Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good organisation can win Maori seats

Retiring Labour MP Mita Ririnui says the party has a good chance of winning seats back from the Maori Party in November's election.

Mr Ririnui is standing down after two terms as Waiariki MP and two terms as list MP, with the party choosing 46 year old Rotorua lawyer Louis Te Kani to take on the Maori Party's te Ururoa Flavell.

He says as Maori wake up to the fact the Marine and Coastal Area Bill does more damage to their customary rights than Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act, sentiment is changing, and it's becoming anybody's race.

“Good organization, a good hard campaign on the ground could turn it around. I think all the Maori members feel that way and I can see the worried looks on the Maori Party incumbents, particularly Te Ururoa Flavell, given that he was the one that lodged the complaint of Hone Harawira and now the question is being asked, ‘why do you do that in election year?’ Is that dumb or what? Because Hone’s not the sort of person that is going to lay down,” Mr Ririnui says.

Meanwhile, Labour's Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee is tonight confirming its candidate to contest the Auckland-based Maori seat, with list MP Shane Jones the only applicant.

MAORI PARTY NEGLECTING CONSTITUENT NEEDS

A member of the Alternative Welfare Working Group says the Maori Party's preoccupation with internal rifts means it has been neglecting its constituents.

The party's disciplinary committee met in Auckland today to consider whip Te Ururoa Flavell's complaint against Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.

Mamari Stephens says the outcome of that process is likely to have far less impact on Maori than the government's Welfare Working Group, whose report due tomorrow is expected to recommend extensive changes to the benefit system.

“The Maori Party may be distracted if you like from what I think is a critically important issue for many Maori so we don’t hear a lot of comment from the Maori Party and also internally with the Maori party there are differences as to what the best solutions are to stopping Maori being on benefits long term, even what benefits should exist for example,” Ms Stephens says.

She wants to see partnerships with iwi organisations to tackle unemployment.

MATATINI WINNERS STOOD OUT FOR INNOVATION

Judge Pou Temara says Te Maataarae i Orehu were clear winners of Te Matatini 2011 because of their innovation and creativity.

He says the judges were united that the Te Arawa group's performance was a step above runners-up Te Waka Huia from Tamaki Makaurau and Te Whanau a Apanui.

“They just pitched it so high it would have be difficult for any other team to aspire to that high level, It has to do with innovation, It has to do with creativity, It has to do with taking the culture to the line,” Mr Temara says.

Te Mataarae i Orehu under leader Wetini Mitai has a record of pushing the boundaries of performance.

TURIA READY FOR TEEN BENEFIT REFORM

On the eve of the report back of the government's Welfare Working Group, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she's hoping for constructive ideas about getting Maori into work.

Mrs Turia, the associate minister of social development and employment, says she would be opposed to moves which would disadvantage beneficiaries who are already struggling.

But she says it's not enough to just put young people on the dole.

“I don't think it’s good for any kid to leave school and go directly onto an unemployment benefit. We’re starting to see families where this has become the third generation and that means people have lost the sense of purpose and hope that they can work,” Mrs Turia says.

However she is strongly opposed to single mothers being forced into the workforce.

PETERS TRADES BLOWS OVER DIPLOMATIC OVERTURE

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is denying he ever authorised anyone to offer New Zealand First leader Winston Peters a foreign posting.

Mr Peters, who held the portfolio between 2005 to 2008, says he saw the offers in 2009 and last year as attempts to get him out of politics and out of the country.

He says while he didn't talk to Mr McCully directly, after 30 years in politics he can read the signs.

“They came with the authority of Murray McCully and no one would make that sort of indirect approach without that they knew they had the authority of the leader. That’s what I’m putting into perspective here,” Mr Peters says.

A spokesperson for Mr McCully says the minister's practice is to personally offer people an ambassadorship, rather than make the approach through third parties.

NEW LANGUAGE SOUGHT BY MATATINI CHAMPIONS

The leader of Te Matatini champion Te Maataarae i Orehu says the group is constantly looking for ways to put the lessons of the past into today's language.

Wetini Mitai Ngatai says the winning bracket incorporated battle formations and martial arts as a way to encourage people to exercise.

He says the roopu's radical routines are about finding a balance between old and new.

“Today's world we lean so heavily on the guitar and western scales, beautiful singing, but you can get that in choir competition, opera. That’s where it comes from, but where do we see ourselves as Maori people developing our own songs. That’s what I’m looking for, our own songs, our own way of expressing our Maori identity,” Mr Ngatai says.

He says the strength of kapa haka shows the missionaries' attempts stamp out the traditional way of Maori performance weren't successful.

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