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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 11, 2007

Family group decision making lauded

New Zealand's system of family group conferences has won international acclaim.

The American Humane Society has presented New Zealand officials with an award for sharing the concept with the world.

The accolade was given at the 11th annual Family Group Decision Making conference in Washington DC last week, attended by 500 delegates from the 22 countries which have such systems.

Mick Brown, who was chief judge of the Family Court when the group conferences were first trialed in the late 1980s, says the concept was always seen more favourably overseas than in this country.

Judge Brown the best thing about family group conferences is they allow the victim to have a say, rather than just being treated like another witness.

“I still think that that was its greatest virtue frankly, and often when they had the opportunity to see the offender and see his family and if there were the appropriate responses made and the regret, many of the decisions reached were in fact very generous in my view,” Judge Brown says.

The foundation for family group decision making was the Samoan ifonga system and the Puao Te Ata Tu review on the social welfare system led by the later John Rangihau of Ngai Tuhoe.


There's a critical response from the Maori Party to plans to appoint a Maori relationships manager for the aquaculture sector.

It's one of the main measures in a package aimed at increasing Maori participation in marine farming.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the deal fails to address the problems which are emerging with the 2004 Maori commercial aquaculture settlement.

“If I genuinely believed that appointing one Maori economic development officer was going to make the world of difference to all of these councils, to the whole marine industry, I would hold my hand up and say this is wonderful, but I have to say I am really skeptical,” Mrs Turia says.

Her Party wants to know how the government will ensure Maori get quality marine farming areas, rather than being left with less productive space.


A group of Tainui ruruhi will formally show their newly tattooed faces at the first anniversary of King Tuheitia's coronation in August.

16 women from their 40s to their 70s had the traditional moko kauae applied to their chins and lips over the weekend by East Coast ta toko artists Mark Kopua, Haki Williams and Rikirangi Manuel.

Tainui spokesperson Te Rita Papesh says a 100 strong contingent of women with moko kauae from Tolaga Bay iwi Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, came to Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia to support the kaupapa.

She says Tainui is excited by the revival of the traditional art form.

“They were just marvelous over the whole weekend and were really ready for it, and an exciting happy time to have moko kauae back on the paepae at Turangawaewae as it was when we were kids is I think an awesome idea,” Mrs Papesh says.

The women wanted to wear the moko as a living tribute the late Maori queen, Te Atairangikaahu.


The long standing dispute over Whangarei's Hatea River has been settled.

Some of the tangata whenua had been pushing for the river to be renamed Hoteo.

But the Geographic Board says it will stay as Hatea, with a macron added to emphasise it is pronounced with a long initial a.

Whangarei District Councillor Kahu Sutherland says the decision is in line with a hui last August, which found insufficient evidence to justify a name change.

“Even within Maoridom, there wasn’t clear advice either way. In staying with Hatea, we’re staying with the status quo.”

Mr Sutherland says whatever way the decision went it would have left some Maori unhappy.


The head of one of Rotorua's largest Maori trusts says long term strategic planning is needed in the region.

Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands Trust has asked the Rotorua District Council for a zone change to allow residential and commercial development of its 1500 hectare Wharenui Station on the eastern edge of the city.

Chairperson Rick Vallance says the trust is seeking community support for the plan, which it believes is in the best interests not only of the landowners but of the city.

“I think what we're trying to do is stand back and take a look 50, 100 years out, get a feel for what really should happen here over the next 100 years and set off down that road, so rather than the normal haphazard little bit here, little bit there without any real thought, we’re going to try and do it in a strategic way,” he says.

Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands Trust has already closed a 350 hectare dairy unit on the land, because it was concerned at the effect of run-off into Lake Rotorua.


Rotorua hip hop group Fearless is heading for Los Angeles next month to fly the flag for Maori at the World Hip Hop Championships.

The nine members, aged between 12 and 17, have only been together for five months, but they cleaned up in New Zealand championships with what judges called their high risk precision choreography.

John Newton, who chairs the Fearless Dance and Culture Trust, says what gives the group its edge is its members' background in kapa haka.

“It's provided the facials during high intensity dancing. They’re not so much able to pukana as make those facials at different aspects of the dance because hip hop is similar to haka in that the whole body shows the effect of what you’re going through as a dancer,” he says.

Fearless is performing at a gala at Rotorua Girls' High School on Saturday to raise some of the $60,000 dollars the group needs for the Los Angeles trip.


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4:24 pm  

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