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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shortland putting hand up for Te Tai Tokerau

Ngai Hine chairperson Waihoroi Shortland intends to put his name in the ring to become the Maori Party's candidate in the Te Tai Tonga by-election.

His entry raises the prospect of a strong three-way race for the seat, where Hone Harawira is seeking a fresh mandate.

The veteran broadcaster and former Maori language commissioner says it's been a long time since Mr Harawira has represented the Maori Party's interests in the north.

“I've proffered myself simply because I think Te Tai Tokerau deserves better, and it deserves choice because I don’t think it has been well served. I don’t think even if Hone manages to get back in that Te Tai Tokerau will be well served. When you look at it from those perspectives you either offer something or you give support,” Mr Shortland says.

Nominations for the Maori Party nomination close on Friday, and the party intends to announce its candidate by writ day on May 25.

SUCCESSFUL MAORI FUTURES THEME FOR CAMPAIGN

Meanwhile, Labour's Te Tai Tonga candidate says he's keen to offer some positive solutions for Maori rather than the diet of negativity served up by Hone Harawira over the past six years.

Kelvin Davis says his experience as principal of Kaitaia Intermediate gave him first hand experience of how education can change the lives of young maori in the electorate.

He says most Maori voters want to move beyond the rhetoric of protest.

“We can get sidetracked by wanting to relitigate the issues of the past. We’ve got every reason to be angry about what put us in the position we are at the moment as Maori but does that mean we should be Maori? Let’s look at what the future holds and how we can best create successful Maori futures for our kids, for our whanau, and that's what I'm about,” Mr Davis says.

He says voters in Te Tai Tokerau will look for the candidate who can best represent their aspirations, rather than vote blindly on party lines.

MAORI SUICIDE RATE STILL TOO HIGH

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements is picking unemployment as a likely factor in the disproportionately high Maori suicide rate.

One in five of those who took their own lives in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, were Maori.

Ms Clements says while employment status was not part of the study, joblessness could be a factor, as people in work feel better about themselves and have lower risk of depression.

BENNETT BUDGETING PLAN GETS THUMBS UP FROM TURIA

Associate Social Development Minister Tariana Turia is supporting a call from Minister Paula Bennett that the finances of single mothers of at-risk children should be managed.

Ms Bennett floated the plan in a weekend newspaper column as part of a list of what she called radical ideas to address child abuse, particularly among Maori.

The column drew fire from Maori community workers, but Mrs Turia says she has never heard the minister talk negatively about teen parents.

“It's not only about teen parents in terms of financial management She’s talking about anybody who is know to be neglecting their tamariki, who may well be spending their money in a negative way,” she says.

Tariana Turia says Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere has been advocating similar hard-nosed interventions for years, and the ideas need to be considered seriously.

DESTINY CLEARS SPACE FOR POLITICAL SLUG FEST

The Destiny Church hopes to bring Maori politicians together.

Leader Brian Tamati says that's why he's invited Maori from each of the main political parties to speak to the church's annual conference next month, including Georgina Te Heuheu from National, Pita Sharples from the Maori Party, Shane Jones from Labour, and independent Hone Harawira.

“Really there's power in unity and I think most Maori when we get down to it would rather see one unified party representing our causes and what we believe we need to have politically in Parliament and what we can get out of that and we need to see that with seven Maori seats it’s a huge advantage in parliament and in New Zealand and so I think we all need to sit back and look at this very carefully,” Bishop Tamaki says.

He says the church's 5000-plus mainly Maori members tend to take political direction from their religious leaders and so have the potential to vote as a block.

KAWERAU INTERMEDIATE FIGHTS FOR ITS LIFE

About 250 students and whanau from Kawerau Intermediate are on their way to Wellington to protest against closure.

95 percent of the decile one school's 150 students are Maori, but the Ministry of Education says falling rolls across the region mean its doors will shut at the end of the year.

Principal Daryl Aim says the ministry isn't listening to the community, and kids in the region will lose valuable opportunities, such as being part of a region-wide sports league.

The school hikoi will be welcomed on Parliament steps tomorrow morning by Maori Party members before meeting with Labour's education spokesperson Sue Moroney.

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