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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vigil looks at violence issues

Maori must take ownership of the violence that plagues their communities.

That was the message from Pita Sharples to the 200 people who gathered for a dawn vigil on Mangere Mountain in South Auckland.

Today's event was organised by south Auckland police to highlight the impact of family violence.

While homicides have been down in the region over the past year after 14 killings the previous year, Dr Sharples says the statistics for other violent incidents show the risk is never far away.

He says too many families fail to intervene when there's a problem in their whanau.

“And the Maori people have a proud good heritage, and our part in the domestic violence is a blot on us, and it’s our fault we are not getting to the families, because they are our families. There is not one violent man out there who is not know to be violent by someone else,” Dr Sharples says.

The vigil included a minute's silence for Claire Hills, whose murder on the mountain in 1998 is still unsolved.


Maori health researchers want to talk with Pakeha about their experiences with the health system.

Massey University's Whariki research centre has been given $850,000 by the Health Research Council for a three-year study on privilege and structural advantage in health delivery.

Project head Belinda Borrell says the research will look at everyday things that people take for granted, until they don't have them.

She says it is well-established that Maori and non-Maori have different access to health services.

“There are forces in our society apart from socioeconomics, apart from money, that have an effect on health outcomes. We know that a lot of Maori and Pacific disadvantage is unerarned by that population, so that must then follow that a lot of privilege and advantage is also unearned,” Ms Borrell says.

The researchers will talk to people who identify themselves as mainstream New Zealanders, as well as look at health policy development and media treatment of Maori health issues.


A South Island site linked to a bloody piece of New Zealand history is to become protected reserve.

Takapuneke, near Akaroa, was the home of Ngai Tahu's paramount chief Te Maiharanui, who was slain in 1830 after being lured on board a British ship chartered by Ngati Toa warlord Te Rauparaha.

As a result the British Crown sent James Busby to New Zealand in 1833 as British Resident to curb the lawlessness, a move which led to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi seven years later.

The old Banks Peninsula District Council leased the land to a farmer, but its new owner, the Christchurch City Council, has other ideas.

George Tikao from Onuku Runanga says Akaroa Maori are supporting the change in status.

“The land at Takapuneke is not for sale. The process they are working on will in time bring about closure on this property significant to all the people of Banks Peninsula related to the chief that was murdered,” Mr Tikao says.

He says last week's World Heritage Council meeting, which included a session at Onuku Marae, raised awareness of the region's heritage sites.


Tauranga Moana rangatahi may be walking through the doors of a new total immersion Maori secondary school.

The Ministry of Education is consulting with Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga over whether to create a single large school, or have several smaller marae-based units.

Hauata Palmer, the chair of the Ngai Te Rangi Runanga, says that's a way to get around the high price of land in Tauranga.

“At marae you already have most of the resources there and there’s very little in terms of set-up costs. What the marae-based ones are suggesting is it would cost less to set up but the resources will be distributed in a more fragmented way,” Mr Palmer says.

The school will help Tauranga iwi hold on to their dialect.


Organisers of a dawn vigil against family violence in South Auckland are disappointed by this morning's turnout.

About 200 people gathered on Mangere mountain in cold but clear weather to remember those killed over the year.

That's a fifth of the number who turned out last year to whakawaatea or clear the way for the community after a spate of homicides in the region, including the Kahui twins.

Maryanne Rapata from the Counties Manukau Police, says while there have been fewer deaths, there are still unacceptable levels of violence in the community.

“People have commented about the small amount of people, and I would put it at about 200. The sad thing is it’s an indictment of our society that some little baby has to die before people start showing up at these sorts of things,” Ms Rapata says.


Elsewhere in Auckland, a national Maori whanau violence conference heard of an emerging trend of assaults by women.

Suzanne Pene, from the South Auckland Violence Prevention network, says the 60 delegates are looking at the triggers for violence.

She says collaboration between outside agencies and whanau is needed, so the welfare of families is not left in the hands of strangers.

The hui recognises men are not always at the centre of violent incidents in the home.

“The dynamics are changing now. Previously you had predominantly male assault females. Now you are looking at sisters abusing sisters, daughters abusing mothers, it’s changing in terms of the dynamics for violence within whanau,” Ms Pene says

Many of the problems which need to be addressed are inter-generational, so there are no quick fixes.


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