Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 15, 2010

Public transport critical for Maori families

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says Maori stand to benefit greatly if the new Auckland council can fix the region's transport woes.

New mayor Len Brown is already at odds with the government and some of his right wing councilors over his plans for light rail and other boosts to public transport.

Ms Turei says transport affects the choices low income people can make for education, employment and community life.

“For Maori you know living out in rural areas or on the margins of Auckland city for example, if we can’t get to see our whanau, if we can’t get to work or school because petrol costs are gong up, we must have an alternative in those communities, and at the same time we know public transport is a key way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Ms Turei says.

She says across the country the election brought victory for many centre left and progressive councilors who have woken up to the economic and environmental benefits of better transport.


Family Planning's national medical advisor says many Maori still don't feel comfortable about discussing issues of sexuality and sexual health.

Christine Roke says the association's annual conference this week is considering issues like the rates of contraception and sexually transmitted diseases in various age groups and communities.

She says Maori have a high rate of accidental pregnancy, and the feelings of whakamaa or shyness that many feel about discussing family planning may be a factor.

“I think that younger Maori often don’t have the same concern about that as older Maori might but it’s still there,” Dr Roke says.


One of the editors of a new anthology of Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English says Maori poets showed the way for many others in the Pacific.

Reina Whaitiri from Kai Tahu and Kati Mamoe says Mauri Ola follows on from the award winning Whetu Moana collection in showing the wide range of voices within Polynesia.

She says the book is anchored by the inclusion of late works by senior poets from Aotearoa including Hone Tuwhare, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell and Jacqueline Sturm.

“Hone especially as he got older, it got stronger and stronger, his Maori voice, because his background was so rich in the bible and in his own culture and Alistair too, like Alistair was a classical scholar and Jacqui too but she was overshadowed by Baxter and she’s only just coming to light now for a lot of people,” Ms Whaitiri says.

She's also impressed with the vitality of many of the younger poets and performance poets, who uphold the oral traditions of Polynesian verse.


A Tuhoe leader says the Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi has spurned offers from police commissioner Howard Broad for reconciliation.

It's the anniversary of Operation Eight, when police conducted raids around the country to arrest 17 people.

The operation included 300 armed police locking down Ruatoki for most of the day while they conducted searches.

Tuhoe leader Tamati Kruger says the iwi has no interest in meeting commissioner Broad because of the way the Crown is conducting the High Court cases.

“The Crown continues to delay that tactically .... That continues to disrupt really and bring disorder to the lives of many Tuhoe families and they have to bear recriminations of that and the stigma,” Mr Kruger says.

No events are planned in Tuhoe territory, but he is off to Wellington to help one of the Operation Eight defendants, Valerie Morse, launch a book about people's experiences of the raids.


Former local government minister Sandra Lee says the new Auckland council must act immediately to provide for Maori representation.

Mrs Lee, who served on the Auckland council during the amalgamations of the early 1990s, says a lot of new mayor Len Brown's support came from Maori, particularly in South Auckland.

She says on day one the council needs to make a clear commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and start work on implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, which recommended Maori seats rather than the advisory board set up by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide and Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples.

“We want to see a clear determination that you recognise the wider Auckland region as being that place where more than anywhere else on the planet much less the country Maori choose to reside regardless of whether they are tangata whenua or mataawaka,” Mrs Lee says


Visitors to the reopened Aotea Square in Auckland may notice some changes to the waharoa.

Artist Selwyn Muru has done maintenance on his giant 1990 gateway, including painting some features and adding two new icons, a guitar and saxophone.

Rob Tuwhare, who worked on the project, says on the back of the waharoa his two sons have carved a haiku by their grandfather, Hone Tuwhare:

Stop your sniveling, creek bed.
Come rain, hail, flood water,
laugh again.

Mr Tuwhare says a highlight of the restoration prject has been hearing Selwyn Muru reciting his father's poems on a daily basis.


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