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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Taonga to be returned to Tuhoe

Tuhoe people are to be reunited with some long lost taonga.

The taonga were found in Whakatane Museum by Presbyterian minister Wayne Te Kaawa, while he was researching how land in Maungapohatu came into the hands of the church.

They were gifted to Presbyterian missionaries John Laughton and Annie Henry, who established schools in Maungapohatu and Ruatahuna early last century.

Reverend Te Kaawa says the 60 taonga include kereru and kiwi feather cloaks, a tokotoko and other carvings, a cooking pot said to belong to Captain James Cook and a carved gourd brought to Aotearoa on the Mataatua waka.

“I happened to come across them and went home to Ruatahuna and said to the people, ‘hey, did you know there is all these taonga in the Whakatane Museum that belong to you,’ and they were so overcome they just broke down and cried because it was their parents and grandparents who gifted these taonga to John Laughton and Sister Anne Henry, and they thought they had been lost, Rev Te Kaawa says.

As well as their ownership of the taonga being acknowledged, the Maungapohatu hapu will also get back papakainga land the church has owned in the tiny Urewera settlement for 80 years.


The Green's Maori spokesperson says poor consultation killed a bill to create a trans-Tasman agency overseeing medicines and remedies.

The Therapeutics Product and Medicine Bill is being shelved because the Government can't get enough votes for it.

Loud among the chorus of opposition were traditional Maori healers, who feared the new agency would restrict their use of rongoa Maori or natural remedies.

Metiria Turei says that opposition might not have been so loud if the Government had consulted properly.

“And they've completely failed to talk popreprly to Maori about the impact on rongoa Maori. It only impacts on them when it becomes part of the business practice, the therapeutic practice that Maori are engaged in. They’ve just failed to deal with Maori properly on an equitable basis that talks to us about what those issues are for Maori,” Ms Turei says.


He's been described as a lynchpin of the northern arts community.

Carver Te Warahi Heteraka was yesterday honoured by Creative New Zealand and the Local Government Association for his contributions to creative places ... in particular his Waka and Wave installation in Whangarei's Hatea River.

Scott Pothan, the director of the Whangarei Art Museum, says during that 10 year project, Mr Heteraka showed the clear thinking and ability to bridge cultures which makes him an inspiration for other Northland artists.

“His mana is extraordinary in the north and I’ve discovered that time and time again in all sorts of meetings on all sorts of controversial issues. He’s been the lynch pin to resolving issues in a very sensible and collaborative kind of way and the same kind of way that he works collaboratively with artists and crosses boundaries between traditional tikanga and contemporary practice,” Mr Pothan says.


A Maori health worker says the meningococcal epidemic has woken Maori up to the need for childhood vaccinations.

Child advocacy group WellChild has raised the alarm about New Zealand's immunisation rates, which are ranked by UNICEF as 23rd out of 25 industrialised nations.

The national target is to have 95 percent of children up to date with immunisations by age two, but only 77 percent meet that mark ... and the percentage of Maori children is significantly lower.

But Ripeka Taipari, from the Whare Mauri Ora Trust in Otahuhu, says the situation is improving.

“When the meningococcal vaccine was spread throughout the country, Maori children or Maori parents started picking up on the vaccinations because that was when they got registered to see if they had been taking the immunisations that were on the national schedule,” Ms Taipari says.

Many Maori children miss out on vaccinations because their parents are less likely to take them to see a doctor ... but by the time they are five most have all the required shots.


The Ministry of Economic Development wants Maori views on how companies hunting for medicinal plants and substances should be regulated.

It's holding a series of hui over the next two months on its bio-prospecting discussion document.

Chris Kilby, the acting manager of energy and communications, says the exercise will help the government consider the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal's report on the Wai 262 indigenous fauna and flora claim.

That's expected later this year.

He says there are few controls on international pharmaceutical companies.

“Bio-prospectors are coming in and taking flora and fauna which perhaps we’re not aware about and both Maori and wider New Zealanders aren’t benefiting from that in terms of understanding what that activity is, where are the benefits going, so this document is asking those questions, which sits very nicely alongside the WAI 262 environment,” Mr Kilby says.

The ministry is keen to get feedback from Maori on the idea of creating a register of traditional Maori knowledge on the uses of native plants.


If you can't get to to Whangarei any time soon, a new book will give an insight into the town's award winning sculpture.

Waka and Wave in the Hatea River by the Town Basin is a collaboration between carver Te Warihi Heteraka and sculptor Chris Booth.

Whangarei Art Museum director Scott Pothan has told its story in his book Make Rocks Sing.

He says it's not written as art history for curators, but for people who feel an affinity with the piece.

“I think it's a very engaging kind of story. It’s almost a story against adversity. We were declined funding so many times and I think everyone would be interested in the story of how we managed to get a major signature sculpture for the city celebrating biculturalism in the north,” Mr Pothan says.

At a ceremony at yesterday's Local Government conference to recognise councils' investment in the arts, Waka and Wave won the Whangarei Council a judges’ citation, and Mr Heteraka received an award for his outstanding individual contribution.


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