Waatea News Update

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coalition three years in the making

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says his party's deal with the incoming National Government was a long time in the making.

Observers and even some of the party's supporters were surprised how quickly the proposed confidence and supply agreement with National came together, especially after its pre-election promises to go back to members before it started talking.

But Dr Sharples says there was a standing invitation from John Key for the parties to work together.

“He suggested this throughout the three years and we weren’t able to publicise that or to make any moves on that because we were remaining cross bench and able to criticize anyone both sides but as parliamentary parties do they have cross party talks throughout the year so we had a number of talks, particularly with National and Labour and Greens, over those three years, and always the talks with National were totally amicable,” Dr Sharples says.

The Maori Party bargained for ministerial portfolios outside of Cabinet in areas where it believes it can make a difference.


Hauraki is throwing its weight in behind a Maori Party-National coalition.

Trust board spokesperson John McEnteer says the coalition is heading in the right direction to repeal Labour's Seabed and Foreshore Act.

Takutaimoana is a significant part of Hauraki's treaty claims, because the iwi was one of the first to have its foreshore and seabed taken off it during the gold rushes of the 1860s.

Mr McEnteer says his iwi wants to talk to a Government which is willing to look at its issues.

“It's setting the framework for the discussions to occur and that’s certainly a very stark contrast to the intransigence that Labour has shown when they’ve been dealing with us in this region on these matters, so that’s got to be good from our point of view,” Mr McEnteer says.

He says even though sitting Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta trounced the Maori Party's Angeline Greensill by 1000 votes, there is still significant support for the Maori Party in the Hauraki Waikato electorate.


The compiler of a collection of Taitokerau sayings wants young people to pick up the korero of their ancestors.

Tahuhu Korero is being launched about now at the Sir James Henare Research Centre at Auckland University.

Centre co-director Mereta Kawharu says the proverbs, tauparapara and waiata are a way to explore the landscape and its people and tribes.

She says the 200 sayings are just a sampler of what the north has to offer the language.

“I guess with any project this could be a lifetime. I could have got a lot more. But we probably spent the best part of two years on this. It’s the beginning of a new project really. That’s to try and convince our young people the worth and the value of what's in the book,” Dr Kawharu says.

Tahuhu Korero: The Sayings of Taitokerau is published by Auckland University Press.


Pita Sharples says the Maori Party's confidence and supply agreement with National gives it the freedom to criticise the Government on some issues.

The party's five MPs have fanned out across the country to win support from members for the proposed deal, which includes two ministers outside Cabinet and further talks on the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the future of the Maori seats.

Dr Sharples says there has to be give and take, but there is also considerable freedom for the Maori Party in the agreement.

“If we have a ministerial or a subministerial in a particular area, then of course we can’t criticize, but in all other areas we’re allowed to hold the government to acount. Anything outside of our portfolios, anything at all that the Government comes up with that we don’t like, we would obviously signal our intention to oppose it but we would oppose it in the House.

Dr Sharples says John Key privately made it clear soon after taking over National's leadership that he would be willing to work with the Maori party.


While Hastings resounds to the sounds of the Takitimu Festival, over the hill the descendants of another ancestral waka are gathering.

Palmerston North held a civic powhiri today for Rangitaane decendants.
Reunion organiser Chris Whaiapu says more than a thousand people are expected over the weekend for sports events, workshops and tours of the Manawatu.

He says Maori with Rangitaane whakapapa are spread far and wide, and the last time the iwi was together was probably 800 years ago when the Kuruhaupo sailed to Aotearoa.


The Kiwis' prospects against Great Britain tomorrow night could hinge on how well Thomas Leuluai handles the shift to the front row.

Leuluai, who has Maori and Samoan whakapapa, has played most of his career at scrum half, but takes the field in Brisbane as hooker for the Rugby League World cup semi final.

Former Warrior centre Clinton Toopi says the Wigan player will not let the Kiwis down.

Toopi is considering a switch to Rugby Union once he recovers from a major knee injury.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foreshore review part of deal

A review... rather than the repeal... of the Foreshore and Seabed Act may be on the cards if the Maori Party signs up with a National-led government.

Back in 2004 it was the reason Tariana Turia quit Labour and forced a by-election before forming her own party.

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell says even though National has not committed to repealing the legislation, there are encouraging signs.

