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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 07, 2011

Day of dread as Harawira suspended

Maori party co-leader Pita Sharples says he has been dreading the day when he would have to suspend rebel MP Hone Harawira.

The Tai Tokerau MP was stood down from Caucus today after he delivered a state of the nation speech at Waitangi in what seemed to be an attempt to upstage Dr Sharples' own speech an hour later.

Dr Sharples says the problems with Mr Harawira go back to the formation of the party five years ago, but they have been exacerbated since the Maori Party has been part of the government.

“We've been dreading this day should it come and it’s come because parliament’s about to begin and Hone has shown no sort of inclination of a change in terms of behavior, in terms of the rules of the caucus and the behavior expected of members, the code of behaviour,” Dr Sharples says.

Mr Harawira remains the Maori Party MP for Te Taitokerau.

BROADBAND PICK UNEXCITING AND FOILS CHANGE

The Maori bidder for the rural broadband initiative says the Government's decision to open commercial negotiations with Telecom and Vodafone will disappoint anyone expecting real change.

Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce says he wants contracts signed by the end of March for the $300 million project.

Anthony Royal from the Torotoro Waea Partnership says the proposal Maori had developed with Opto Networks would have brought new fibre-based technology to rural communities.

Instead the government has opted for Telecom's ageing copper network.

“They'll use the existing landlines. They’ll just put out an ADSL broadband which is pretty much what they’ve been doing at the moment. They’ll just do a bit more of it. And the same with Vodafone towers. They’ll build some more towers which will just have existing types off structures put out there. It’s nothing new. It’s pretty unexciting really,” Mr Royal says.

He says the Government may have felt it needed to play safe in election year by going with the incumbents.

HOUSING CONTRIBUTING TO VEHICLE DEATHS OF CHILDREN

The sort of housing many young Maori families find to live in is being blamed for the number of children run over by vehicles.

Ann Weaver from Starship hospital's Safekids child safety service says a review of pedestrian deaths showed the average annual number of children killed dropped from 14 to 8 in the five years to 2006, which hospitalisations fell almost 60 percent.

But she says the percentage of Maori involved in accidents rose during the period ... and accommodation was a factor.

“If you think of the typical house in say South Auckland which has got perhaps a house in the middle of a section with a long driveway with garaging at the back, a typical scenario for a lot of families and unfortunately the driveway is often used as a playground,” Ms Weaver says.

People living in such situations have to be particularly careful.

HARAWIRA PROSPECTS NOT GOOD FOR LONG TERM

Labour list MP Shane Jones says while Hone Harawira may hold on to Tai Tokerau is he stood as an independent this year, his long term prospects aren't good.

The dissident MP was suspended from the Maori Party caucus today after delivering a state of the nation speech at Waitangi which party leaders saw as being designed to upstage a similar speech by co-leader Pita Sharples.

Mr Jones, who also comes from the far north, says Maori voters who care about Taitokerau having any national influence may eventually come back to Labour.

“A lot of our people will think deeply in terms of. It’s entertaining and Hone’s a calabash breaker but if we’re looking at a force going over the next six, 12 years, where are we likely to find it? Naturally we are promoting our own credentials and the clock will eventually turn and it will swing in our direction,” he says.

Mr Jones says there is little point in Hone Harawira staying in parliamentary politics if he cannot make gains for Maori by influencing policy or getting legislation passed.

O’DONNEL RUGBY STAR IN THE MAKING

Former All Black and sevens star Glen Osborne says Gordon Tietjens has unearthed another top Maori talent.

20-year-old Declan O'Donnel scored three tries in the 29-14 win over England which gave New Zealand victory in the Wellington Sevens at the weekend.

Mr Osborne says the young flyer has all the attributes to succeed not only sevens but in but provincial and Super 15 rugby and beyond, including speed, the step, skill and enthusiasm, all the qualities to be a star.

NEN WEHI A GIANT IN KAPA HAKA

Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples says Pimia Nen Wehi was a giant among kapa haka composers.

Mrs Wehi, who co-founded four time national champion Waka Huia with her husband Ngapo Bub Wehi, died on Saturday at the age of 80.

Dr Sharples, whose group Te Roopu Manutake has competed with Waka Huia for three decades, says she was the mother of waiata

“Nen Wehi was unique. She was what we call a mareikura, really special. She was a giant. She and her husband Ngapo Wehi have led us in New Zealand for decades going way back to the beginning, even before Matatini, in their various culture groups,” Dr Sharples says.

More than 1000 people gathered at Hone Waititi Marae in West Auckland yesterday to farewell Pimia Wehi before she was taken back to her marae at Waihirere near Gisborne, where she will be buried on Wednesday.

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