Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Positive messages for violence change

Organisers of a summit on child abuse believe the Maori community will respond to a positive message.

Hone Kaa from St John's Theological College, which is hosting the hui, says it has attracted a strong line-up of people who have been working on the issues in isolation for years.

He says the aim is to change the mindset within Maori families and communities, and the key to success will be focusing on solutions rather than problems.

“Because if we just tell ourselves that we are abusing our children, we run up against a brick wall within ourselves, but if we tell ourselves there is a solution to this, let’s begin to discover how we might strategise to bring that to fruition, then we are on the right path,” Dr Kaa says.

Representatives from the Ministry of Social Development will attend the last day of the three day hui to hear what strategy has been developed.


Government funding agencies need to be much clearer about what they mean by kaupapa Maori services.

That's the view of Janice Wenn from Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, who earned a doctorate with her study of the interaction between kaumatua and the health services they use.

She says some agencies hide behind the Treaty of Waitangi, rather than spelling out what services need to do.

The 74 year old spoke about her studies at last weekend's commemoration in Taranaki of Maori health advocate and MP Te Rangihiroa.

Her thesis was sparked by her interest in developing health systems that make sense to the people using them.

“I was invited to analyse some of the contracts that Maori health providers held. In fact there were about 62 of them. And each one said you will provide a kaupapa Maori service, and when I asked the funder exactly what they meant by this, they didn't know,” Dr Wenn says.

She is working with Maori health providers to develop values-based frameworks they can apply them to services they develop.


Singing together has given a group of teenagers the chance to see the world.

The 50-strong Wellington based Kotuku Choir is fundraising for a month long trip to the United States, Canada and England, where it will perform and hold workshops.

Director Sharon Thorburn says the choir sings in 12 languages, including a strong Maori component.

“We've got a haka and we do waiata and we’ve got a Maori elder traveling with us to do our karakia before we perform everywhere and at schools in the States and in London we’re doing workshops on teaching Maori. Anyone who is in the choir brings in their whanau to teach us their language and their dance and their song, so everyone learns Maori, everyone learns Samoan, Maltese, Latin, Italian,” Ms Thorburn says.

Many of the children had not sung before they joined the choir at the start of the year, so it has been a huge effort getting their voices up to international standard.


Maori children should be at the centre of all government health policy.

That's the view of Dr Lorna Dyall from Te Kupenga Hauora Maori, the Maori Department within the School of Population Health at Auckland University.

Two reports released yesterday at the Paediatric Society Conference showed huge disparities between the health of Maori and non-Maori children.

Dr Dyall says if policies aren't designed around the needs of Maori, the evidence it that Maori go backwards.

It makes more sense to build policy around those most at need.

“If you're going to consider whose rights should take precedence, Maori children should be at the centre of any policy decisions at a national, regional, local, community or tribal setting, so if I was to develop policy and say who should I focus on, I should be starting with Maori children because their rights are guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi,” Dr Dyall says.

Most of the factors that influence health status are beyond the direct control of the health sector, so all government departments should be audited on how their policies affect Maori children.


The Post Primary Teachers Association says a shortage of applicants is making it harder for schools to maintain depth in their staffrooms.

A PPTA survey found 10 percent of schools had positions open for more than three terms.

President Robin Duff says it's not just a problem in subjects like te reo Maori and technology but in core subjects like English.

He says getting only one job applicant can be as bad as getting none.

“There are a whole range of other areas in the school from keeping a balance within the staff in terms of gender, in terms of ethnicity, in terms of experience, all those factors are simply taken out of a principal’s control and they are with only one candidate left with a take it or leave it situation,” Mr Duff says.

As well as better pay, more effort needs to be put into reducing the workload and stress on new teachers to keep them in the profession.


Te Papa Tongarewa wants to help other museums around the Pacific repatriate ancestral remains.

Sean Mallon, the senior curator of Pacific cultures, has just got back from a workshop at the Australian National Museum in Canberra which discussed common problems among museums in Australasia, Pacific island nations and Timor Leste.

While Te Papa is having good success in its efforts to bring back toi moko and other human remains, smaller Pacific museums struggle to get co-operation from institutions in the northern hemisphere.

He says the biggest barrier is often financial.

“Australia and New Zealand being a little better resources have the opportunity to pursue repatriation quite strongly whereas smaller institutions in places like Papua New Guinea or the Solomons are very restricted in what they can do,” Mr Mallon says.


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