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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tribunal slams reo policy failures

One of the founders of the Kohanga Reo movement has welcomed a Waitangi Tribunal report which gives a fail mark to the Maori language policies of successive governments.

In the Te Reo Maori chapter of its WAI 262 report on intellectual property claims, which was released in advance of the main report, the Tribunal found the number of Maori pre-schoolers attending kohanga reo has dropped from just under half in 1993 to under a quarter.

Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi says after explosive growth through the 1980s, Kohanga Reo got watered down when responsibility passed from the department of Maori Affairs to the Ministry of Education.

“The excitement and the involvement and the participation watered down. Because the formal education system said you have to have qualified teachers, you have to have quality, you have to have approved buildings, you have to have funding. When that happened, all the families that were involved and the old people felt there was not place for them. They didn’t have these so called qualifications,” Dame Iritana says.

She says language revival requires systems which work with whole whanau and communities, rather than being focused on individual learners.


The Prime Minister, John Key, says the Tuhoe settlement needs to be negotiated without the pressure of a ticking clock.

Mr Key says while there was a slight hiccup in May after he vetoed land in Te Urewera National Park being used in the settlement, discussions have continued with the Crown facilitator and the Office of Treaty Settlements.

He says while the Government has set itself the target of settling all historical claims by 2014, it's more important to get lasting settlements than to meet what was always an ambitious goal.

“It's a significant settlement. They are a large iwi. They’ve suffered a lot, everyone needs to recognize that, but it’s also very complex and of course there’s a potential for precedent with a number of other settlements we are close to so the reality of getting further down the line with treaty settlements is you get into the harder, more complex issues,’ Mr Key says.

He says it's worth remembering the South Island Ngai Tahu settlement took four years, including a one year break.


Long-serving Hasting district councilor Henare O'Keefe says the election of a second Maori to represent Flaxmere reflects the community's determination to help itself.

The Hastings suburb is renowned for social problems.

Mr O'Keefe says his re-election and the election of young lawyer Jacoby Poulain by is a sign of the people's determination to find home grown solutions.

“If you are looking for an answer, look in the mirror. Government can’t legislate passion and commitment. No law can legislate that. It’s got to come from within, and Flaxmere’s certainly doing that. We’ve come of age. We finally have a united voice which is great,” Mr O'Keefe says.

Innovative programmes in Flaxmere include Bike On which promotes exercise by giving kids bikes, a healthy living programme, and next week a community duathlon.


Prime Minister John Key says the reason for inserting the word "free" into the Marine and Coastal Area Takutai Moana Bill was not pressure from the ACT Party but false statements made by outside lobby groups.

Mr Key says the word was not in the original because Crown Law advice was that the bill would not allow Maori customary owners to charge for beach access.
But he says public concern has been whipped up by Coastal Coalition head Hugh Barr.

“The reason we’re doing it because you have people like the coastal coalition, this Barr guy, running around telling a lot of untruths around the country and trying to whip up Pakeha concern where it’s not justified and one of the main areas has been around this issue that all of a sudden we will be charged to go to the beach and that’s not true,” Mr Key says.

He believes Maori Party MPs with the exception of Hone Harawira will continue to support the Bill because they realise it is a vast improvement over the existing Foreshore and Seabed Act.


Labour leader Phil Goff says voters in Tamaki Makaurau will need to look tp the future when casting their votes at the next election.

List MP Shane Jones is seeking Labour's nomination to challenge Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples for the seat.

Mr Goff says Mr Jones has a huge amount of ability and energy, and he's still relatively young in terms of his political career.

“Look I've got nothing against Pita, I get on quite well with Pita personally, but Pta would be the first to acknowledge he’s coming close to the end of his political career, Shane’s in the middle of his political career and I think having that strong Maori voice representing the Maori electorate of Tamaki Makaurau, I think that would be good for Labour and it would be good for the Maori voters of Tamaki Makaurau. It would give them a strong voice in Parliament for the future,” Mr Goff says.


Surviving members of Maori showbands were welcomed onto Awataha Marae on Aucklands' North Shore a couple of hours ago, in preparation for a gala concert on Friday night.

A Maori Showband Tribute to our Unsung Heroes features performances aknowledging the Quin Tikis, the Hi Quins, Hi Fives, Hi Liners, Maori Troubadors and Volcanics.

Veteran entertainer Toko Pompey, aka Sammy Dee, says it's good to have old friends back home, including Las Vegas-based Kawana Pohe from the Maori Hi Fives, Mary Nimmo, Solomon Pohatu, and Rim D Paul.

The sold out concert at the Bruce Mason Centre will include a special tribute to the Las Vegas based Maori Hi Fives, who last year were given a gold star on the Strip outside the New York New York casino, in recognition of their contribution to the music industry in Nevada.


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