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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 02, 2008

MMP vital to keeping Maori representation up

The Green's sole Maori MP says without a combination of MMP and the Maori seats, there could be no Maori representatives in Parliament.

National is promising to abolish the separate Maori seats if it becomes Government, and cites the number of MPs of Maori origin as one of the reasons they are no longer necessary.

But Metiria Turei says that's because the mixed member proportional voting system means every vote counts, so parties have to reach out to Maori.

“Parties just didn't bother trying to put up Maori MPs before MMP. They just stuck their candidates in the Maori seats, the seats were captured by just one party for a very long time and so we were trapped in this single political representation with a set number determined by people other than ourselves, whereas MMP provides for this alternative way of getting more of us in there,” Ms Turei says.

She says MMP is under attack from both National and Labour, so the Maori seats are needed as a backstop.


A south Auckland Maori police officer says raising the self esteem of young Maori is critical in addressing crime and other social problems.

Glen Compain says his own life turned around after he was given a second chance by his school principal, All Black coach to be Graham Henry.
He says too many young Maori go off the rails because their elders don't look out for them.

“I say to the kids you’re great. Sure you’re with that gang but I can see you being this, I can see you being great, but you need to make the choice, so choices have to come through values so we have to teach our kids what values are, what principles, give them the principles our grandfathers were raised with, honour, respect, loyalty,” Mr Compain says.

He says when young people can't get support from their family, other social groups such as sports clubs can give them a sense of identity.


Meanwhile, the revitalised Maori wardens are attacting new recruits.
Government infusions of cash for training, equipment and administration is giving the 50 year old organisation a greater presence on the streets, especially in places like South Auckland.

Thomas Henry from the Mangere wardens says a drive last weekend brought in 15 new recruits and another half dozen people who said they would be available for day patrols.

He says the recruiting drive was so successful, the Mangere Maori Wardens is repeating the exercise this weekend.

The deputy chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana says Maori and Pacific Island fishing operations could benefit from the creation of a regional Hawaiiki brand.

Ngahiwi Tomoana floated the idea last week at a tuna forum in the Cook Islands.

He says it's something Maori could do to share the benefits of their fisheries settlement with others.

“Might even be the Sealord brand with Hawaiiki underneath it so it’s particularly known from the Pacific. There is currently everything is going into the cannery. People are getting $2 a kilo whereas they could be getting 20, $30 a kilo if it was marketed through Sealord-type arrangements,” Mr Tomoana says.

The Hawaiiki brand is part of his wider aim of reviving the Hawaiiki nation across the South Pacific.


Pita Sharples says a highlight of his first term has been letting Maori know what parliament is really about.

The Maori Party co-leader says the party's routine of reporting back to constituents three times a year has built a much greater appreciation for what the MPs are up against.

He says a re-enactment of the debating chamber was particularly effective.

“We spoke one on one with the locals, you know divide the marae up into Labour and National and have them debate a bill so they can understand how the debating in Parliament works, and more importantly how party politics works, and how you’re stuck with what your party has decided,” Dr Sharples says.

One of his objectives during the coming election campaign is to shed the extra nine kilos he's put on since becoming an MP.


A founder member of Kiwi reggae band Herbs says simplicity was the key to the success of one of its biggest hits.

Slice of Heaven, a collaboration between Herbs and Dave Dobbyn, went to number 1... 22 years ago today.

Created as the theme song of the Footrot Flats movie, it has become an anthem for New Zealand music lovers.

Dilworth Karaka says while Herbs enjoyed success in its own right with hits like Simple for a Smile, Nuclear Waste and Dragons and Demons, the band's backing vocals also helped other artists like Dobby, Tim Finn and Annie Crummer to commercial success.

Those harmonies were honed by years of singing together at parties, and the catchy line in Slice of Heaven was inspired by an unusual source.

“A sheep. It’s something that developed from having that session with Dave Dobbyn in the studio when myself, Charlie Tumahai and going through a few things and the baa baa baa thing turned into da da da. A simple like that, a slight change and there you are, three months it’s a hit single,” Karaka says.

Slice of Heaven won song of the year in 1986 at the New Zealand Music Awards.


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