Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ngai Tahu turns around Seafood loss

Ngai Tahu Seafoods is celebrating a turnaround which has netted the tribe a $9.2 million profit.

Last year the company lost more than $22 million dollars, mainly because of a $20 million dollar write down in assets acquired with the Cook Strait Seafoods business in 2003.

Revenue was $76 million, with New Zealand and China the biggest markets.

Chief executive Geoff Hipkins says a change programme kicked off in 2005 is paying dividends.

“Obviously we've had a significant rationalization of our overheads, particularly plant and equipment, our retail stores have turned around and produced in excess of $600,000 profit, similarly with our wholesale business, an increase in margin there to where there is a positive contribution and we’ve reduced our frozen fish holdings from $5 million to half a million,” he says.

By swapping deepwater quota with inshore parcels held by other iwi, Ngai Tahu Seafoods has been able to guarantee supply of popular species to its Pacific Catch chain of retail stores.


An independent panel says most Maori landowners are being charged too much in fates.

The panel headed by David Shand has released a 277 page report on local government rates.

It says because Maori land can't be sold on the open market, the valuations used to set rates are in most cases excessive.

It recommended the Government establish a new basis for rating that explicitly recognises the cultural context of Maori land and the restrictions of Te Ture Whenua Maori land act.

It says there's a long history of grievances and mistrust between Maori landowners and councils, and even now councils don't give staff the training necessary to deal with landholdings where there might be poor ownership records, multiple ownership and little or no management structure.

The panel also rejected a call for central government to fund councils for rate arrears on Maori land, because it says the problem is caused by over-valuations, or because councils don't adequately engage with Maori landowners.


One of the musicians who pioneered the revival of traditional taonga puoro instruments fears his playing days are drawing to an end.

Richard Nunns has been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, a progressive neurological condition associated with the trembling and stiffness of body parts.

Mr Nunns, who is to receive a $6000 Lilburn Trust award this Friday for his contribution to the arts, says it's not something he has been trying to hid.

“It's pretty obvious if anybody sees me now on stage that I’ve got the wiriwiri in a very practiced way but yes, it’s another journey that one has to travel with and it might even be a tohu in some ways that my playing days have come to an end and I’ve got to sit down and do this big book,” he says.

Mr Nunns says the bilingual book is a collaboration with the late Hirini Melbourne, documenting the pair's long exploration of taonga puoro.


Bay of Plenty Maori say Housing New Zealand policies are frustrating their attempts to build affordable papakainga housing.

The Horaparaikete Trust is trying to build six houses on its 100 acre block at Papamoa.

Chairperson Victoria Kingi says under new rules the owners will have to come up with a 15 percent deposit.

That's because the state agency has dropped a scheme which allowed rural Maori to get loans with a three percent deposit, if they undertook training courses.

She says claims Maori weren't using the low deposit facility don't stack up.

“About 150 Maori here did (the course) and I think about seven Maori got loans. It’s just shocking. They need to be more critical and analyse why their products aren’t working. They need to develop a really robust Maori housing policy, I don’t think they have developed one for a long time,” Ms Kingi says.

As well as making its own money available, the government could do more to liaise between Maori trusts and banks, who are reluctant to lend on Maori land.


The deputy mayor of Rotorua is taking a third crack at incumbent Kevin Winters for the tourist town's top job.

Trevor Maxwell missed last time by 250 votes.

He says with 30 years service, he is the most experienced councilor.

Other contendors are councilor Cliff Lee, Lyall Thurston and former Women's refuge head Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, as well as Mr Winters.

The Ngati Rangiwewehi member hopes voters will see the advantage in voting for a Maori mayor.

“We have an advantage being Maori that we have one foot in our people’s camp and a foot in the wider world and we can give a better perspective on both, whereas perhaps our non-Maori relations can't,” Mr Maxwell says.

While he doesn't support Maori wards, he'd like to see a lot more Maori standing for council in the town.


Twenty years after starting his career singing backup for Billy T James, Leon Wharekura has his own album out.

It's a Love Thing includes the Prince Tui Teka classic "Mum", some jazz influenced tunes, and a tribute to the late Maori queen, which the Waikato and Taranaki singer debuted at Waahi Pa at the Whakamaharatanga preceding last week's Koroneihana celebrations.

Mr Wharekura says the song was a gift from the late Dalvanius Prime.

“He goes into hospital and Leon’s visiting him one day and he says hey, I have this tune I want to pass on to you, this is how it goes. So there I am sitting by his bedside, he sings the rangi to me, says take this song and develop it,” Mr Wharekura says.

He wants It's a Love Thing to appeal to those who grew up on Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong, rather than aiming at today's pop market.


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