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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sharples extols extent of Auckland council win

Differences have emerged between the Minister of Maori Affairs and the Minister for Local Government about the powers of the Auckland Council's Maori statutory board.

The full council needs to vote a budget for the board next Monday, after council officials advised that the strategy and finance subcommittee did not have authority to approve the $3.4 million a year price tag.

Rodney Hide insists the nine-member board is only advisory, and the council is free to limit its power ... and its budget.

But Pita Sharples says he fought for an independent statutory board after Mr Hide effectively blackmailed the Government to block the creation of elected Maori seats on the council itself.

“The big argument was making it statutory as opposed to advisory. If it was advisory it was straight away another little subcommittee of council which can be ignored, but a statutory body makes it obligatory for them to be involved, and that’s why I’m so glad that got passed. When we passed it at the time many Aucklanders and iwi thought it was a bad second but now they’re seeing it has real teeth,” Mr Sharples says.

He says Auckland is lucky to have a council where the Maori viewpoint can be heard.

MARINE AND COASTAL BILL THE MAORI PEOPLE’S BILL

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is rejecting criticism of the way the Marine and Coastal Area Bill is being handled.

The Maori affairs select committee this reported the bill back to parliament unchanged, with Labour, Green and ACT members of the committee complaining they were denied a proper chance to consider the legislation, and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira expected to vote against it.

Dr Sharples says once amendments are made at parliament's committee stage, the bill will be a suitable replacement for the Labour government's Foreshore and Seabed Act.

“We've been negotiating every way right up until last week and we actually won a little clause which lightened one of the tests and right up until last week also iwi were making submissions on it so it’s sort of been the Maori people's bill in a way,” Dr Sharples says.

He says the bill seems to have about 50-50 iwi support, with iwi who are opposed understanding why it was the best that could be achieved at this time.

AWARD FOR CREATOR OF YOUTH TEAM TRUST

A west Auckland woman who has creates opportunities for thousands of children to talk through the issues they face has won an individual award at the annual Every Child Counts awards.

Mereana Tautu Buchanan started the Youth Team Trust 12 years ago, running weekend workshops in Auckland and Christchurch where children can talk in a safe environment about issues like physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

She says yesterday's award ceremony in Parliament gave her a chance to meet other people working in their communities with tamariki and rangatahi.

The Youth Team Trust plans to expand to South Auckland this year, and is also considering making the programme available in Whangarei, Palmerston North and the top of the South Island.

ACTORS SOUGHT TO PORTRAY TE RAUPARAHA

The director of a new documentary on the famous haka "Ka Mate" says finding actors is proving a challenge.

The haka was written by Te Rauparaha, and Wiremu Grace says he needs people to play the Ngati Toa rangatira as a baby, rangatahi and adult.

The producers are also scouring kapa haka teams to find long haired, dark skinned people to play wahine and warriors in the scenes from the early 1800s that make up the early part of the film.

“Then we'll be going into the Ngati Toa perspective on things of how that haka came about and the rest of the world really in terms of how the haka has been received and how it is used and the controversies that have surrounded it and where we are at today so there is quite a lot of material for us to get through
Mr Grace says.

Auditions start at 10am tomorrow at Whitirea Polytechnic's Porirua Campus.

The documentary will screen on Maori Television during the Rugby World Cup carnival.

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