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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mate Maori factor in prison suicides

A Maori mental health worker is endorsing a call by the Wellington Coroner for the Department Corrections to include Maori concepts such as 'mate Maori' or spiritual sickness in risk assessments.

Coroner Gary Evans made the recommendation in his report on the suicides of two men in Rimutaka Prison in 2004.

Taotahi Pihama says there are real risks for Maori in the prison environment, because they can't see a way forward.

“For different reasons their wairua isn’t there, and once the stark realization of limited time, limited freedom, everything’s shut down on them, and then they get confronted with the prison environment. Then this gives them a no way forward scenario, and this all impacts on them, it doesn’t matter how tough a person is,” Pihama said.

Taotahi Pihama says a large number of the suicides in prison have been Maori, and the trend seems to be getting worse.


Rotorua's deputy mayor says a proposed ban on criminals in the city centre, is not racially based, despite a clear anti Maori bias among some councilors.

Trevor Maxwell, who is from Ngati Rangiwewehi, says the council did not consult with Maori about the proposal, because it did not consider it to be a Maori issue.

He says it may be hard to get that message across because of the activities of prominent councilor Cliff Lee.

“Cliff Lee to me actually has been one of the worst people on any council in New Zealand who has used the race card to be elected onto any council. And he practices it. Any matter which comes up regarding Te Arawa or Maori, you could guarantee he'd oppose it,” Maxwell said.


You might have noticed the New Zealand Warriors wore a distinctive jersey in their match against the Cronulla Sharks this weekend.

The game was a testimonial match for second rower Awen Guttenbiel, who is off to the north of England at the end of the season after 11 years at the Auckland-based Club.

Guttenbiel racked up 50 tackles in the Warriors' 12-10 win, in a display that confirmed his status as one of the best players to have worn the club's strip.

He says the jerseys featured distinctly Maori and Polynesian designs, reflecting the culture of the club, and an acknowledgement of his Maori and Tongan whakapapa.

“I spoke to to Puma about getting a jersey done, and they were keen as to get one designed, so I went and spoke to Inia Taylor at Moko Ink in Grey Lynn, and he designed the jersey. So it was very special to get that jersey played in on my testimonial match,” Guttenbiel said.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she is happy with the result of the Maori electoral option, even though it is unclear whether the Maori roll increased enough to create a new seat.

There was a net increase in the Maori roll of 14,914 from new enrolments or people switching from the general roll.

Whether that was enough to create an eighth Maori seat won't be known until next February, when 2006 Census data is finalised.

Mrs Turia says the result justified the extra effort her party put into the option campaign.

”It would have been great if the numbers had been greater, but they’re not, and it really highlights the huge amount of work we need to do amongst our people to get them onto the roll, because there are still thousands who are not enrolled at all,” Turia said.

Tariana Turia says it's clear the Maori Party will have to work harder to convince voters they should switch from the general roll to the Maori roll when the option is next run in five years.


Education Minister Steve Maharey says people are over-reacting to the dropping of the Treaty of Waitangi from the school curriculum

Mr Maharey says the draft now for comment is not a revision of the seven-volume 1993 curriculum but a complete rewrite into a shorter, sharper document.

He says the national education goals and the Education Act still contain references to the treaty.

Mr Maharey says it's taken for granted that the treaty will be taught.

“The treaty gets taught right through the curriculum, there’s the commitment to Maori being taught across the system , those are things I think that people have come to the conclusion it the practical way of taking that framework, and what we are seeing here is we’re more and more taking it for granted that this should be the flavour of the education system,” Maharey said.

Steve Maharey says he doesn't expect many changes to the draft curriculum when it comes back in November.


Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will be recognised for her supreme talents when she receives an honorary doctorate from the New Zealand Music School - Te Koki, later this year.

It will be the first honorary degree given by the school, which is a partnership between Victoria and Massey Universities.

Victoria University pro vice-chancellor (Maori) Piri Sciascia says the degree will be presented in London at Marlborough House, with with Ngati Ranana in hand to support the proceedings.

Mr Sciascia says Maori have a special sense of pride over the achievements of Dame Kiri, and it should be a special day.


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