Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ultimatum megaphone politics

National's leader John Key is warning a potential coalition partner of setting bottom lines too early.

The Maori Party says the price of its support for the next government would include entrenchment of the Maori seats, so they could not be abolished without the approval of 75 percent of MPs.

National's policy is to get rid of the seats as soon as all historic treaty claims are settled, which it says could be by 2014.

John Key says it is campaign season megaphone politics from the Maori Party.

“MMP is such a matrix of parties that can come together that once you start spelling out bottom lines you get to a point where everything you announce you have to start back-tracking about whether it really is a bottom line and how bottom the bottom line is so from our point of view we’ve got a process. I think that’s a better position to be in. The process is that if we’re in a position to put together a government, then after the election we will talk to the relevant players,” Mr Key says.

He says National has a good relationship with the Maori party.


Meanwhile, a rousing haka in downtown Sydney has signaled the opening of the first overseas polling booth for expatriates.

Yesterday's haka was organised by Ian Gemmel from the New Zealand Your Rights at Work Committee, made up of delegates from trade unions in Australia.

He says it was a way to encourage the 80-thousand Sydney-based kiwis to vote.

New Zealanders living in Australia can vote if they have returned home at least once in the past 3 years.


Tauranga Maori are taking a break from their raupatu claims to celebrate themselves.

The Tauranga Moana - Tauranga Tangata festival starting today features a rangatahi play, 'Tauranga's Got Talent', a top town style inter-marae competition and a kapa haka contest.

Organiser Jack Thatcher says there's also a parade on Saturday, where the various marae will march with their flags.

He says it's about lifting up people's spirits after years of Waitangi Tribunal hearings on the confiscations of the 1860s and their aftermath.

“We were talking about what the raupatu was doing to our community, Everyone was in that grievance mode. What we wanted to do was have a festival that celebrated who we are as a people living here in Tauranga Moana - Tauranga Tangata, getting out of grievance mode and into celebration,” Mr Thatcher says.

A moko wananga and a taupatupatu debate will add to the fun.


The Maori Council could be in for a substantial overhaul, as a result of a symposium looking at the achievements of its long-serving chairman, Sir Graham Latimer.

Many speakers said there was still a role for the council, despite the rise of iwi-based organisations over the past 20 years.

Former Maori Trustee Neville Baker said the chair of the Maori Council has a unique statutory role which Sir Graham used in the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal to win advances for Maori in areas like broadcasting, fisheries and forestry.

He says some kind of national organisation is needed to make sure Maori views are heard, things Maori treasure are protected and the Crown is kept honest.

“There is a need to have an entity that can actually challenge the Crown, that can actually maintain that the Crown is of good behaviour and that it is responsible to those things that have been set in place in the past,” Mr Baker says.

He says it's up to Maori to decide the future of the council.


Former Alliance MP Willie Jackson is questioning where the Maori Party is getting its political strategy.

The party has set out bottom lines for post election discussions, including repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, compulsory treaty training for new migrants and the entrenchment of the Maori seats.

Mr Jackson says such demands will make it difficult for the party to work with National, if it wins more seats than Labour.

“I wouldn't have done it because I think you need to be in a real position where you can negotiate and I would have left it for after the election so you could have played the two parties off. They forced National to say basically ‘we can’t do this’ so it starts restricting their bargaining power, their negotiating power, I wouldn’t have done it, but I’m not in charge of the Maori Party am I,” Mr Jackson says.


The Minister of Youth Affairs says the Government's decison to build nine preschools alongside existing South Auckland schools will be repaid in years to come.

Nanaia Mahuta says children who attend preschool are better prepared for the challenges of primary and secondary school.

She says facilities should boost the number of Maori and Pacifika children in the region in preschool education, which is relatively low.


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