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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Joint approach best to settle Auckland row

Maori academic Rawiri Taonui says the Auckland council should join the independent Maori statutory board in seeking a High Court review of its budget process.

Mr Taonui says the proposed budget of $3.4 million was recommended by an independent expert, as required by the law governing both the board and the council.

He says the council's decision to slash that putea in half is a challenge the integrity of the process.

“It means either the budget is corrupt in some way or it’s about Pakeha racism and fear of Maori and my feeling is sending it off to the High Court for a judicial review both of the legislation and the budget is in fact the best thing,” Mr Taonui says.

He says the budget row threatens to irrevocably damage the relationship between the Maori and the new council.

INVESTMENT PROTOCOL DOOMS IWI SHAREHOLDING

Greens co - leader Meteria Turei says a new investment protocol signed by Prime Minister John Key and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard makes it even more unlikely iwi will get to buy shares in state owned enterprises.

The protocol allows Australian firms to spend up to $477 million on any New Zealand asset before Overseas Investment Office approval is needed.

Ms Turei says National is trying to get Maori support for its plans to sell shares in state energy companies after the election, but yesterday's deal shows where the economic power really lies.

“A lot of Maori are saying privatization of state assets is a god thing because Maori will be able to buy shares in those assets. That is just wrong. There is no guarantee at all that Maori would have a go at those shares and there is no guarantee that New Zealanders would get first dibs,” Ms Turei says.

POU TUPUNA FEATURE OF MATATINI SITE

The thousands of attendees at this week's Te Matatini festival near Gisborne will see not just the best in Maori performing arts but some spectacular sculptures as well.

Organising committee member Willie te Aho says the grounds of the Waiohika Estate in Gisborne have been dressed with pou created by students from Tairawhiti Polytech's school of Maori art and design under the direction of Derek Lardelli.

The 60 pou tipuna incorporate photos of great Tairawhiti leaders of the past, including Sir Apirana Ngata, Te Kani te Ua and Wiremu Kerekere.

Competition will start at 9am with crowd favourites te Whanau a Apanui first on stage.

SHARPLES REJECTS HARAWIRA DOG APOLOGY
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says he's not accepting an apology from Hone Harawira's mother for calling him a gutless dog.

Titewhai Harawira says she apologised to the MP at a meeting of his Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee.

But Dr Sharples says he didn't understand what Mrs Hawawira was talking about, because he hadn't at that stage read the report in the Sunday newspaper where she let rip at him for allegedly seeking alternative candidates for her son's Tai Tokerau electorate.

Dr Sharples says he has been fielding calls all week from his family, his iwi, and groups he has worked with who were upset and outraged by the comments.

POOR LAWMAKING CREATING BOARD UNCERTAINTY

Labour leader Phil Goff says the high cost of servicing Auckland city's independent Maori statutory board comes down to poor lawmaking by local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

The board is off to the High Court to challenge the council's decision to almost halve the $3.4 million annual budget recommended by an independent expert.

Mr Goff says it costs money to come up with independent contestable advice for a Maori board, rather than have councilors who could draw on the council's own resources.

“It's hard to justify how you’d spend $3.4 million on a statutory board when you actually could have directly elected people that would have a democratic mandate and which would have encourages I think a higher turnout of Maori people to participate in local democracy. That’s what should have happened and Rodney Hide is responsible fairly and squarely for this,” he says.

Mr Goff says Mr Hide should resign.

STRONG LINE UP FOR TE MATATINI START

Te Matatini, the biannual national Maori traditional performing arts festival, kicks off in a few minutes, with today's line-up featuring some of the top guns of the kapa haka world.

Around 5000 people attended yesterday's powhiri to welcome the 42 teams and supporters to the four day festival at Te Waiohika Estate in Gisborne.

Crowd favourites Te Whananu a Apanui open the event at 9am.

Waihirere, who perform after lunch, will be the sentimental favourites along with Waka Huia, because of the recent death of Pemia Wehi who had so much to do with both teams.

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