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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tuhoe again victims of police action

A prominent lawyer says the further charges laid against five of the Urewera 17 is a further attack on the Tuhoe people.

The Crown intends to charge Tuhoe activist Tame Iti and four others with participating in an organised criminal group, on top of the arms charges they face in connection with camps held in Te Urewera last year.

Queens Counsel Peter Williams has been working with Ruatoki residents on a civil action over the way the police lock-down the Eastern Bay of Plenty settlement to arrest one of the 17.

He says the case has affected more than those arrested.

“The real victims of this have been the Tuhoe people, the people of the Urewera and I find the actions by the military and the police involved completely disgraceful and the obsession that the prosecution have with trying to make the charges as serious as possible totally inexcusable,” Mr Williams says.

He says the latest charges seem like a desperate attempt to justify the huge cost of the exercise so far, and the actions of the Crown prosecutor need to come under scrutiny.


The Maori Party will make an all-out effort this week in the three Maori seats held by Labour.

Co-leader Pita Sharples says the party is on tract to win Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Hauraki-Waikato and Te Tai Tonga, giving it a clean sweep.

He says despite challenging sitting MPs... including two cabinet ministers... its candidates are polling well.

“The only one that’s slightly behind is Hauraki-Waikato and that’s only 0.6 percent and I’ve got a good ground feeling about Hauraki-Waikato in terms of the Maori Party so that one’s certainly within reach and the others are polling very well, so I’m pretty optimistic we're on the right track,” Dr Sharples says.


The developer refurbishing the historic Britomart precinct in downtown Auckland has been chosen to receive this year's Outstanding Maori Business Leader award from the University of Auckland Business School.

Manuka Henare, the school's associate dean of Maori and Pacific development, says Peter Cooper has links to Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri and Te Rarawa.

He grew up in Kaitaia and Te Hapua before getting a law degree from Auckland University.

He worked as a lawyer and as chief executive of LD Nathan before its merger with Lion Breweries.

Since 1989 Mr Cooper has been based in the United States, specialising in urban redevelopment projects which combine commercial, retail and residential use.

Dr Henare says he stands out because of his interest in ecology, the environment and heritage, as he is demonstrating in projects in Tai Tokerau.

“He's funded archaeological digs around Taitokerau, especially where his companies are working, on pa sites, early missionary sites around the Kerikeri area and been quite diligent in ensuring that as land gets developed, anything of historical importance doesn't get lost,” Dr Henare says.

The Mira Szászy Maori Business Leaders Awards will be presented at a gala dinner at Auckland University on November 19,


Ngati Porou is looking forward to having a greater say in administering coastal resources and fisheries on the East Coast.

The iwi on Friday signed an agreement in principle with the Crown to recognise its customary rights to foreshore and seabed.

Legislation will be introduced in the next Parliament setting out those rights and requiring local authorities and government departments to work with the iwi its 48 hapu when setting rules and policies.

Runanga chairperson Api Mahuika says it restores to the iwi the mana which had been shadowed by the passing of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

“It gives us in terms of permission rights the right to say yes or no to any plans brought about under the Resource Management Act in terms of our foreshore and seabed. In terms of how the mana operates, it allows our people to determine particular bylaws in terms of fishing which is appropriate to their respective takutai moana,” Mr Mahuika says.

He says the agreement in principle recognises that iwi are the treaty partner, rather than pan-Maori organisations or the Maori Party.


A Tuhoe treaty negotiator says further charges laid against Tame Iti highlight the importance of resolving the iwi's claims.

Iti and four others of the 17 people still facing arms charges stemming from last year's so call terror raids are to be charged with being members of a criminal group, a charge which is usually associated with commercial fraud.

Tamati Kruger says the charges could also affect the claim negotiations, which are about the Bay of Plenty iwi's relationship with the Crown.

“Over the last 170 years, that relationship has been the worst of all associations by the Crown with any iwi and it continues to be bad so the negotiations become a lot more urgent and relevant because you’re no longer talking about history, are you. It's current,” Mr Kruger says.

He says the fresh charges have undermined efforts by Tuhoe to build a relationship with police after last year's raids.


The Greens says want more of the health budget to go towards prevention.

MP Metiria Turei says $3 billion a year is spent treating preventable illnesses.

She says it's better to treating people before they get into serious trouble, and the Greens want at least 10 percent of the health budget going to programmes like free annual health checks which can pick up health issues like mate huka or diabetes.

“And this is especially important for Maori, because many of these issues are poverty-related health issues, poor diet, lack of warm secure housing, those sorts of issues, and we can resolve those health problems if we put in preventative health measures early rather than waiting for people to become seriously sick,” Ms Turei says.

The Greens would also like to see a free annual dental check.


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