Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Turia turns guns on Jones

Stung by Labour list MP Shane Jones, the Maori Party is showing personal attacks are as much a part of its political arsenal as the non-Maori parties.

Mr Jones blames the unexpectedly low response to the Maori Electoral Option on what he calls the Maori Party's focus on negativity and sovereignty, which turned people off the Maori roll.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has bit back, saying Mr Jones is being used by Labour against Maori people.

She says his attacks don't ring true.

“His own history is one of political activism and I don’t believe you can believe in your heart and soul a situation of Maori people and then banish it from your thoughts and begin to believe everything you haven’t believed before, and that is, assimilation is the way forward for us as a people,” Turia said.

Shane Jones says Maori culture and identity should be a unifying factor in New Zealand society, but the corrosive politics being practiced by Mrs Turia are likely to turn both Maori and Pakeha away from it.


Maori researcher Maui Hudson says claims a warrior gene is a factor in Maori violence is a beat up.

Rod Lea from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research says the monoamine oxidase gene, which is carried by about 60 percent of Maori, says the gene has been linked to aggressive behaviour and addiction, and risk taking.

But he denies Australian reports that he also linked the gene to criminality.

Mr Hudson, the institute's Maori development manager, says the gene is well known, but researchers are wary of attributing specific behaviours to it.

“I think there's always the risk when you’re looking at genetic research, and particularly round addiction, that it will be construed in a way that will place blame on people and attribute it to the genetic background and not have any consideration of environmental factors,” Hudson said.


The Maori vice president of the Council of Trade Unions says today's United Nations Indigenous People's Day is a reminder of the global struggle faced by indigenous communities.

Sharon Clair says while Maori have made significant gains, including the establishment of kohanga reo and kura kaupapa immersion schools, health organisations and media initiatives, there is still a long way to go.

Ms Claire says indigenous peoples elsewhere face similar issues.

“The struggle doesn't end. We have 370 million indigenous peoples around the globe, but we have a common link. It is indigenous peoples who end up dispossessed of their land, struggle for their identities, are on lower incomes, so we all share that commonality and in that we have solidarity to ensure that we survive,” Clair said.


Labour MP Shane Jones says personal attacks on him by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia can't mask the fact her party's actions are undermining the search for national unity.

Mrs Turia says the list MP has stopped fighting for Maori and is instead fighting Maori.

She accuses him of seeking assimilation of Maori into the mainstream.

But Mr Jones says Maori culture and symbols are enriching and deepening the identity of Aotearoa New Zealand.

He says that process of coming together needs to be done in a non-threatening way.

“Maori bring indigeneity to New Zealand’s identity and you’re not going to create a sense of identity among people who are slowly being drawn together anyway by ongoing corrosive politics, you’ve got to search for what draws people together,” Jones said.

Shane Jones says the latest Maori Option process shows Maori people feel they don't have to stay on the Maori roll to exercise their political rights.


Maori Affairs minister Parekura Horomia says Maori should take heart from the 2006 Social Report.

The report tracks trends in 10 social areas.

It found while life expectancy for Maori increased and suicide rates are coming down, obesity is on the increase, housing is less affordable and there are more people on low incomes than 20 years ago.

Mr Horomia says while there are many positive indicators for Maori, there is still a long way to go.

“Parents started going to work and the kids saw it for the first time. That’s starting to reflect in the report. But the sticky bits are, and I’m not a good example, on obesity and smoking, it isn’t improving, but most of the indicators in there, it’s quite a dramatic report,” Horomia said.


Opportunities for Maori tourism are expected to increase after the chairman of the China Tourism Administration was given an exposure to Maori culture.

Shoa Qiwei and a 50 strong delegation were welcomed by Ngati Whatua to a function at Sky City.

Associate tourism minister Dover Samuels says the majority of international tourists now come from China.

He says Maori need to take advantage of that interest.