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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Minister misguided in abuse call

An academic who has made a study of child abuse says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's demand that iwi leaders take more responsibility for tackling abuse is based on false assumptions.

Ms Bennett last month asked iwi leaders to pay for initiatives she considered would help keen Maori children safe.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and Ethnic studies at Canturbury University, says Ms Bennett and newspaper columnist Fran O'Sullivan, who backed her call, are looking at child abuse and child homicide as a purely Maori problem.

He says only 28 of the 88 children who died as a result of domestic violence between1993 to 2003 were Maori.

“Forty eight of those deaths, 54 percent of them, were children who died in Pakeha homes. Now there is no parallel call out there saying ‘hey, the Pakeha community has to front up with cash to do something about Pakeha child homicide.’ Part of the root problem here is the way that the media and commentators like Fran O’Sullivan present this issue of child abuse as being a Maori-only problem. It’s a much wider problem than that,” Mr Taonui says.


Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson has slammed Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples for launching of New Zealand's rugby world cup campaign in Australia.

Dr Sharples and King Tuheitia officiated at a dawn ceremony at Sydney's Circular Quay this morning to open a giant inflatable rugby ball, which will show multimedia presentations about New Zealand until after the September 11 Bledisloe Cup test between New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Horomia says Dr Sharples went along with the plan, despite his lack of success in getting the Government to appoint a Maori ambassador for the cup.

“What we mustn't do is just continue to be the performers who poke their tongue out and slap their knees and keep everybody happy and worse still, give a false impression that our connection here is complete because it’s not,” Mr Horomia says.

It still grates him that Pacific island nations will be represented at the world cup in their own right while Maori will not be.


Meanwhile, Buck Shelford has given up waiting for the call to be a Rugby World Cup Ambassador ... and he's off to be an ambassador for ki o rahi instead.

The former All Black captain and his wife Joanne are traveling with the national ki o rahi squad to Europe.

Coach Harko Brown says games are lined up in England and France, where the traditional Maori ball game was learned from French soldiers who fought alongside the Maori Battalion members in World War 2.

“We've raised a pretty strong squad. We’ve had a few games around New Zealand with iwi teams. Buck agreed over a year ago to join us. He’s just passionate about ki o rahi, calls himself the ki o rahi ambassador, so who are we to argue with such a legend,” Mr Brown says.

The England game has been put together by the Saracens rugby club, where Buck Shelford coached after being dropped from the All Blacks.


The head of an expert panel reviewing Maori language initiatives says demographic forces may mean kohanga reo needs to change.

Tamati Reedy called a national language conference at Parliament yesterday to discuss what's needed to ensure the survival of te reo Maoi.

He says when the Maori language pre-schools were started in the early 1980s to start the revival of the language, there was still a pool of native speakers to call on.

“We had plenty of our kaumatua going into kohanga, providing good models of te reo. Now today, we have a different set. We’ve got those who were youngsters at that time, they are now the parents and there are fewer and fewer of those people who are competent in te reo going in to kohangas to implant the reo,” Dr Reedy says.

He says the successes in language revival has come from Maori-run initiatives like kohanga reo, so government spending should be directed and managed by Maori.


The Prime Minister say he wants to see more public-iwi partnerships like the Ngai Tahu joint venture which built a new home for Christchurch City Council.

The $113 million civic centre opened on the weekend, with the tribe's 50 percent stake giving it guaranteed revenues for years to come.

John Key says the government has a lot of infrastructure it needs to build, and around the world public private partnerships have become a popular way to fund such projects.

“It's a great win win for everyone. It’s great for everyone who wants to use those services. It’s also good for the Crown because we don’t have all the borrowing on our balance sheet and it’s good for the investor, in this case whether it’s Ngai Tahu or Tainui or others so I think you are going to see more of this, not just from iwi. You are going to see it from pension funds and specialist funds that will get set up that you and I can invest in if we want to,” he says.

Mr Key says the reason many New Zealanders have been caught in finance company collapses is because there is a lack of safe investment opportunities.


A group of rangatahi are on their way to South Africa to make a documentary for Maori Television about life in a township.

Producer George Andrews says it's the third in a series, following exchanges in China and Chile.

He says the six students were selected for the three week trip by auditions in kura kaupapa Maori.

They will be farewelled tomorrow at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori a rohe o Mangere by members of Auckland's South African community and the South African high commissioner.

“They go to the second largest township in South Africa, Mdantsane in East London, and that’s all Xhosa, they’re mainly black people and they will be home staying in those schools but they will also be visiting a coloured school and an Afrikaaner school,” Mr Andrews says.

The students will be in the republic during the annual commemoration of the death of Steve Biko, whose murder by police 33 years became a unifying point for the anti-apartheid movement both in South Africa and New Zealand.


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