Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Old idea for new bank

The Maori Party wants to see Maori community banks, but it's wary of the amount of government involvement in such institutions.

Plans by the government for a Maori bank funded out of the profits of the Maori Trust Office stalled at the select committee stage, with the Maori Party one of its critics.

But co-leader Tariana Turia says there are examples of successful small-scale lending programmes, such as the Maori Women's Development Incorporation and the Ngai Tai-run credit union which funded 21 whanau into new homes in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

She says the Whanganui Regional Development Board, which she helped to start in the 1980s, also enjoyed early success until it took over the administration of a government loan scheme.

“When the development board had their own money, the interesting this was the repayment rates on those loans were really high. Once Mana Enterprises came along, people asked for greater amounts of money. They didn’t need to have to collateral, which I thought was wrong, and many of those loans fell over,” Mrs Turia says.

The Whanganui Regional Development Board also provided much needed early funding for intitiatives such as the rohe's kura kaupapa and iwi health provider.


The chair of Tauranga's Ngaiterangi iwi says layoffs at Carter Holt Harvey's Mount Maunganui plywood mill will hit Maori in the region hard.

The company is axing 100 jobs at the mill and another 200 at its Putaruru sawmill.

Hauta Palmer says it will have a devastating effect on hapu and whanau close to the Christmas holiday period.

“We're having the elections and they’re handing out all of these nice things but what about for all the people who’ve just lost their jobs and it goes back to that same thing about Maori being last on and first off,” Mr Palmer says.

Many of the Maori workers at the mill may find it hard to get back into paying work.

The Engineers and Northern Distribution Unions will hold a site meeting at Putaruru today to develop a plan to keep parts of the sawmill going.


Hauraki's principal fisheries negotiator wants more attention paid to the eel fishery.

Harry Mikaere says the early settlement of the Maori commercial aquaculture settlement is an opportunity to set some new directions for the industry.

He says overfishing and pressure on habitat has put pressure on the tuna or freshwater eel, and action is needed now.

“We haven't really treated that species well. You’ve almost got to have economic failure of a species before it brings the industry to attention. I think that’s not acceptable or excusable, but it does happen like that,” Mr Mikaere says.

He says tikanga helps Maori find a balance between environmental sustainability and commercial development.


A last minute recovery by New Zealand First would boost the number of Maori in Parliament.

The party's list for the 2008 election includes five Maori in the top ten slots.

If leader Winston Peters fails to take Tauranga but gets the party over the five percent threshhold, Ron Mark at number three and Pita Paraone at number six will extend their parliamentary careers.

A stronger showing could bring back eighth ranked Edwin Perry to the House, after a spell back in the community organising the Wairarapa Maori wardens,

Former television weather man Brendan Horan, who is standing in East Coast, brings up the 10th position.


The Greens industrial relations spokesperson says the world wide economic crisis has hit the South Waikato, and Maori workers are among the first to suffer.

Sue Bradford says the closure of the Carter Holt Harvey sawmill in the town, with the loss of over 200 jobs will have a huge impact on an already struggling community.

She says it's an unwelcome echo of the economic downturn of the late 1980's when many lost jobs in the manufacturing sector.

“It's really sad to see this happen. It’s the centre of economic life for the town. Many Maori workers, will be affected, not just the people working in the mill but their families and all the shops and other businesses around them. What we’re seeing here is the beginning of the recession, even though you’re sitting in the middle of south Waikato you might not realise you’re part of a global situation but I think they are,” Ms Bradford says.

Workers are meeting with unions on the site today in an attempt to find ways to keep parts of the sawmill going.


One of Ngati Porou's cultural treasures is being remembered as someone who always led from the front.

Merekaraka Saani Ngarimu died yesterday aged 86 and is lying in state at Hiruharama Marae in Ruatoria.

She is the only woman to lead the haka Ruaumoko, a task given to her in 1945 by Apirana Ngata, and during her life she schooled thousands of people in waiata ringa, moteatea and other performing arts.

Cousin Amster Reedy says Mrs Ngarimu had a commanding presence.

“She had a wonderful voice and was very authoritative. There were times when I’ve seen her correct people by just standing up the top and singing over them. They didn’t take offence because they were already losing their way but nothing like Saani or Merekaraka to get in there and straighten things onto the pathway again,” he says.

Merekara Ngarimu was last year given a Sir Kingi Ihaka award for her lifetime contribution to Maori performing arts.

Her funeral will be at Hiruharama Marae on Saturday morning.


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