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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Field days key to unlocking dairy mystery

Expect a lot of Maori farmers at the Mystery Creek field days this week, as they join their colleagues in weighing up whether to shift to dairying.

Kingi Smiler from Pouakani Farms near Mangakino says that's the sort of question farmers are asking as they look at high milk fat prices.

He says Pouakani, a past winner of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for best Maori farm, hasn't looked back since it converted some of its blocks.

“A lot of our incorporations have land that may be available for conversion to dairy. It’s sheep and beef farming at the moment. Certainly in the central plateau region I would expect that to accelerate over the next three to five years with price trends forecast to be high next year and continuing the next couple of years,” Mr Smiler says.


The organiser of a hui on the abuse of elders says agencies need to be sensitive when dealing with the problem.

The hui at Ruapotaka marae in Glen Innes is to mark World Elder Abuse and Neglect Awareness Day.

Keita Dawson, who runs a disability service in South Auckland for kuia and kaumatua, says many whanau neglect their elders because of naivety, or they don't appreciate how others may be taking advantage of relatives with dementia.

She says it's an issue that needs to be dealt with face to face.

“Instead of taking the education to the community, we’re focusing on whanau, because I felt there’s more value for whaanu to be spoke to in their own home, and it’s private, and dirty washing don’t get laundered somewhere else, and it’s a sensitive approach to all that. Otherwise whanau are not going to take any notice of you,” Ms Dawson says.


Iwi are gearing up for the rising of the constellation Matariki, or Pleiades as the ancient Greeks called it.

Haare Williams, the Maori advisor to Manukau City Council, says Matariki is a cultural event unique to Aotearoa, and should be celebrated.

Maori mark the new year from the first new moon after the rising of the constellation, which this year is on Saturday.

“We have other cultures that celebrate leprechauns and Santa Claus and Jesus Christ and dragons and things that relate to their cultures, but here in New Zealand we have taniwha, we have Patupaiarehe, and of course Matariki is one of the most dominant features of our calendar,” Mr Williams says.

Manukau is marking Matariki with kite flying, seminars and kapa haka performances.


There's a call for papers for the fourth young Maori leaders' conference later this year.

Te Kohu Douglas from FIRST, the Foundation for Indigenous Research, Science and Technology, says the conferences follow a tradition dating back to 1939 of young Maori networking and sharing ideas.

He says rather than tell participants what leadership is, the foundation wants the delegates to set the tone of the conference through the papers, which will be discussed in break-out sessions.

“There's so much we an talk about in this issue, and so many people that can offer something, that we can’t have it all in plenary sessions. And so the more contributions we can get from younger people, the better it will be for all of us,” Mr Douglas says.

The Take Up the Challenge young Maori leaders’ conference will be held in October in the Wellington Town Hall.


The chair of one of the largest Maori farmers says landowners could do more to get their young people interested in the sector.

Kingi Smiler from Pouakani Farms says few young Maori seem to want a career on the land.

But he says the rewards are good for those who persist, and owners should look at ideas like cadetships for young people in the wider whanau.

“We're noticing on our farms we’re having the opportunity to attract some of our shareholder’s whanau, but certainly it’s a job opportunity that has a lot of potential and we continue to encourage the whanau to work in the sector and more particularly we’re looking eventually for our whanau to be managing and running all the farms on Pouakani,” Mr Smiler says.

Pouakani has a number of blocks around Mangakino in the central North Island, and is a past winner of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for best Maori farmer.


A linguist who worked on a new dictionary for learners of te reo Maori says the book should stop some of the bad habits students pick up.

Brian Morris says previous dictionaries translated Maori words in into English or vice versa, but Tirohia Kimihia gives Maori definitions of Maori words.

He says that means the Maori thought process isn't disrupted.

“Been so use to the English language mediating a lot of our learning and understanding for learners. A lot of what comes out of their mouths is actually an English thought process in Maori language, so what this does, it puts it in a Maori way of expressing the language,” Mr Morris says.

Five linguists spent seven years researching the dictionary, which is a finalist in the reference section of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.


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