“As far as we understand it they are willing to make some moves as regards finding a way forward on the foreshore and seabed. That’s probably the best I can explain it,” Mr Flavell says.

The Maori Party may have an ally in Rodney Hide's ACT Party, which saw the Foreshore and Seabed Act as an attack on Maori property rights.

The party is holding hui through the country to get support from its members to give National support on confidence in supply in exchange for two ministerial posts outside cabinet.


Carbon trading could provide the impetus for a joint venture between Maori and Australian Aboriginal landowners.

Former Ngati Porou Forests chief executive Chris Insley says Aboriginal leaders have been watching Maori economic success and are keen to forge relationships.

His new indigenous economic development consultancy, 37 Degrees South, is working at bringing the groups together.

“We as Maori are pretty sophisticated in terms of what we are doing. The Aboriginal people have tuned into that. They are very keen to form partnerships and relationships with us as Maori. Now I’ve been invited to go over there and talk about a potential large joint venture between Aboriginal and Maori,” Mr Insley says.

Other indigenous nations are also keen to see how Maori can help them develop economically.


Almost 200 proverbs from the north have been collected into a new book being launched tonight at Auckland University's Sir James Henare Research Centre.

Tahuhu Korero: The Sayings of Taitokerau was put together by the centre's co-director, Mereta Kawharu, building on work done in the 1980s by Maori Affairs Department staffers Jane McRae and Tom Parore.

She says there are many ways the book can be helpful to people interested in understanding the ancestral landscape.

“One is to explain to those who might have heard these proverbs or sometimes if you hear them in marae talk or whaikorero, they might be tauparapara as well or even waiata, is to interpret them if they might have heard them and know them sort of but not really, and also for those who don’t know them and there many proverbs that aren’t known and the associated stories aren't known either,” Dr Kawharu says.

The next challenge may be to get younger speakers to use the sayings.


Te Aupouri will this morning lay to rest one of its leading tribal scholars, Te Ikanui Fisher Kapa, who died in Wellington this week at the age of 70.

Mr Kapa went to the capital in 2000 when Te Aupouri's taonga were featured at Te Papa, and stayed on for a permanent job at the museum.

Waka builder Hekenukumai Busby says his friend was generous with the knowledge he had been given by elders in the 1950s and 60s.

“There's quite a few guys that were half chosen and some of the elders passed their knowledge over to him and he was doing pretty well lately. He was back here just a few weeks ago with a group of young people teaching them a few of the old waiata,” Mr Busby says.

The funeral service for Fisher Kapa will be held at Potahi Marae in Te Kao this morning.

He poukorero no Te Aupouri kua ngaro. Moe mai Te Ikanui


The ground shook in Hastings yesterday as 2008 Ngati Kahungunu performed a mass haka to welcome desendants of the Takitimu canoe to a four-day family reunion and festival.

Seven iwi and six Pacific islands have ties to the Takitimu waka which came from Hawai'iki to New Zealand about 700 years ago.

Up to twenty thousand people are expected at the Hawke's Bay Showground over the weekend.

As well as kapa haka, there'll be an arts and crafts village, an art trail, exhibitions, ta moko, and wananga on the whakapapa of the waka.

Modern musical tastes will also be catered for... with performances from Ardijah, Spacifix, Hinewehi Mohi and Jamoa Jam.


A South Auckland violence prevention worker says Maori need practical solutions rather than more talk about tino rangatiratanga.

The first of five Mauri Oho, Mauri Ora whanau violence prevention wananga is being held today at Manurewa marae.

Suzanne Pene says it will suggest ways to address violence within the family and expose people to some of the services available.

There will also be tips on ways to feed a family on a tight budget and how to soothe crying babies with mirimiri or traditional massage.

“We're kind of not here to say ‘you should do this, you should do that,’ but whatever part of the journey they are on, we are going to have support people alongside to help them.

“We constantly talk about tino rangatiratanga, Te Tiriti o Waitangi without asking ourselves the practical things our whanau probably need right now,” Ms Pene from the South Auckland Family Violence Prevention Network says.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Labour to be Opposition Maori voice

The former Maori affairs minister says Labour will have a major role representing the views of Maori from the Opposition benches.

Parekura Horomia says the speed with which a support deal is coming together between the Maori Party and National has surprised many voters, and indicates a lot more groundwork was done than was revealed during the election campaign.

