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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, December 17, 2010

Select Committee review lazy and off mark

A senior New Zealand Maori Council member says a review of the council was a lazy effort that showed a failure to understand its role.

The Maori Affairs select committee review recommended that the Maori wardens should be set up as a standalone body with its own legislation and funding.

It says many of the district Maori councils are inactive or meet irregularly, and many of the responsibilities given to the national council are outdated.

Maanu Paul from the Mataatua District Maori Council says the committee seems to be under the mistaken belief that the rise of iwi and hapu groups means there is no longer a need for a national Maori voice.

“The Council believes that the various runanga, incorporated bodies and trusts have total autonomy over their own assets and issues like that, but when it comes to pan-Maori issues, like the electoral reform bill, defence, all those sorts of things, taxation, the iwi authorities have not uttered one word,” Mr Paul says.

He says any review of the Maori council needs to be driven by the council itself.

NORML WANTS MAORI PARTY TO STIR THE POT

The Maori Party is being challenged to back marijuana law reform.

Stephen McIntyre, the president of the National Organisation for the reform of Marijuana Laws, says while Maori use rates mirror the national average.

Maori are much more likely to be stopped stopped and searched, and more likely to be convicted for possessing the drug.

He says reform would affect the availability of other drugs, and political intervention by Maori would be welcomed.

He says the end result is too many Maori end up in prison.

TOO MANY MAORI LOSING TEETH

The most comprehensive survey of the nation's dental health in 20 years has found disproportionately high rates of oral decay among Maori.

Robyn Haisman, the Health Ministry's chief dental officer, says almost 2000 Maori were interviewed.

She says they reported high levels of missing teeth and untreated decay, with many saying they put off visits to the dentist for cost reasons.

“Maori adults were almost twice as likely to have lost all of their natural teeth as non Maori. They had higher levels of partial tooth loss and untreated decay on both the crown and the root of the teeth,” Ms Haisman says.

She says too many Maori parents are failing to enrol their children in the school dental service.

FAR NORTH MAYOR LOOKING AT CLAIM RATES IMPACT

Far North mayor Wayne Brown wants assurances the settlement of Muriwhenua Claims won't lead to cuts in his council's rates revenue.

Mr Brown met last week with the Crown's chief negotiator, Pat Snedden, to discuss progress.

He says the council has a long-standing problem with uneconomic Maori land being put into various trust structures to avoid rates, and he would be concerned if land going back in the settlement, including the Aupouri Forest and several former Lands and Survey farms, is given similar protection.

“It's significant not just for the income. It’s significant for the attitude. If you are going to become part of the economic activity you shoulder your responsibilities, so we expect them to do that,” Mr Brown says.

He's keen to see the settlements concluded.

PARTY MESSAGING DROWNED IN GOBBLEDEGOOK

Former Maori Party candidate Derek Fox says the party hasn't done as well as it should have.

The veteran broadcaster, who worked as a press secretary for co-leader Tariana Turia after he failed in his second bid for Ikaroa-Rawhiti, says some of its gains, such as getting a Maori flag flown on Waitangi Day, and getting New Zealand to conditionally accept the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, have been described as fluff by opponents.

But the former mayor of Wairoa says the party mishandled the fight for Maori seats on the Auckland super city council by ignoring the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland governance.

“The Maori Party would have been wiser to have simply said ‘we support the findings of the royal commission.’ To talk about finding tangata whenua candidates and having them elected by an electoral college, all; too distant and gobbledegook for the general public to understand, so they let that one slip away,” Mr Fox says.

He says the Foreshore and Seabed Act reform is also a mixed bag, with the bar set too high for many iwi to win claims for customary rights to coastal areas.

POU REINSTATED ON ROTORUA-TAURANGA BOUNDARY

Two pou on State Highway 36 between Tauranga and Rotorua which were chopped down in September have been re-erected.

Rotorua deputy mayor Trevor Maxwell says carvers from Ngati Rangiwewehi in Rotorua and Ngai Tamarawaho in Tauranga repaired the damage on the carvings, which mark the border of the two iwi the Mangorewa gorge.

He says it's a great Christmas present to have to pou up and blessed again.

The pou stand as protectors of travellers.

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