Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Women’s refuge raided

Police in body armour broke a window to enter a refuge for Maori women and children in Taupo this morning.

Debs Te Tomo, the manager of Te Whare Oranga Wairua, says the police had a warrant to search for drugs. A dog was used to search the rooms.

Ms Te Tomo says the police did not appear to take anything from the safe housewhich was empty at the time.

She says no attempt was made to contact the refuge beforehand.

“With the Ruatoki stuff going down and the terrorism stuff going down, gosh, you would have thought they would have made some form of contact to allow us time ot come down and open it without them having to violate and enter it the way they did,” Ms Te Tomo says.

The head of the Taupo police, senior sergeant Tony Jeurissen, says the police obtained a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act to search the property, based on information received.

He says nothing was found, and police have replaced the window which was accidentally broken.


The largest Maori tertiary institution continues to attract large numbers of non Maori students.

At the time Crown managers were put into Te Wananga o Aotearoa two years ago, former tertiary education minister Trevor Mallard complained the number of non-Maori to Maori students was too high.

Craig Coxhead, Aotearoa's executive chairperson, says 48 percent of the almost 40 thousand students are still non-Maori.

That's despite the phasing out of programmes like Kiwi Ora, which gave basic instruction in New Zealand culture and society to new migrants.

He says it's a testament to the style and quality of the education on offer.

“I think everybody knows when you go to a wananaga it is a Maori kaupapa, and for us at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, we’ve always said that kaupapa is open to all, whether it be Maori or non Maori, and we continue to have high numbers of non-Maori who wish to experience the learning environment and the kaupapa that we provide,” Mr Coxhead says.

After three years of losses, the wananga is on track to make a profit of between three to four million dollars this year.


The Taua waka is taking its creator round the world.

Tearepa Kahi has just picked up the best short film award at the National Geographic All Roads Film Festival for indigenous and minority filmmakers in Washington DC.

The 15 minute film about a boy who shows compassion amidst rival Maori tribes at war, has also been shown in Edinburgh and the imagineNATIVE indigenous film festival in Toronto, Canaqda.

The west Auckland director says there are more festivals to come.

“The central focus of the story situates itself around a waka and I always sort of thought this waka would go to anywhere it wanted in the world and it seems to be the case. It’s got a little bit further to travel yet but it’s early days still, so it’s all boding well,” Mr Kahi says.

The success of Taua, and his earlier short The Speaker, should make it easier to get the backing for his next project.


The chair of Women's Refuge says a drug raid on a safe house for Maori women in Taupo has destroyed trust between the movement and police.
Mereana Pitman says the staff at Te Whare Oranga Wairua were shattered by the early morning search.

The police say they had a court warrant based on information received, but no drugs were found.

Ms Pitman believes it was no coincidence Taupo police recognised the large contingent of Maori refuge volunteers and staff at yesterday's in Rotorua yesterday in support of Tuhoe activist Tame Iti and his co-accused.

“All women's refuge worker are activists and there’s those kind of well, part of it is that we don’t know how police are going to act any more, and when they can come into a safe house and do this, well, there are links you know,” Ms Pitman says.

Taupo refuge workers feel betrayed and angry, because they thought they had a good relationship with police.


Te Runanga o Ngati Porou is stamping the country rounding up support for direct negotiations on the East Coast tribe's treaty claims.

Some hapu are fighting the proposal because they say it short circuits the Waitangi Tribunal process and will hand power over the tribe's affairs to an unrepresentative group.

But Te Rau Kupenga, a spokesperson for the runanga, says there is strong support for talks with the Office Of Treaty Settlements

“We've had those who’ve been both for and against but there’s been a strong support for direct negotiations. What people are saying is ‘come on, we don’t want to wait another eight years or 10 years to settle our claims.’ As one of our whanaunga said in Tolaga the other night, ‘get out of grievance mode. Don’t want our children to inherit these grievances. Let’s deal with them now, and let’s start living,’” Mr Kupenga says.

Consultation hui within the Ngati Porou rohe finished this week, and the runanga will talk with members in Hamilton tonight and Auckland over the weekend, in the lead up to a postal vote.


One of the characters of the far north was laid to rest at today at Kareponia marae near Kaitaia.

Ivan "Mussa" Erstich from Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kahu died on Monday when his house near Kaitaia burned down. He was 82.

Sir Graham Latimer, who was at school and in the army with Mr Erstich during the occupation of Japan, says he was a welcome presence at hui throughout the far north, both for his often idisyncratic contributions on the paepae and for making sure everything ran smoothly behind the scenes.

He was also a long term Maori warden, keeping order in the region's pubs and streets.

“Sometimes I used to wonder why someone just didn’t bang him over the ear. He’d get up and threaten anyone who’d come along to stand by the law. That was a very strong policy of his, to stand by the law. He’d go where angels fear to tread. He’ll be a loss. His humour and his wit and on top of it his knowledge made him a tremendous man,” Sir Graham says.


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