He says the Maori Party doesn't have a monopoly on Maori opinion and advocacy.

“For every one person who voted for the Maori Party, three voted for us so we’ve got a major representation of Maori views so we understand they are supportive of what we generally did with them. Not saying some thought we had flaws,” Mr Horomia says

He says claims by Maori Party and National MPs that Labour did nothing for Maori during its nine years in Government have no substance, and voters will find if National tries unwinding the gains.


Meanwhile, the low voter turn out in the Maori electorates could soon be a thing of the past.

Only 55 percent of enrolled voters in the Maori seats cast their ballots on Saturday, compared with a national average of just under 75 percent.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and Indigenous Studies at Canterbury University, says there's a wave of engaged rangatahi coming through who could turn the tide.

He says young people at events such as the Manu Korero secondary school speech competitions show political awareness and an interest in how tino rangatiratanga can work within a democracy.

“I've heard kids speak about that at my daughter’s primary school and I think that there is a great awareness of politics emerging in our younger generation but that generation is not yet of voting age but they will come along in the next election and the election after that,” Mr Taonui says.


A Ngati Kahungunu scientist has received a top award for his work developing free software that gives statisticians a powerful way to see data in visual formats.

Ross Ihaka from Auckland University's Department of Statistics picked up his Pickering prize at the Royal Society of New Zealand's annual award dinner.

The software, known is R, is now maintained and developed by a worldwide network of developers.

Dr Ihaka is working on a new generation of software to handle large volumes of data.


The Maori Party's Waiariki MP says securing the long term survival of the Maori seats is driving the likely link up with National.

The party is holding hui round the country asking members to endorse a deal which will give it ministerial positions outside of cabinet, in return for supporting National on confidence and supply.

Te Ururoa Flavell says the kai is on the table and there's little room for further negotiation.

He says legal advice on entrenching the Maori seats indicated the issue should be treated as part of a wider picture.

“In the end it’s part of a bigger issue and that’s around constitutional issues and where our people fit into that. That’s where we want to move top find a way of looking at the bigger constitutional issue about Maori representation in Parliament rather than just focus on the seats, so there’s a possibility of us being able to move into that discussion,” Mr Flavell says.

There could also be a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, rather than a guaranteed repeal.


A Maori forester says Maori must get involved in global carbon trading.

Chris Insley, the former head of Ngati Porou Forests and now director of economic development consultancy 37 Degrees South, says many Maori land-based organisations are nervous about the issue because of its complexity.

He says understanding the Kyoto Protocol and New Zealand's emissions trading system opens the door to a $90 billion dollar a year industry.

“Most of our economic activity is premised around our interest in land based activities like farming, forestry, increasingly our marine activities like fishing. All of these primary sector activities lend themselves to some economic activity or some new risk, and Maori don’t have much opportunity other than to take a keen interest in this,” Mr Insley says.


The Museum of New Zealand is studying records of early European contact to link human Maori remains back to their rightful iwi.

Later this month Manchester Museum in England will repatriate a skull, jaw and fish hook or hei matau made of human bone.

Researcher Nicola Smith says the items were donated to Manchester in 1884 by a Mr Slater.

That's a clue that may help identify where they were collected, using some of the files held by Te Papa.

“Lists of doctors who worked in New Zealand in the 1840s and ships that traveled through our waters so perhaps we could trace a name, link them to one of the ships so we can link up where the koiwi have been,” Ms Smith says.

Te Papa staff are in Manchester preparing for the return of the koiwi on the 24th of November.

Henare pushes smarter spending

National's Maori Affairs spokesperson says smarter spending on education will benefit Maori students.

Tau Henare told the National Urban Maori Authorities' 21st Century Education Hui in Manukau about some of National's plans for more testing and a greater concentration on reading, writing and counting skills.

He says the sector needs a rethink.

“Let's figure out where we’re going wrong. Let’s figure out where we need to put the funding. Because in the past, especially the last nine years, it’s just been a willy nilly confetti effect, just throw it up into the wind and hopefully it will help somebody. Well that’s not the approach the National Party and this National led government is going to take.
Mr Henare says.

Initiatives like a trade training school in south Auckland, scrapping the schools plus policy to keep kids in school and rolling out the Te Kotahitanga professional development programme for teachers will help.


