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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Battalion legacy being abused

National's Maori affairs spokesperson says a change in the eligibility criteria for Ngarimu VC scholarships is an abuse of the memory of the Maori Battalion.

The 60-year-old scholarships will in future only be given to descendants of Maori Battalion members.

Tau Henare says that counts out his children, because while two of his grand-uncles fought in 28 Battalion during World War Two, his grandfather was in an essential industry so stayed home.

Mr Henare says while he applauds the government's decision to double the funding available, the eligibility change is just plain weird.

“It sounds exciting, because we all want to have that link with the 28 Battalion, but this is 2007, it’s time to move on and it’s time to stop limiting ourselves to the past. I love those people in the 28th, have done all my life and look up to them, but I think the memory of the 28 Battalion is being used and abused,” Mr Henare says.

He says the Ngarimu scholarships need to reflect the needs of Maori today, not hark back to some mythical past.


Shanghai has shaken to the sound of the haka yesterday, and now it's Beijing's turn.

Dover Samuels says the first workshop put on by a Maori tourism delegation in China was a resounding success.

The associate tourism minister says Chinese officials and travel agents appreciated the delegation's kanohi ki te kanohi approach.

“There's no doubt about it that eye to eye personal contact in terms of marketing our Maori product is something that is unique. It was well received by the Chinese leaders and the tourism organisation here in Shanghai,” Mr Samuels says.


One of the champions of te reo Maori says she misses the poetic nature of the old time language.

Naida Glavish caused a storm 20 years ago when the Post Office tolls division tried to sack her for answering calls with a cheery kia ora.

She says much has improved since then, but older native speakers struggle to understand some of the words young speakers use.

She particularly misses the way speakers of the past wouldn't speak directly of people, but they would compare their behaviour with the attributes of plants or animals in the natural world.

“Today's reo is a beautiful reo but it doesn’t encompass the parables and the philosophies,” Ms Glavish says.


Auckland kaumatua Kepa Stirling says schools have a significant role in influencing the language and behaviour of Maori youth.

E ai ki a kaumatua Kepa Stirling e kaha ana nga kura ki te whakatupu i te reo korero me nga whanonga a te hunga rangatahi.


A former Maori MP says Maori could learn from the way south Auckland's Pacific Island community consistently gets representatives on the local council.

John Tamihere says the community has woken up to the value of strategic voting.

He says local authorities are having an increasingly influence over the lives of those within their boundaries, and Maori need to have their say.

“The Pacific Island vote is south Auckland is savvy, it’s educated, it’s organised and it delivers for its people. The Maori vote at local government level never has. So it’s a bit of an indictment really on our participation rates,” Mr Tamihere says.

The turnout of Maori voters in local and central government elections are woefully inadequate.


Meanwhile, Manukau City Council has opened its Treaty of Waitangi standing committee to the public.

Spokesperson Phil Wilson says that's a break from tradition.

He says the council wants to encourage more input from the wider Maori community.

We're trying to take some of that committee process out to the people a bit. Some of our meetings are on marae locally. We’ve been quite keen to get people along to observe and see what’s actually going n in that type of committee process,” Mr Wilson says.


Film director Taika Waititi has no intention of plying his trade overseas.

The 31 year old has just returned from Europe and the United States, where he's been promoting his first feature, Eagle Versus Shark.

He was offered opportunities to direct studio films offshore, but says he wants to pursue independent projects that reflect this country.

“I'm more interested in making my own stuff rather than getting that kind of pay packet. Our films aren’t going to make themselves. That’s one of our problems, we keep losing artists overseas, so it’s better we just try to stay here. I’ve survived 31 years onnot much money, I can do another 30 or so,” Mr Waititi says.

The wacky romantic comedy picked up a number of awards before its general release in the US this month, including best comedy at last month's Newport Film Festival in Rhode Island.

Loren Horsley. who has Ngati Porou connections, was named best actress for her role, beating out Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep.


As cot death campaigners try to tackle high rates of sudden infant death syndrome among Maori with a new flax sleeping basket for babies, Northland kuia Emma Gibbs says the problem didn't seem as common in former times.

E mea ana a kuia Emma Gibbs o Te Taitokerau kaore he mate moenga o te peepee i tino kitea i ona raa tupu.


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