Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maori women's unemployment shocks Goff

The Maori Women's Welfare League conference in Gisborne has heard from Labour leader Phil Goff that unemployment among wahine Maori is reaching crisis levels.

Mr Goff says the League needs to challenge the Government about why the jobless rate for Maori women is three times the national average, and one in two teenage Maori girls don't have work.

“That's a human, that’s a social, that’s an economic disaster to have so many of our young Maori girls and women not in work, not able to work, and it’s going to take a lot more than Paula Bennett waving a big stick and saying she is going to force people into work to try to create employment there. If there aren’t job opportunities, people can’t be employed,” he says.

Phil Goff says the previous Labour Government had good relationships with the league that he wants to maintain while in Opposition.


A former Maori vice president of the Council of Trade Unions says her union work will stand her in good stead if she wins the South Waikato mayoralty.

Sharon Claire from Ngati Raukawa says the region, which takes in Tokoroa, Putaruru and Tirau, is a microcosm of what New Zealand will one day look like.

It's dependent on forestry and farming, and has a high Maori and Pacific population and a wide spread of incomes.

Ms Claire says there are significant environmental issues where a Maori perspective will be valuable.

“We're in the middle of the river co-management so everything I know politically from my experience, knowledge within the Council of Trade Unions and policy work at central government level has really shaped and molded me for this job,” she says.

Ms Claire is up against incumbent Neil Sinclair, a former dentist, and Tokotoa radio station owner Johnny Dryden.


A Dunedin ecosanctuary, the Department of Conservation and two South Island runanga have joined together to save the most endangered kiwi species.

Neville Peat, who chairs the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, says only about 350 Haast Tokoeka remain in their South Westland habitat.

Three or four breeding pairs will be moved to a predator-proof enclosure in the sanctuary, with the help of the south Westland and Karitane runanga.

Mr Peat, who is the author of three books on kiwi, says the last sighting of the bird in Dunedin was 1872, when a dog killed two little spotted kiwi.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the battle against obesity is one reason his party is promising to take GST off fresh fruit and vegetables.

Mr Goff says he is shocked by new figures reported in the Economist magazine showing New Zealand is the third fattest nation, with one in four children deemed overweight before they even start school.

He says Labour supported Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene's attempted to removed the tax from healthy food, but the Maori Party seems to have had a change of heart since that bill was voted down by National and ACT at its first reading.

“Tariana attacked my proposal yesterday but then she and the Maori Party voted for National’s 15 percent GST so she can’t have it both ways,” Mr Goff says.


The Greens Maori affairs spokesperson, Metiria Turei, says South Taranaki District Council's attempt to hand a water scheme to a group of farmers flies in the face of national efforts to design fairer ways to allocate and manage fresh water.

The council is backing a private bill by Whanganui MP Chester Borrows that would allow the transfer of the $11 million scheme near Opunake to 162 farmer users.

The region's iwi say the council hasn't consulted properly, and the sort of co-management principles identified in last week's report from the Land and Water Forum show how the issue has moved on from when the transfer was first mooted a decade ago.

Ms Turei says the council is behaving like the bad old days.

“For ignoring Ngati Ruanui at this point, after their settlement they are really strong iwi, they know what they are doing, they are part of that community so to shut them out of the process like that is just disgraceful,” Ms Turei says.


Young Maori and Pacific Island women are leading the way in the uptake of the HPV vaccination which guards against a virus which causes cervical cancer and genital warts.

Pacific Island Affairs minister Georgina Te Heuheu says its most encouraging that 70 percent of Pacific girls aged 14 to 18 and 57 percent of Maori girls have now received the free Gardasil shots, compared with a national average of 52 percent.

She says that will have positive long term effects on public health.

“Pacific and Maori women have been twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as other women so their risk of Dying from the illness is more than twice that for other ethnicities, so I guess there has been an extra focus on getting the vaccine to these usually hard to reach communities,” Mrs Te Heuheu says.


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