Meanwhile, National's other Maori spokesperson is relishing the prospect of working with the Maori Party.

Georgina Te Heuheu says the number of Maori in the National Party caucus has jumped to seven, with Simon Bridges taking the Tauranga seat... and Hekia Parata, Paul Quinn and Aaron Gilmore coming to Parliament on the list.

That means it now has one more Maori MP than Labour.

The Tuwharetoa lawyer says even though National doesn't need the Maori Party to govern, Prime Minister elect John Key is sincere in his desire to engage with Maori

“There's a commitment to Maori who clearly are a growing force in our nation and key to some of the things he wants to do in terms of getting the economy growing, those sorts of things. You need Maori on board and you need Maori participating, as for all other New Zealanders, to those things going,” Mrs te Heuheu says.


A million dollar boost in its wage bill has cut into the profits of West Auckland urban Maori Authority Te Whanau o Waipareira.

The trust, which delivers health, education and social services for a range of government agencies, has reported an 850 thousand dollar profit on revenue of $10.2 million.

While that's down on last year's $3 million surplus, the 2007 result was boosted by asset sales as the trust repaired its balance sheet after years of mismanagement.

Chief executive John Tamihere says the rebuilding has included investment in systems and people, as it tries to keep competitive with other providers.

“The Government sector under Labour rewarded its workers extraordinarily well and at the same time they never rewarded our contracts. So a number of my better workers are poached. For instance, the Auckland District Health Board offers one of my health workers $150,000 a year to go there. I’m paying her $75,000. How does that work?” Mr Tamihere says,

Waipareira is now ready to put its flagship family management plan in place, bringing together several of its contract streams.


A former Labour cabinet minister says the Labour-led government's education policies were a failure for Maori.

John Tamihere is talking to the 21st Century Education Hui in Manukau about the need for Maori to take control of their own education.

He says there has been years of missed opportunities, with policies like Schools Plus designed to keep children a failing school system for longer.

“Nine years of the greatest economic stimulation and xx this country has ever produced and over that period 86 percent of Maori children will not get near a tertiary campus because they fail schooling systems. Half of Maori boys won’t. You bring policies like Schools Plus and other things in, you squirt our people out into criminality or low skill jobs,” Mr Tamihere says.

Urban Maori Authorities will be demanding changes of the new government, based on the solutions which have come out to the three education hui they have held this year.


A constructive Opposition is the role Metiria Turei sees for the Greens when the new Parliament convenes.

The party's Maori Affairs spokesperson says in its 12 years in Parliament Green MPs have worked constructively with National on issues of mutual concern.

This time it may be harder if National winds back programmes the Greens won from the Labour-led government.

“The billion dollar green homes fund that was designed to insulate all low income and middle income homes is going to be ditched and they are going to use that money essentially to subsidise electric cars for people who can afford to buy brand new electric cars. I mean they are going to do stupid things like that,” Ms Turei says.

The Greens still hope to make some small gains in the National-dominated Parliament.


The Pacific strands of Takitimu whakapapa have come together in Heretaunga.

Takitimu Festival organiser Tama Huata says people from Samoa, Tonga, Rarotonga, French Polynesia and Aoteraroa gathering in Hastings to celebrate their links back to the waka.

There will be wananga on Pacific wakapapa, history, waiata and karakia, followed by cultural exchanges.

“This festival gives us the opportunity to wananga and celebrate together, celebrate ourselves and celebrate our arts and culture and then to actually transverse the world in the way our ancestors transversed the Pacific to arrive in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Mr Huata says

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Education crusade on the agenda

Expect more tests and a crusade on numeracy and literacy.

That's the prescription National Maori affairs spokesperson Tau Henare gave to the National Urban Maori Authorities' 21st Century Education Hui in Manukau today.

He says the past nine years have seen money thrown at education like confetti, with little positive result, and changes are coming.

“I'm looking forward to the establishment of some national standards. I'm looking forward to the crusade we’re going to launch on literacy and numeracy skills because in these economic times, hard times and uncertain times, those are the basic skills that you’re going to have to have to build communities and to build families,” Mr Henare says.

He expects the National government to do an across the board roll out of Te Kotahitanga, a professional development programme which addresses the way teachers interact with Maori students in the classroom.


