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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sykes slams iwi chairs' roundtable

The iwi chairs forum has been slammed as an unelected and unaccountable group which has no mandate to make major decisions on behalf of Maoridom.

In the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture being delivered about now in Auckland, lawyer Annette Sykes from Ngati Pikiao says the forum and its associated iwi leaders groups are exerting growing influence on Maori policy.

She says hapu round the country are becoming increasingly concerned at the activities of the self-selected group, which includes Ngai Tahu's Mark Solomon, Tukoroirangi Morgan of Tainui and Sonny Tau of Ngapuhi.

“There are these six iwi chairs who have been nominated to meet quarterly and have regular interface with the Crown. Now I don’t know any process which showed those six iwi chairs should be that which takes that interface. There was certainly no Hirangi hui, there was no Turangawaewae hui, and certainly at Waitangi or Pukawa where I’ve been at, there has not been a mandate of this kind,” Ms Sykes says.

She says while some of the convenors asked by the iwi leaders to take the lead on issues are highly skills, others have no discernible expertise in what they are being asked to comment on.


Labour leader Phil Goff says a vote in the Mana by-election for Unite Union boss Matt McCarten would be a vote for National.

Mr Goff says the former Alliance president hasn't got a chance of winning in what will be a two horse race between the main parties.

He says his presence as an independent can only help National's Hekia Parata by taking some votes from the left away from Kris Faafoi.

“A vote that's not for Labour is going to be a vote in favour of the National candidate so that’s just the nature of a by-election,” Mr Goff says.

He says the by-election is a chance for voters to send a message to the government about rising prices, unemployment and cuts in health and social services.


A Maori chef says the five years he took to research, refine and publish Cooking With Charles Royal has been worth the effort.

The Rotorua based, Army-trained chef aimed the book at the young adult market, but he says it will help any adventurous cooks who want to incorporate ingredients from the bush into their kai.

The recipes are all road tested, and many are learned from people familiar with the unique tastes and flavours of the ngahere.

“There's a lot of whanau that have secret little recipes. My mother, she’s a good cook as well so I started at an early age, learnt everything from munching on basic damper bread or takakau right through to flax seed muffins and smoking salmon with horopito and tomato over the open fire,” he says.

Charles Royal will be demonstrating and signing copies of the Huia-published book at this weekend's Rotorua Home and Garden show.


Independent candidate Matt McCarten says he intends to set the agenda for the Mana by-election.

The former Alliance president has the backing of his Unite Union to join the contest for the safe Labour seat, which Phil Goff's former press secretary Kris Faafoi is seeing to retain for the party against the challenge from National list MP Hekia Parata.

He says there's a lot to say before the November 20 vote.

“There's no campaign here. They’re just waltzing around and waiting to finish the election. Well, we’re going to give them a campaign and we’re going to make them address the three issues: Employment, the state’s got to do it, the free market ain’t going to do it; got to get the minimum wage up to $15, we’re never going to catch Australia unless we legislate for it; and the other one is I want a discussion about taxes because gst goes up to 15 percent, hits the working poor, yet all the rich got a big tax cut,” Mr McCarten says.

The cancer he has been fighting this year is no longer considered terminal, and he feels in good enough health to cope with the stresses of a campaign.


Labour leader Phil Goff says Hone Harawira's dumping from select committee considering the Marine and Coastal Area Bill shows a clear split in thinking within the Maori Party.

Maori Party leaders say the Tai Tokerau MP was campaigning against the bill in defiance of the caucus's support for it, so his place during the submission process would by taken by party whip Te Ururoa Flavell.

Mr Goff says Mr Harawira was voicing concerns that many in the Maori party feel about what their leaders have signed up to.

“This a power struggle within the Maori Party, and this is the end result of it,” he says.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says the large number of Maori who worked on Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy deserved better pay and conditions than they got.

Ms Turei says while the actors' union is being cast as the villain in the row over whether The Hobbit will be filmed in Aotearoa, the truth is that film studio Warner Brothers is only interested in tax breaks and cheap labour.

She says filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson may have employed lots of people, he has not always employed them well.

“I knew quite a few Maoris who worked on those movies as extras, especially as orcs, because they’re big and dark, I’m not sure, heaps of them were working as orcs and they had a terrible time. It’s not actually a particularly pleasant job and they weren’t being paid huge amounts of money,” Ms Turei says.

She says the government seems determined to sell off New Zealand workers cheaply to the Hollywood studios, rather than let the workers bargain for a fair deal.


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