Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Compulsory voting to protect vote

Hauraki - Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta says New Zealand should follow Australia's lead and make voting compulsory.

Ms Mahuta has been canvassing in support of her cousin Kelvin Davis, Labour's Te Tai Tokerau by-election candidate.

She says Maori are missing out by not exercising their right to vote.

“Sadly I knocked on a household, spoke to a person who was around about 44, and they said they had never voted, and I couldn’t believe it, and we cannot have that picture going on among Maori, because people will say why do you have Maori seats, you don’t even use your vote,’” Ms Mahuta says.

She says it's looking like a low turnout on Saturday.


But a close observer of politics in the north is predicting a higher than expected turnout for Saturday's by-election.

Mike Kake, the chief executive of Ngati Hine FM, says the race could come down to special votes.

He says the three major candidates ... Hone Harawira, Kelvin Davis and Solomon Tipene ... may be a lot closer than outside observers think.

“There's been a lot of activity around updating registration forms, a lot of activity driven by the campaigns themselves. Labour, Mana and the Maori Party are driving for new members, so there have been new enrolment forms coming though. So they still have an opportunity to get enrolled before Friday and cast a special vote,” Mr Kake says.

The street surveys his station has been conducting haven't come up with a clear winner.

The Electoral Commission says it has received 355 early votes, more than at the same time before the 2008 general election.


The whanau of Manawatu's Te Taumata o te Ra Marae has started the sad task of rebuilding after a devastating fire.

The marae at Halcombe lost its wharekai and kaumatua lounge in a suspected arson three weeks ago.

Awhina Twomey of Ngati Manomano says many in the whanau saw the devastation for the first time this weekend, but after the tears, they got stuck in to the work setting up a temporary kitchen so they can look after manuhiri.

Awhina Twomey says the marae had been trying to raised money for sprinklers before the fire, but even sprinklers my not have been able to save the old totara buildings.


Labour's Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis says the emergence of a company offering small high-interest loans at the push of a text message is an indictment of the Government's refusal to regulate loan sharking.

Budget advisers are warning that many Maori are likely to get driven into financial crisis by the loans, which Ferratum Group is pitching as a way to avoid having your eftpos card declined at the supermarket.

Kelvin Davis says the Government refused to support Labour's attempt to curb predatory lenders.

“They voted down our loan sharks bill last year and things are getting worse. If peole can just text a long and have to pay 50 percent interest over a couple of weeks, they’re just going to get hammered. The vulnerability of people is being taken advantage of and no good can come from it,” Mr Davis says.

He says the idea that people might have to take out loans to buy groceries shows the Government's policies aren't working.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia believes Hone Harawira may learn to regret taking strategic advice from former Alliance president Matt McCarten.

Mrs Turia is incensed by Mr McCarten's weekend newspaper column praising Mr Harawira for seeking a mandate by forcing a by-election in Te Tai Tokerau ... and saying he gave the same advice to Mrs Turia when she walked from Labour.

She says there was no such advice.

“People need to be extremely careful about the information he puts into the public arena because it is not strictly correct and I am totally surprised that Hone has bought into Matt’s advice because calling the by-election and advising Hone to go with it is what we call stunt politics and that actually is Matt's trademark,” Mrs Turia


The call has gone out for more volunteers for Maori Google.

It's almost three years since the Maori version of the internet search engine launched, but online media consultant Karaitiana Taiuru says the translation effort is struggling to keep up with the site's growth.

He says anyone with suitable language skills can pitch in.

“Any individual is able to begin translating on their own. One person was responsible for translating most of it. With community effort, it will be a small job and definitely feasible,” Mr Taiuru says.

Only about a quarter of Google's pages are translated into Maori.


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