The Green Party rejects suggestions its candidate cost Labour's Mahara Okeroa his Te Tai Tonga seat.

The southern Maori electorate was won with an election night margin of 684 votes by the Maori Party's Rahui Katene.

Dora Roimata Langsbury collected 1803 votes for herself and 1219 party votes for the Greens.

Metiria Turei, who contested the seat in 2005, says the Greens will continue to stand for the Maori electorates.

“The Maori seats are important to us. We want to stand in them. We respect them. We think that they are a good thing to have and the idea that they should only ever be contested by two parties is just ridiculous. And obviously people really did want to vote for an alternate candidate and they did. I’ve very proud of what Dora did. She increased our party vote,” Ms Turei says.

She says the Green Party is usually accused of taking votes from the Maori Party, so it's a bit rich to accuse it of costing Labour the seat.


Kaipara hapu Ngati Torehina is hoha at the stink of cow dung wafting across its marae.

Spokesperson Manga Patuawa says the cows cross State Highway 12 in front of Taita Marae to get to their milking shed, with their effluent often flowing onto marae land.

He says the farm has expanded from 200 to 700 cows, without the Northland Regional Council taking any action.

“Our marae has been there for 150 years. The cowshit hasn’t. It’s become intolerable, the smell. Everyone who comes there, particularly when we hve hui, that’s when it’s at its worst. Everyone comments on it. Ko takuhia i runga tatou mana,” Mr Patuawa says.

The Northland regional council's environmental monitoring officer, Dennis Wright, says the farmer is building a $160,000 underpass north of the existing crossing.


The Greens maori spokesperson is warning the Maori Party to tread carefully as it heads towards an agreement with National.

After more than an hour of talks with National leader John Key this afternoon, Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia confirmed they are proceeding with a deal ... although they won't reveal the details.

Metiria Turei says National will benefit from such an agreement by claiming to lead a balanced government.

She says the Maori Party needs to ask what may happen to Maori under a National/ Act government.

“In the end it’s going to be whether people have secure employment and secure housing that counts the most for Maori because those are the areas that we are more vulnerable than any other community. If those policies aren’t mediated or softened or made better by the Maori Party’s presence, then I think there is an issue about whether they are going to be supporting a policy that is going to cause Maori communities significant amounts of damage,” Ms Turei says.

The Maori Party its holding consulation hui on the issue with party members starting in Otahuhu tonight.


Te Whanau o Waipareira has reported an improved result as its major restructuring reaches its final stages.

The West Auckland urban Maori authority has an operating surplus of $780,000 on revenue of $10.2 million, up from $550,000 last year.

The income came from service delivery contracts with agencies like the ministries of health and Social Development and the Accident Compensation Corporation.

Chief executive John Tamihere says the result marks a turnaround from the trust's previous management.

“Three years ago we had cheques bouncing all over west Auckland. Three years ago we had just on $5.5 million of debt we didn’t know what to do with. We had mal-performance in some of our contract areas and they were all under threat. The restructure had to be quite aggressive. Major jobs were lost. Major cost centres were closed down. We’ve recalibrated the organization, put good quality systems in place staffed now with better people, and we’re in now our major growth surge,” Mr Tamihere says.

Next year Waipareira expects to boost income by 20 percent and increase its margins by a greater percent.


The Children's Commissioner wants to tackle schoolyard bullying.

The School Safety Investigation will review four cases of school violence, including one at Hutt Valley High School which is being investigated by the Human Rights Commission.

Dr Cindy Kiro says a large number of the 900 calls her office gets each year on its public inquiry line are about bullying, and it emerged as a top three concern in her talks with groups of children.

She says cultural factors will be taken into account.

“We don't know quite simply for example whether schools that have high numbers of Maori children have higher rates of bullying or violence, but to the extent that Maori children are victims or perpetrators of acts of violence or bullying in schools, we will certainly identify what works with them,” Dr Kiro says

Results could be available early in the new school year.

Maori Party ponders National role

The Maori Party is seriously considering having a role within the National Government ... with the idea of ministerial posts outside of Cabinet discussed yesterday.

National already has the numbers to govern with ACT and United Future promising support on confidence and supply, but John Key wants to also involve the Maori Party.

Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples ... the co-leaders of the Maori Party... described their talks with the Prime Minister Elect as very cordia" and extremely constructive.

