Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Prison schemes need support

A recently appointed Families Commissioner is calling for Maori to play a stronger role in the prison system and methods for dealing with prisoners.

Kim Workman, a former head of Corrections and at times strong critic of sentencing decisions as head of the Prison Fellowship organisation, says Maori generated solutions to address high rates of incarceration among Maori have been stonewalled by a lack of government support.

“People are grappling with the issue and they need to an Maori in particular have really positive ideas, I believe. I’ve seen some wonderful Maori programmes. They’re not being funded adequately and they’re not being recognised adequately,” Mr Workman says.

He says National's call to make it tougher for prisoners to get parole which will require the construction of a new prison is predictable and politically inspired when what is needed is rehabilitation programmes to curb re-offending.


Nelson based taonga Puoro expert Richard Nunns is hoping he won’t have problems at border security when he leaves for Europe next week.

He says after two years of discussions he now has European Union dispensation to take his traditional Maori instruments across borders despite a convention aimed at protecting endangered species.

The musican, who along with Hirini Melbourne is credited with sparking a revival in the interest in traditional Maori instruments, says because many of the taonga are made from whalebone he has to get special certification of his instruments.

“Sadly the agreement for this trip is a one off. You’ve got to do the whole business again if we want to do it again, but it’s been a huge learning curve as a lot of my trips overseas have been with the puoro, you only need one person at a border control and they have absolute power,” Mr Nunns says.

He will play seven concerts with the New Zealand String Quartet and record works with Persian and Turkish musicians.


An exhibition of Maori art in the United States will open doors into the American market for Maori artists according to one of the organisers.

Toi Maori operations manager Tamahou Temara says the Small Treasures exhibition in San Francisco this week is showcasing the best Maori art has to offer.

“The best of our art from the best of our Maori artists from all corners of this country and we’re pushing their art into that market there so if their art is that good and people buy it over there then than might open a market for our artists to deal directly with museums and galleries over in America,” Mr Temara says.

Artists including Derek Lardelli, Edna Pahewa and Turumakina Duley are attending the two-day event.


Political commentator John Tamihere says there is a misguided public perception that the Maori party will choose whom it will do business with after the election.

He says that decision will be made by others.

“See Maori people don’t make that decision. We’re a minority. By and large other populations make the decision as to who the Maori Party is going to have to negotiate with and do a deal with, And so it’s no longer a two horse race. It’s actually a three, four, could be even a five horse race, and the key to that is where in the quinella and the trifecta maybe does the Maori Party run,” Mr Tamihere says.

The former Labour MP and head of Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust says the Maori party are playing the right strategy by leaving the door open for post election discussions with both major parties.


Meanwhile National's co-Maori affairs spokesperson Tau Henare has defended the party's policy of getting rid of the Maori seats saying they ghettoise Maori.

This is expected to be a major point of discussion if National and the Maori party do get into post-election discussions to form the next government.

Tau Henare says that while many Maori want to retain the seats because of the voice its gives them at the same time the seats have their drawbacks.

“I personally think we should stop ghettoizing ourselves and also I think we should stop letting off the hook all those MPs down there in Wellington that because you’ve got Maori seats they don’t have to worry about Maori issues. Every MP should have to worry about Maori issues just as they worry about other issues in their areas,” Mr Henare says.

As an MP he wants to be involved with issues of a general nature and not just Maori issues.


Taonga Puoro expert Richard Nunns says more work needs to be done to safeguard passage for iconic Maori traditional instruments.

The Nelson based musician who is off to Europe for seven concerts with the New Zealand String Quartet to perform original compositions by Maori composer Gillian Whitehead says there is an ongoing problem transporting his instruments.

He says this is especially so for those derived from whalebone, as it contravenes an international convention to protect the exploitation of endangered species.

“They want to stop poaching and they want to stop killing of these creatures for bone and perfumes and all the things and I agree with that but it also locks up all our taonga and prevents them traveling and moving and I think they do understand now these are inalienable treasures of this country of ours, Aotearoa and they’re like children, we would never give them away, we would never attempt to sell them, we wouldn’t smuggle them, they’re coming back here,” Mr Nunns says.

He says while there is dispensation for this trip the same time consuming process of gaining endorsement from kaumatua and providing detailed photographic catalogues to gain EU approval will have to be undertaken again in the future.


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