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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 28, 2011

Iwi leaders respond to quake

February 24

Iwi leaders and Te Puni Kokiri are setting up an earthquake response centre in Christchurch to co-ordinate Maori help for victims of the disaster.

This follows a meeting at Rehua marae this morning at which Maori affairs minister Pita Sharples and Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon were joined by iwi leaders from around the country including Tukoroirangi Morgan from Tainui and Roger Pikia from Te Arawa.

Media spokesperson for the centre Derek Fox says those present agreed to do everything possible to help the people of Christchurch after hearing horror stories of families still without water, power, food or shelter.

Mr Fox says even before it has found a site to operate from the centre or command post is already being flooded with offers of help from marae around the country including the provision of food, doctors, medical supplies and accommodation.

Dr Sharples says Maori are keen to help, and have unique skills they can bring.

MARAE GEAR UP FOR RESPONSE

Two marae in Akaroa south of the city are among the first to offer accommodation and support to victims and rescue workers.

Co-ordinator Ngaere Wybrow says Wairewa and Onuku Marae about 45 minutes from the city are available to all, but they just need to get the word out there.

She says the area wasn't badly affected by the earthquake.

WELLINGTON MARAE READY TO RECEIVE DONATIONS

And further a field three marae in the Wellington area, Pipitea in the city, Kokori in Seaview and Takapuwahia in Porirua are being brought into the response.

One of those whose offer of help has been taken up is Wellington's Tenth's Trust which is preparing to provide accommodation and support for up to 3000 people mainly tourists affected by the quake.

Trustee Peter Love says both Pipitea Marae and Te Raukura, the new WhareWaka house on the waterfront, are taking in refugees with upwards of 1200 people expected during the day and evening.

POLICE KEEN ON MAORI PRESENCE

The Police are certainly welcoming Maori setting up a commend post to co-ordinate the iwi response to the quake.

The general manager of Maori, Pacific and ethnic services, Wally Huamaha, who attended the hui at Rehua marae today says the command structure will evaluate needs then co-ordinate the Maori response in conjunction with the overall assistance being provided.

Superintendent Huamaha says he has assigned two officers to the Maori response command post already and more help will be provided as needed.

WARDENS ON STAND-BY FOR QUAKE RESPONSE

And Maori wardens from Auckland area are on stand-by expecting to be flown into the disaster zone within hours.

Thomas Henry who is chairperson with the Tamaki ki te Tonga district wardens association says 30 Maori wardens are fully ready to go into action.

They expect to join Maori wardens from other parts of the country in Wellington before being flown into Christchurch.

UN CRITICISM SHULDN’T BE GLOSSED OVER

Christchurch academic Rawiri Taonui says the harshness of UN rapporteur James Anaya's criticism of New Zealand should not be lost as the country is gripped by the earthquake disaster.

In his report tabled in the general assembly on Monday, the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples says Maori are extremely disadvantaged socially and economically compared to other New Zealanders.

Mr Taonui says particularly significant is a finding constitutional protection is needed to stop politicians circumscribing Maori rights through legislation like the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill.

He says the way the bill defines rights means the ability to go back to court is an empty right, and the New Zealand system offers weak protections for Maori rights.

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