and it should not matter to mourners that Mr Hohaia's physical presence was gone.

“It's said that they come to pay their last respects and farewell the deceased but spiritually the deceased is already gone so what remains is the empty shell, if that is there at all. And of course in this case with Te Miringa it wasn’t which I thought just added to the mystery of the man and the interest of the occasion,” Mr Moeahu says.


The authors of a new book on the Waikato River hope will help Tainui take up co-management of the awa with the Crown and local authorities.

Lead editor Kevin Collier presented The Waters of the Waikato to King Tuheitia during the annual coronation commemoration at Turangawaewae Marae on Friday.

It updates two previous versions from 1971 and 1981.

Dr Collier, who works for both Waikato University and Environment Waikato, says knowledge of the country's largest river has increased significantly over the years, and the book brings together the work of 48 contributors including representatives from river iwi and hapu.

“Long term if we can help in some way to raise awareness of ecological issues and values in the river and inform and engage people in the future wise management of the river, I think the book will achieve a lot if it can achieve those goals,” Dr Collier says.

Waikato University postgraduate and postdoctoral students will use The Waters of the Waikato as the basis for further research.


A Maori tourism company will share its secrets with other indigenous operators at a hui in the United States next month.

Ron Mader from Planeta.com, who runs the Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Awards, says this year's people's choice award winner, Auckland-based Time Unlimited Tours, is a leader in culturally and environmentally sustainable tourism.

He says the way it wraps Maori history and contemporary issues into its tours of Tamaki is what many tourists are looking for.

“It's not big groups. It’s the smaller individual face to face trips, taking people with permission onto marae and just letting people hang out a bit. It’s not so much the big show or the big dance. It’s more kind of understanding the Maori as they are today and we’re seeing that sort of tour sort of emerge around the world,” Mr Mader says.

Another Maori venture, Te Urewera Treks, will also take part in next month's Biodiversity Workshop in Portland, Oregon.


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