Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Race document out for discussion

A document which upholds the Treaty of Waitangi as the foundation for racial equality in New Zealand should be debated in every community and marae.

That's the view of Manuka Henare, one of the authors of a Draft Statement on Race Relations unveiled at this week's Diversity Forum by Race Relations Commissioner Joris De Bres.

People have until the end of the year to provide feedback towards a second draft on Race Relations Day next March, with a final version due in 12 months.

Dr Henare says the two page draft covers a lot of territory, and the authors are hoping it will get people talking.

“It doesn't hit the mainstream media by and large. It’s the kind of debate that takes place in corners and in local halls and marae and so on and so forth, and if you give them 12 months, it’s amazing what New Zealanders come back with,” Dr Henare says.


Teeth in Tai Tokerau should get healthier with the launch today of three mobile dental units.

Tui Robust from Ngati Hine Hauora says the units will allow the Maori health provider to reach more people, particularly youngsters.

But he says addressing the rates of dental decay in the north, which are among the worst in the country, will require not just treatment and preventive care but oral health promotion and education.

“The information needs to get out to schools. The communication needs to be consistent. It’s also the people that need to take the responsibility, not just the agencies by actually making that happen. So the responsibility in the end actually comes back to the people,” Dr Robust says.

Ngati Hine Hauora has a decade of experience in oral health.


The winner of an AMP premier scholarship wants to wake up the world to the traditional korowai or cloak.

Bethany Edmunds from Ngati Kuri is one of 13 young achievers to get a hand up from the insurance company.

She's been weaving since she was 12, learning her first patterns from the late Nikki Lawrence of Te Rarawa.

Ms Edmunds will use her grant to study for a Master of Arts at New York University, specialising in textile conservation and costumes.

“I'll be looking at the history of textile culture, but also what role costuming plays within a culture, so for me doing korowai and that kind of thing, it’s a prestigious thing for us as te iwi Maori so I want to sort of open the eyes of the rest of the world to the mana that is involved in our traditional crafts,” she says.

Ms Edmunds says her studies could create international opportunities for other weavers.


South Auckland youth workers say tensions between street gangs in the region seem to have eased.

Willie Peace from Tamaki Ki Raro Trust in Mangere says youth workers are starting to share information and develop more holistic services for the city's rangatahi.

He says after a spate of fatal shootings and stabbings, they've been able to get in try to prevent further flare ups.

“There's been a quiet patch but it doesn’t necessarily mean nothing’s happening, It just means that we’ve been given a let’s say a window of opportunity to work within the areas of concern by the police and Housing Corp as to how we can work with these young people and giving them positive choices rather than making the only choice they believe being gang affiliation,” Mr Peace says.

Illiteracy is at the root of a lot of the trouble, with rangatahi coming out of the school system with few options because they can't read or write.


The Green's local government spokesperson says central government needs to create incentives for councils to implement the recommendations of an independent inquiry on rating.

Metiria Turei says the inquiry has identified major unfairness in the way Maori land is assessed for rating purposes, and the way Maori landowners are treated by many councils.

There are practical things government can do to improve the relationship between Maori and councils.

“The inquiry panel said that there are treaty issues in the way Maori land is being dealt with. The Government has resources they can help local government deal with those treaty issues and take them seriously. That would be a very positive thing for central government to do,” Ms Turei says.

The government should start paying rates on government property, to make up some of the money councils will miss out if Maori land valuations are lowered.


The first Maori councilor has been returned in this year's local government elections.

Raewyn Bennett was unopposed as the Mauao representative on Environment Bay of Plenty.

Ms Bennett says she's hoping the other councilors who will be elected to general seats on the regional council will be more sympathetic to Maori concerns than the current team.

That's because the most of the councilors who voted for the introduction of Maori wards were dumped last time, and it's been a conservative three years.

“When I first went on council it was like being in and environment where social movements and civil rights movements of the past 50 years had bypassed them, and I was prepared to resign because I didn’t want to go through the stress of changing attitudes, but then I though this was just a reflection of what's out in our community,” she says.

Ms Bennett says the positive thing about representing a Maori ward is being able to give a purely Maori perspective to the council's activities.


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