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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 24, 2008

Election bottom line more honest

Tariana Turia is defending the Maori Party's pre-election release of its bottom line for coalition talks - entrenching the Maori seats so they can't be abolished by a simple majority of MPs.

Some political commentators say it weakens the party's bargaining power, and National's John Key warned bottom lines can lead to backtracking.

Mr Key wants to get rid of the seats by 2014.

Mrs Turia says it's one of the biggest issues for the party and its supporters.

“We would be being dishonest if we didn’t say that it is going to be one of the most significant things we discuss because otherwise what we’re doing is setting our party up for only another six years in Parliament, and I don’t think that’s what Maori voters want,” Mrs Turia says.

She says while it's undeniable Maori voters have a preference for Labour, they should wait and see what is on the table after the election before saying where the Maori Party should give its support.


The chair of the Ahuwheua Trophy says entering the competition for Maori farming excellence can be as valuable as winning it.

Entries have opened for sheep and beef operations to go through regional heats, with the finalists holding open days before the winner is announced next June.

Kingi Smiler says most Maori farming is now done on a large scale through land trusts and incorporations, so the competition highlights the best corporate farming practices.

He says the competition is not just looking for farms that believe they are performing at a high level.

“We're also looking for the spread, for those that it may be their first time and it’s a good opportunity for them to get good feedback on where they’re at so that in two or three years time when they re-enter the competition, they’ve got a very strong show of making the finals,” Mr Smiler says.

The last sheep and beef winner, Pah Hill Station in Ohakune, has since doubled in size by merging with a neigbouring block, and now runs 48,000 stock units.


Politics will take a back seat for Tainui MP Nanaia Mahuta this weekend.
She'll be at the annual Maori national rugby league nationals at Hopuhopu.

Ms Mahuta says the code has been the game of choice for generations of Maori, including King Koroki, who in the 1930's declared it the game for the Maori people.

Champion players of yesteryear will be inducted into the Maori rugby league hall of fame at a gala dinner in Turangawaewae tomorrow night, which will be hosted by King Tuheitia.

“The opportunity to honour our past heroes in rugby league is I think significant because Maori communities have been the backbone of the Rugby League movement in New Zealand and somewhat understate I think in terms of our contribution,” Ms Mahuta says.


The Greens Maori affairs spokesperson has prepared a bill to entrench the Maori seats.

Metiria Turei says all she needs is the numbers to get it passed.

The Maori Party has made it a bottom line of post-election cooperation that the seats will remain unless more than 75 percent of Parliament votes to abolish them - meaning they are likely to remain until Maori indicate they have no more need of them.

Ms Turei says it's an area where the Greens and the Maori Party share common ground.

“We fully support the retention of the seats and the repeal of the Foreshore (and Seabed Act). We don’t do bottom lines any more but that’s always on the table and if they are going to fight hard for those things, that’s great, and it’s important to do that. I’ve got a member’s bill already drafted for entrenching the seats so the legislations ready to go if we can get the numbers in the house, so that would be great,” Ms Turei says.


Fifteen years of research and interviews have gone into a new book on the 28 Maori Battalion to be launched tomorrow.

Nga Tamatoa, the Price of Freedom was put together by a team headed by historian Monty Souter, the director of Tairawhiti Museum.

He says it will be a taonga for the thousand descendants expected in Gisborne tomorrow.

“The phrase that’s been used for the launch is “amohia te mauri”, carry the legacy. I think the descendants will be very proud bit not until they read the book will they really get some insights into what their papas and korouas did, and if it changes their thinking about they opportunities they have got, then I thing the book will have served its purpose,” Dr Souter says.

The launch will include a renenactment of the homecoming march by Maori Battalion C Company survivors from the Gisborne railway station to Te Poho O Rawiri Marae.


Maori will be well served by the numbers entered into this weekend's Auckland senior tennis champs.

Dick Garret, who heads Maori tennis and is a former national seniors champion, says Maori players have had good success in the senior tennis champs over the years.

In Christchurch last year Mosey Harvey won the world over 75 seniors' title, the only New Zealand tennis player to have won a world title.

Mr Garret says other top Maori players like Tamati Reedy, Jack Parekura, Joe Tamati and Veronica Vercoe will be on court this weekend.


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