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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paraone bill aims to cripple tribunal

A former Waitangi Tribunal manager says a New Zealand First bill will cripple the tribunal.

MP Pita Paraone says conflicts of interest can arise when Maori Land Court or High Court judges serve on the tribunal, and he wants only retired judges to serve.

But Ian Shearer says in the 11 years he worked for the tribunal there were no such conflicts.

He says Mr Paraone's bill would mean there would be few if any Maori judges on the tribunal for the foreseeable future.

Dr Shearer says the pool of potential tribunal members with legal backgrounds is small enough anyway without restricting it to retirees.

“When they retire a lot of them just want to retire. They’re not interested in going back into the fray and the Waitangi Tribunal in particular is fairly demanding. Once you get on to one of those major inquiries, then it‘s full on for quite some time. I suspect they would be hard pressed to find suitable people who would be prepared to take on that task,” he says.

Dr Shearer says rather than attack the tribunal, New Zealand First should try to address the arrogant behavior of the Office of Treaty Settlements which is undermining the claim settlement process.


The head of the Journalist Training Organisation says while the country's ethnic makeup is changing, the same can't be said of newsrooms.

Jim Tucker says news organisations often lack the bicultural and multi-cultural expertise they need to serve their communities.

The report from this month's Asia-Pacific Interfaith Dialogue in Waitangi has called for the media to do more to fostering understanding between cultures.

Mr Tucker says the place to start is the way tertiary journalism courses attract students.

“To get out there and recruit from the ethnic Maori communities, because the figures really are shocking. If you look for instance at the number of students from Maori, PI and Asian areas, the number of students just does not match the latest census figures,” Mr Tucker says.


Police are looking at a little used recruitment tool to get more Maori in blue.

Stategy advisor Huri Dennis says Maori officers can have the most effect convincing young Maori to join the force.

Traditional strategies aren't getting the response the police are looking for, so they are considering a roadshow using some high profile Maori cops.

Mr Dennis says many Maori officers excel in other areas of life such as sports, music and the arts, and potential recruits will be told they can continue to pursue outside interests.

“Using our Maori officers in uniform but un a different setting, doing different things may provide that motivation, and we hope to take it from Ngai Tahu maybe all the way up to Te Rerenga Wairua and by the time we get up north we’ve got a list of names we can follow through with a bit of grunt,” Mr Dennis says.


West Auckland Maori are mourning one of the people who has helped build a community for urban Maori.

Sam Waiti is lying at Hoani Waititi Marae, where he sat on the paepae for more than to decades.

Mr Waiti's ancestry came from the historic union of Ngati Porou and Hauraki lines, but the former wharfie showed a long-standing commitment to his adopted city.

He was also a founding trustee of Te Whanau o Waipareira, which was formed to provide social services, economic development and fellowship for Maori in the west.

He'll be taken on Saturday to Te Kie Kie marae at Waipiro Bay for his funeral on Monday.


The Maori Party says it's time for its fellow opposition parties to stand up for what they say they believe in.

The party is asking National and United Future to back its Foreshore and Seabed Act Repeal Bill.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says the bill is due to come up again in the next month, and if those parties are true to their word, they will back it.

“If they are going to talk about one law for all and equality before the law, then the one thing they owe us as tangata whenua is to treat us with enough respect to allow us top be able to go to court and to take our claims there, rather than holding hands with Labour and continuing to deny us,” Mrs Turia says.


A Maori lawyer says New Zealand First's Waitangi Tribunal Amendment Bill smacks of electioneering.

MP Pita Paraone's Removal of Conflict of Interest Bill would bar Maori Land Court and High Court judges from hearing tribunal claims, because they might also sit on cases on the same issues.

But Moana Jackson says no such conflicts have arisen.

He says the bill is an attempt to raise unjustified doubts about the integrity of the tribunal and of the judges.

“The Maori judges of the Maori Land Court who sit on the tribunal bring to their role at least an empathy in terms of often being fluent in the reo, often having some understanding of the cases involved because they are part of the Maori story,” Mr Jackson says.

He says replacing Maori land Court judges with retired judges, most of whom would be non-Maori, would take away much of what gives the tribunal mana in the eyes of Maori.


The producer of a Maori musical showcase tonight expects it will be standing room only at the Auckland Town Hall.

Native Noise brings together some of the country's most popular Maori bands to celebrate Matariki, including Shem, Open Souls and Katchafire.

Piripi Menary says the online response to the free concert shows indicates it's a hot ticket.

“The only downfall of it I suppose is the venue size is a little bit smaller than we thought at first conception. We didn’t expect our web site to be totally overblown like it has been,” Mr Menary says.

Preferential tickets to Native Noise can be picked up from Auckland University of Technology campuses.


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