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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hard numbers behind soft policy

A Maori political commentator says National's conciliatory tone in their just released policy on Maori is there for one reason - they can count.

Matt McCarten says National realises that it may need the Maori party, which is the only party yet to align itself with one of the major players to govern.

“What they are trying to do is neutralise the history they have where we’ve normally been Maori bashers, now we’re into the Maori cuddling. They can count. They’ve got no other options. So what you have is tentative steps towards trying to build a relationship. How sincere it is, well a leopard doesn’t change its spots in a day but if you look at the policy, it’s still pretty modest,” Mr McCarten says.

He says National's policy that claims a sharper focus on Maori economic development differs greatly from the 'we are all New Zealanders' tone which saw past leader Don Brash's approval ratings soar among Pakeha.


Meanwhile political commentator Chris Trotter says like many people he was most surprised not to see the Maori party supporting New Zealand First leader Winston Peters at last week's privileges committee meeting.

At the meeting Maori party MP Te Ururoa Flavel voted for Winston Peters to be censured over a political donation from businessman Owen Glen.

Chris Trotter says it is often perception that brings people down in politics.

“My perception and I think a great many Maoris’ perception was ‘leave him alone.’ This guy has carved out a career not in the Maori seats but in the Pakeha seats, in the Pakeha world against enormous odds and our gut feeling is there are powerful interests out to get this guy so don’t you join them. That was the impression I got and the impression the Maori Party conveyed, wittingly or unwittingly, was ‘Don’t worry, we’re not going to let them,’” Mr Trotter says.

He says the Maori party then turned around and abandoned Winston Peters.

Te Ururoa Flavel says Winston had met the criteria for contempt against the House by not declaring the donation and that is why he voted the way he did at the Privileges committee.


Research into the aquaculture industry will have a matauranga Maori element to it.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology are funding a $15 million dollars research over 6 years to add value to the $256 million dollar New Zealand aquaculture industry.

Strategy manager Maori, Pereri Hathaway says Kaitiakitanga and Matauranga Maori are crucial to aquaculture with Maori having a 50 per cent interest in the sector through indirect and private ownership.

“The component of matauranga Maori there, given that a lot of the operators are Maori, knowledge from Maori that would be incorporated into the research so it’s really important that we utilize the clean resources that we have as kaitiaki. Also it’s important that Maori have responsibility for sustainability and making sure that our resources are maintained and sustained in New Zealand,” Mr Hathaway says.

The research is in line with the Aquaculture New Zealand strategy of creating a $1 billion dollar industry by 2025.


A political analyst says the Maori party is playing the right cards in playing the two major parties off against each other.

Matt McCarten says National's recently released Maori policy, with an increased focus on economic development leaves the door open for a post election relationship with the Maori party if this is necessary to govern.

“The serenades, I mean they’ve got to keep an eye on where Maori are at, and so I think they’re playing it right, I think the Maori Party in particular are saying ‘what’s in it for us’ in terms of the relationship, and so I think they get very pragmatic about it, and it does them no harm to play them off against each other,” Mr McCarten says.

This leaves the Maori party in a strong position.


A marae at Northcote on Auckland's North Shore is teaming up with the Auckland University of Technology in the first partnership of its kind.

Awataha Marae spokesman Anthony Wilson says the marae already has a carving school and offers a Maori language course.

He says the relationship with AUT will allow young Maori on these courses further educational opportunities.

“Not only is it a good idea that they come and get in contact with their wairua Maori but they also then have those credited against NZQA framework. When the tauira come here and get that self esteem, they build that self esteem and mana, they can consider that education as a pathway again, and if AUT are here providing a pathway, some of the tauira can then go on to that course,” Mr Wilson says.

The move will reiterate the traditional role of the marae as being the hub of the community.

He says the carving school has attracted around 20 students, many of whom are young men who have fallen through the cracks of the education system.


A strategy released by Aquaculture New Zealand sees Maori playing a huge part in turning aquaculture into a $1 billion dollar industry by 2025.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Maori strategy manager Pereri Hathaway says as part of the strategy the Foundation is investing around $15 million dollars over the next six years to research shellfish aquaculture.

“The vision of that strategy is to reach $1 billion in sales by 2025 so this research goes a long way towards supporting that strategy. Maori have an estimated 50 percent interest in aquaculture through a mix of indirect and direct ownership through Sealord for example as well as private ownership through iwi and hapu-owned operations,” Mr Hathaway says.

The research will be a mixture of laboratory and ocean testing as well as hatchery trials and aquaculture operator interviews.


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