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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trustee $35m putea eyed for new bank

The Government is eyeing $35 million of profits built up by the Maori Trustee as the basis for a new Maori development bank.

The Maori Trustee and Maori Development Amendment Bill, tabled in the House last week with no fanfare, proposes a radical restructure of the trustee, who currently administers more than 100,000 hectares of Maori land.

It proposes to use the money to set up a statutory corporation, Maori Business Aotearoa New Zealand, to further Maori economic development.

The corporation will be overseen by a board appointed by the ministers of Finance and Maori Affairs.

The Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, denies it's a grab for Maori money.

“We are not grabbing the money. The money’s being put in more active use for Maori. It’s not the government taking the money. The government doesn’t want the money. It doesn’t have the money, doesn’t own the money, wants that money more actively used. At the moment it’s very passive money,” Dr Cullen says.

As well as the $35 million from the Maori Trustee, the Government intends to contribute a similar amount in the new corporation, and there could be contributions from other Maori organisations in future.


Maori fishing interests are calling for Biosecurity New Zealand to stop the spread of an Australian virus that threatens the paua industry.

Peter Douglas from Te Ohu Kaimoana says tighter border controls and an education campaign are needed to stop people bringing in anything which may contain traces of Abalone Virus Ganglioneuritis or AVG.

Any fishing gear or water sports equipment such as surfboards, wetsuits and diving gear which has been used along the Victoria coastline must be cleaned and dried before leaving the infected area.

Any shells or stones collected from the coast should be confiscated at the border.

Mr Douglas says paua contributes millions of dollars a year to the Maori economy.

“It's not just a commercial species. It’s something that features in all components of the fisheries. It’s a recreational fish for a lot of people. It’s a customary fish in terms of the things we gather when we have hui and things like that as well,” Mr Douglas says.


Rangitahi in south Auckland are creating their own online social networking space.

The Haps website has been put together by teenagers at Computer Clubhouse 274 - an after-school drop in centre in Otara which is backed by Clover Park Middle School and Te Whanau o Tupuranga.

Mike Usmer from the Computer Clubhouse Trust says the site, which is due to go live early next year, will try to take the energy kids put into online networking and use it to foster learning.

“What we're about is creating a learning model that is created by our community for our community and it is relevant to our culture and the way we do things, so this is just an extension to that through the virtual space of technology,” Mr Usmar says.

He says Otara is under-served compared to other communities, so Haps is a ways to extend its resources.


Maori are signing up to an alliance with other indigenous groups around the world.

23 iwi and hapu, mostly from the Mataatua confederation, put their signatures to the Treaty of Indigenous Nations at a ceremony in Whakatane yesterday.

Aroha Mead, who signed the treaty on behalf of Ngati Awa in the homeland of the Lummi Indian Nation in Washington in August, says other iwi were there to observe and may sign next year.

She says the United League of Indigenous Nations aims to strengthen the voice of indigenous communities.

“There is clearly a political aspect that goes with the treaty, and that’s about coming together as a collective of indigenous peoples in the international scene and being able to provide an independent voice for ur concerns on issues such as climate change, globalisation, cultural and intellectual property rights," Ms Mead says.


National might seek the help of some of its former ministers to accelerate treaty settlements.

Leader John Key says settlement negotiations need people of mana in both the Maori and Pakeha worlds.

He says while iwi send senior people to negotiate their claim, too often they are met by junior officials.

“The people like a Doug Graham or a Doug Kidd, there’s various people out there that I think we could put in there to negotiate because, with the greatest respect to OTS, there’s been some pretty junior people involved, they’re changing all the time,. Maori are putting up in good faith their kaumatua and very senior people on their side,” Mr Key says.

He says the treaty process is bogged down by a lack of qualified historians and the under-resourcing of the Waitangi Tribunal.


An internet site for marae to share their stories has struck a chord.

Director Tahi Tait says naumaiplace.com has taken off since its launch three months ago, with more than 100 marae around the North Island having pages up.

He says marae are embracing the chance to reach whanau living away from the area and are filling the site with a wide range of content.

“Put up video, audio files, waiata, photographs, to the minutes of their last committee meeting, so there’s a lot of transparency. The range of content that’s been put on is quite phenomenal,” Mr Tait says.

He was speaking from today's Digital Future Summit in Auckland.


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