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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, October 20, 2008

Election still hurdle for party

The Maori Party seems to be flavour of the month - election month that is - but a Maori lawyer is skeptical the interest can be translated into post-election gains.

Moana Jackson says there's a lot of game playing around MMP.

He says while the Maori Party may be in a position to decide who the next government will be, it's not so long ago it was an outcast.

“Pakeha political commentators and the Pakeha parties suddenly see the Maori Party as being really important. I mean it was only three years ago that the National Party didn’t want to know them and only three years ago that Helen Clark said they were the last cab off the rank,” Mr Jackson says.


Pita Sharples is pouring cold water on the idea the Maori Party will determine the next government.

He says depending on the way the votes go, the party will need to decide whether the interests of its members are best suited by entering a coalition with Labour or National, or continuing to sit on the cross benches.

“It's silly to assume that there’s only going to be one outcome, that the Maori party’s sitting in the middle and they could make a Labour or a National government. I think that’s only one of about 10 options that are available, possible, and I just feel a little fenced in how everybody sees it so narrowly,” Dr Sharples says.


Initiatives to encourage more Maori to take up teaching careers seem to be missing the mark.

The Ministry of Education is offering $10,000 TeachNZ scholarships for Maori language teachers and a $30,000 allowance for fluent Te Reo speakers with previous experience.

Mere Forbes, the manager of Auckland University's Te Korowai Atawhai academic support service, says despite the subsidy only 28 people enrolled this year for the Bachelor of Education Huarahi Mäori.

She says many older Maori students have whanau commitments which clash with study.

“Financially it is tough. I am constantly privy to student narratives about obligations and responsibilities to whanau. Is it enough? Often it’s never enough,” Ms Forbes says.


Ngai Tahu says problems with an E Coli outbreak is affecting the mana of Southland marae.

Murihiku environmental issues spokesperson Michael Skerrit says people have been warned warning against collecting kaimoana from the mouths of the Oreti, Aparima and Mataura rivers.

High levels of faecal coliforms are often detected in the rivers after heavy rains in the region, which has been subject to a big increase in dairy farming and irrigation.

“It affects your mana, not bveing able to provide for your manuhiri. As tangata whenua, we have kaitiaki responsibilities. We’ll be right behind council backing up these initiatives to address this problem,” Mr Skerrit says.


A Bay of Plenty iwi says cultural revitalisation is the main focus of its historic treaty settlement.

Waitaha, a Te Arawa iwi, last week signed an agreement in principle which will give it $7.5 million dollars in economic redress, some land and scenic reserves in the Te Puke and Papamoa area, a pardon for its 19th century ancestor Hakaraia and $3 million for an education endowment in his name, and $500,000 to restore Hei Marae.

Spokesperson Sandy Potaka says the tribe was hard hit in the New Zealand wars.

“We were actually the victims of the scorched earth policies in the 1860s where they burnt down settlements, killed livestock, burnt down the crops so we were left without any economic base. We believe we’ve got to get our cultural base first and then we can work on our social and economic development after that,” Ms Potaka says.

Waitaha is now working on how to transfer reserves and set up a post-settlement body.


Culture took priority over campaigning for the Maori party co-leader this weekend.

Pita Sharples went home to Ngati Kahungunu to oversee the nine kokiri or groups involved in the powhiri for next month's Takitimu Festival.

More than 1500 artists from eight iwi and three Pacific nations associated with the Takitimu canoe are expected at the Waikoko Gardens in Hastings.

Dr Sharples says it's a massive undertaking, with eight challenges happening simultaneously.

“Eight wero go out at once to the different groups and bring them in, and then the arikis are seated on a platform, the paepae, the speakers are there, and then of course the final wero will probably go to King Tuheitia, and they’ll be brought on,” Dr Sharples says.

He's written a new haka for the powhiri.


A champion rower from the 1930s is to be inducted into the Maori Sports Hall of Fame later this year.

John Hoani MacDonald from Picton won gold with the fours in the Empire Games... and carried the flag for New Zealand team at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

He later played rugby, and was selected for both the Maori and the All Black teams on the same day.

After going to England with George Nepia to play professional rugby league, McDonald ended up in the New Zealand Services teams during the war.

Dick Garret, from the Maori Sports Awards, says he was an impressive athlete.

“He was outstanding in tennis, boxing, billiards, wood chopping, you name it. And of course his family, all outstanding athletes, his nephew John, who captained New Zealand basketball, will be receiving that posthumous award on his behalf,” Mr Garrett says.

All Black Leon MacDonald is also part of the whanau.

The Maori Sports Awards will be in Rotorua on the 13th of December.


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