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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tobacco sale ban call gets ministerial tautoko

Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Party leader Pita Sharples has put his weight behind a call from Otago University researchers for tobacco sales to be phased out by 2020.

In a paper published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal, a team led by Dr Tony Blakely said ending tobacco sales in 10 years would add five years to Maori life expectancy by 2040.

Dr Sharples says with almost 50 percent of Maori now smoking, it's the most effective way to reduce Maori mortality and ethnic disparities.

“I’m 100 percent behind that drive and I do believe him, that there are things like smoking that we just do and it complicates so many illnesses later on in life and it backfires on us, so yes, lot of truth in that,” Dr Sharples says,

He says while the current ant-smoking battle is focused on price rises and banning displays, ways must be found to make smoking unacceptable in Maori society.


The head of Tainui's commercial arm says while iwi are ideal candidates to participate in public private partnerships, they can't do them on their own.

Finance Minister Bill English says crown agencies must now look at the PPP option for all infrastructure projects over $25 million.

Mike Pohio from Tainui Group Holdings says many post-settlement iwi already own assets they lease back to the Crown, but an added layer of due diligence will be needed for the sort of new builds Mr English is talking about.

“We have a certain amount of financial capacity as an investor. What we need to do is have a strategic partnership with a builder, a strategic partnership with an operator if an operator is required and somebody that can help us through that initial process of ensuring the right drivers are in place for the contractual arrangements between the private sector provider and the Crown's requirements,” Mr Pohio says.

He says a consortia of iwi might get together to build infrastructure.


A mega-Matatini is on the cards as the order of performance has been set for the 42 teams in next February's Maori performing arts festival in Gisborne.

Organising committee member Willie Te Aho says last year's top three teams, Te Waka Huia, Whangara mai Tawhiti and Te Kapa Haka o Te Whanau a Apanui are spread across the three pools, reducing fears of a pool of death emerging.

But many of the teams may find the pool days a rehash of their regional competitions.

“For regions like Tairawhiti we’ve got six teams, three teams in the first pool and three in the second, rather than an even spread and also I see Te Arawa have four of their teams in the last pool. That’s not a big issue. When teams go there to compete they go there to win and it doesn’t really matter where you’re placed, you’ve got to beat everyone to win,” Mr te Aho says.

Te Matatini will be a marathon for judges, with 14 teams to grade each day and then nine in the finals.


Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says iwi-involvement in public private partnerships may eventually lead to jobs for Maori, but in the short term it won't affect the high Maori unemployment rate.

He says the Government's announcement public private partnerships must be considered for state sector projects worth more than $25 million opens the door for iwi to exercise their growing economic muscle.

“The opportunities are great and we are standing at the threshold of a boom in terms of our iwi involvement in that industry and jobs will flow and that’s the contradiction, that whole this money is being invested in these joint ventures to create capital and jobs, at the moment jobs aren’t available and people are looking to their iwi to say, what about us,” Dr Sharples says.

He says there is no magic formula for creating jobs, but he has been investing in developing Maori entrepreneurship and training Maori to work on infrastructure projects.


The head of Otago University's Christchurch-based Maori health team says new research shows Maori are seeing their doctors more than previously believed, but they are not always asking for the right treatments.

Director Suzanne Pitama from Ngati Kahungunu will use the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation open day on Sunday to update the public on a major study of Maori heart health.

She says there are differences from other ethnic groups such as higher levels of cholesterol, but general practitioners don't always ask the right questions of their Maori patients.

“Each time we go to the doctor, even if it’s for an injury or one of our vaccinations, as a Maori community we should be actively asking and demanding form our general practitioners that we undertake and have the opportunity to have the screening for cardiovascular disease to ensure that we are diagnosed and managed,” Ms Pitama says.

Final results of the heart study are due out early next year.


Work by members of northern Japan's indigenous Ainu community will be shown alongside work by Ngai Tahu artists and craftspeople at a show opening at the Otago Museum tomorrow.

Clare Wilson, the museum's exhibitions director, says it celebrates the 30th anniversary of Dunedin's sister city relationship with Otaru on Hokkaido.

She says most of the Ainu works are traditional tapestries, while the Ngai Tahu contribution includes jewelry, textiles, wood, paintings and sculpture which puts a contemporary spin on tradition.

The exhibition runs until November


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