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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Herenga waka on Auckland waterfront

The designer of the $900,000 Waka Maori waterfront pavilion for the Rugby World Cup says it will be a great place to introduce foreign visitors to Maori culture.

Renata Blair from Ngati Whatua o Orakei says the 70 metre long structure on Auckland's Viaduct Basin will be made from the same high tech fabric as the Queens Wharf party central Cloud.

Over the 17-day carnival it will showcase Maori business and culture.

He says the inspiration was the idea of Auckland as Tamaki Herenga Waka, the place where canoes are moored.

“Everybody's going to explore their way around the world down to Aotearoa and so part of that exploration, people will be tied into something like a waka and travel so this is Maoris way of showing to the world that we are the greatest explorers in the world and also we are some of the greatest rugby players in the word so let’s combine the two at the World Cup,” Mr Blair says.

Ngati Whatua is putting up $100,000 of the $2 million cost of the overall project, with the rest coming from various government departments.

GOVERNANCE AND TRAINING KEY TO LIFTING LAND USE

Agriculture Minister David Carter says improving governance and increasing training opportunities could help Maori landowners bring more land into production.

A report on Maori agribusiness prepared by his ministry estimated more than a million hectares of Maori land isn't delivering on its potential.

Mr Carter says the issues around multiply-owned Maori land are well known and need to be addressed.

“When they're multiple-owned, it is often difficult initially to get good governance structures that allow somebody to show some leadership and progress so governance is one of the big limitations we have identified. Next thing is many Maori haven’t got enough skills and education in the primary sector so governance and upskilling we need to address if we are going to unlock this huge potential,” Mr Carter says.

He says higher commodity prices should help Maori make the investments they need in their land.

TAMATI STORY GETS TO HEART OF VIOLENCE

The face of the It's Not OK anti-violence campaign says he's amazed at the maturity of the students he's spreading the message to in Taranaki.

Vic Tamati was asked by Taranaki Safe Families Trust to speak at eight secondary schools in the region.

He says the students are taking the issue seriously and respond to his story of overcoming his own anger issues after a violence-blighted childhood, and some have come up to say he is telling their own story.

MAORI FAMILIES’ TIES TO CHRISTCHURCH TENUOUS

Christchurch Maori academic Rawiri Taonui says many Maori are abandoning the city because they don't have an ownership stake in rebuilding it.

While there is no official count, Mr Taonui says number of children attending some kura kaupapa Maori has halved since the February quake.

He says many came from families renting state houses in the eastern suburbs.

“A lot of them have left the city because it’s not the same as owning a private house. There’s not the same sense you have to stay there and defend it and patch it up to the last so to speak and I think that’s one reason why they've left,” Mr Taonui says.

Maori who own their homes are also weighing up whether to leave, because it could be hard to reinsure houses in the eastern suburbs.

NEW MINISTER CAN’T FILL EMERGENCY RESPONSE HOLE

Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says attempts by acting Resource and Energy Minister Hekia Parata to down play the risks of drilling off the East Coast won't fool the locals.

Te Whanau a Apanui and Ms Parata's own Ngati Porou iwi are leading the charge against Brazilian oil giant Petrobras's prospecting off their coast.

She says as a new minister Ms Parata doesn't know the portfolio well enough to mount a credible argument.

“She might say nice words up there but she isn’t going to be able to deal with the hard issues which is this oil drilling is going to happen three kilometres down in the ocean floor and if anything bad happens New Zealand has no capacity at all to manage the environmental disaster that could occur and nothing she can say can fix that,” Ms Turei says.

She says National will eventually be forced to back down over deep sea oil drilling, as it did over mining in national parks.

BRIAN BRAKE WORK CHALLENGING FOR MAORI PHOTOGRAPHERS

Writer Witi ihimaera says he's like to see more Maori photographers extending on the innovations of the late Brian Brake.

An exhibition of 40 years of Brake's work is currently at Te Papa, including his distinctive images of the artifacts in the Te Maori exhibition of the 1980s.

Mr Ihimaera says his friend captured the wairua of the taonga and his images encouraged people to them as works of art rather than anthropological curiosities.

“Brian Brake would be really disappointed if we didn’t come along with our own people photographing our own work because I think then the art of Maori photography will really be seen because it will be coming from inside a Maori manawa and Maori ngakau,” he says.

Witi Ihimaera says Maori photographers like Maureen Lander, Norman Heke and Margaret Kawharu have taken some very fine catalogue photographs of Maori material.

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