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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Most iwi cut out of coastal rights deal

A Taurangamoana iwi leader says the new Marine and Coastal Area Bill won't help his people get back their customary rights to the foreshore and seabed.

Colin Bidois says the region's iwi now have two Waitangi Tribunal reports spelling out how the confiscations of the 1860s and after had impoverished them and damaged their connection to the land.

But he says the injustice of that raupatu is not addressed in the bill agreed on between National and the Maori Party.

“In Tauranga we have a conundrum where it says if you can prove you have used the land exclusively for customary purposes since 1840 then we’ll consider the next step. But we in Tauranga had our land wrongfully compensated so we couldn’t use it for Maori purposes,” Mr Bidois says.


There exactly one year to go until New Zealand takes on Tonga in the first game of the Rugby World Cup, and Te Puni Kokiri is determined to make sure Maori gain some benefit from the festival.

Paora Ammundsen, its manager of Maori involvement, says Maori need to be part of the substance as well as the spectacle.

He says while the involvement of Maori Television as lead free to air broadcaster gives Maori a foot in the door, other opportunities need to be created and capitalised on in the coming 12 months.

“It's things like the place of our reo in the organisation of the Rugby World Cup, things like bilingual signage and stadia and use of our reo in the broadcasts, things like the tourism commercial opportunities, things like the opportunity for retail product that's Maori,” Mr Ammundsen says.


Turanganui a Kiwa has lost one of its most outstanding identities in sports, business and tribal affairs.

Tom Ihimaera Smiler died this week at the age of 95 and is lying in state at Rongopai marae in Waituhi near Gisborne.

His sporting achievements include winning the New Zealand Maori junior tennis championship at the age of 15 in 1930 - the same year he first represented Poverty Bay in rugby and first shore 300 sheep in a day.

His eight surviving children include writer Witi Ihimaera.

Alan Haronga, the chair of the Wi Pere Trust, says Tom Smiler had a lot to do with building up the trust into an $80 million dollar business with interests in farming and horticulture.

“He was passionate about who he was descended from. That was his tipuna, Wi Pere. He was passionate about his children. He was passionate about the lands that the family were involved in and that’s why when he was a trustee of the Wi Pere Trust he was passionate about the kind of business activities the trust was involved in,” Mr Haronga says.

Tom Smiler's funeral at Rongopai marae is on Friday.


A far north iwi leader says the Marine and Coastal Area Bill sets the bar too high for Maori to win back their customary rights to foreshore and seabed.

Haami Piripi from Te Runanga o Te Rarawa says the far north tribes have been trying for more than a half a century for recognition of their rights to Te Oneroa a Tohe, Ninety Mile beach.

He says the bill contains no provisions for iwi to get funding for legal aid or other sources for research, litigation or negotiation.

“What iwi are being asked to do is front up with all the early costs through a process they might not eventually win, and even if we do win, we are going to end up with a thing called customary title which nobody knows anything about but one thing we do know is that it is extremely weak,” Mr Piripi says.

While Maori can gain little but bragging rights if they win a customary rights claim, the bill provides a mechanism for councils and port companies to gain fee simple title to reclaimed land – land which often has been created by the destruction of customary interests.


The Maori organiser for the Council of Trade Unions is encouraging Maori workers and their whanau to get involved in the union movement's national day of action next month.

Helen Te Hira says low income Maori workers have been hit hard by government actions.

She says they will get a chance to speak out on what's being called 20-10 2010.

“So on the 20th of October there will be actions up and down the country led by unions but also whanau who are really feeling what’s been a cascade of attacks on working rights,” Ms Te Hira says.


Porirua city councilor Liz Kelly wants to become the city's first born and bred Maori mayor.

There are nine candidates for the post, including two Maori and one Pacific islander.

Ms Kelly, who heads a trust which co-ordinates the city's health services, says her Ngati Toa heritage and her record of service should carry the day.

“We're really quite unique because Ngati Toa is the only iwi here in Porirua and there has always been somebody from Ngati Toa that has been elected at large on the council,” Ms Kelly says.

The big concern for the community is that the region could be next in line to become a super city - which could threaten the city's unique cultural make up.


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