The Maori Party is set to have a round of hui with party members, but the co-leaders predicted this could be done quickly, now that they no longer have to toss up between supporting Labour or National.

Dr Sharples says the choice is now between being in Opposition, or having a degree of influence on Government policy.

Throughout the election the Maori Party has indicated that health, education and employment are their chief concerns and how improvements for Maori can be achieved in these areas will be central to discussions at hui.


A Maori historian says although the Pioneer Battalion were overshadowed by Maori efforts during World War Two they are not forgotten.

Dr Monty Soutar says the contribution of the two and a half thousand-strong Maori contingent, which became the Pioneer Battalion in 1914 was huge.

“Had there not been a Maori Battalion in World War II, we would look back to those of our tipuna who fought in World War I as the heroes that we pay tribute to the Maori Battalion in the same way. They’ve been overshadowed by our uncles and fathers of Worlds War II but they were toa certainly and they had that reputation in World War I,” he says.

Dr Soutar is making a presentation on the Pioneer Battalion at midday in the National Library as part of the Armistice Talks series celebrating 75 years since the end of the war.


The pilot project putting police in schools is having great success in breaking down gang influence among young Maori and Pacific Islanders according to police working in South Auckland colleges.

Tai Benedito who is based at Mangere College says Cops in Schools works closely with school counselors giving students direction of how to lead their lives both inside and outside school.

He says the both staff and the kids have given the police a very good receptions at the schools.

“What we have seen so far is the gang colours used to be quite high in the schools. That’s really died off. The resources that used to be put out for front line policing used to be quite horrendous. You used to have frontline guys going to all the fights and disorderlies, whereas as cops in schools we pretty much see when the fight is about to happen so we come in before it even erupts,” Mr Benedito says.

The pilot project has been going six months with officers spending 15 hours a week dedicated time at each school in the project.


Former Alliance president Matt McCarten believes National has done more to understand Maori issues than the new leaders of the Labour Party.

He says neither Phil Goff nor deputy Annette King have a history of coming to grips with Maori issues.

“The whole Maori allegiance to Labour is now in a state of play, particularly in the last few days. That’s up for grabs and the National Party know it and they’ll be going out of their way, and to some extent it is that Bill English in particular has gone out of his way to cultivate and build relationships with Maori all over New Zealand whereas Goff doesn’t have that reputation. He’s a bit of taking it for granted and he’s got some catch up work to do,” Mr McCarten says


Historian Monty Soutar says Maori experiences of World War I and after are far different to their Pakeha comrades.

Dr Soutar says the large numbers from Te Arawa, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou who became the 2000-strong Pioneer Battalion were keen to prove their warrior stock, but they were often given menial tasks.

Even on their homecoming the Pioneer Battalion veterans weren't treated equally to Pakeha survivors.

“Historians of late claim that New Zealand came of age because of participation in World War I, broke away from the mother country England. I would argue that for Maori that wasn’t the case. They came home to resume their position as second class citizens in this country and it was many decades later the we as Maori were able to claim that we had come of age,” he says.

Dr Soutar is making a presentation at the National Library in Wellington at noon to mark 90 years since Armistice day.


A three day summit conference to set a future direction for Maori over the next decade started in Manukau City yesterday.

One of the organisers, Wiremu Docherty, says Maori development over the last 20 to 30 years has been about language revitalisation, knowledge, culture and how that can be embedded in the education system.

“And the question is or the next 20-30 years, what is it that Maori collectively want to push and fight for.

“If it’s going to be education again, all well and good. But this is about holding a discussion to ponder some thoughts as to what could be some trends for the next 20 years.

“Iwi are going through a process of iwi settlements so there is going to be notions around financial management, business management. Some of the education stuff hasn’t quite been bedded in. And it’s just around getting some key people along to have some discussions about those aspects,” Mr Docherty says.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life expectancy stats need supporting

Maori health is improving... but could do better.

That's the view of Tony Blakely, the director of the Health Inequalities Research Programme at Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine.

He says the latest research from Statistics New Zealand based on deaths between 2005 and 2007 show life expectancy of Maori is improving.
However Maori still die eight years earlier than non-Maori so there's more work to be done.

“I think improving access to treatments for cardiovascular disease and cancer are critical to seeing that gap close further, improved efforts to reduce smoking for all but particularly for Maori are critical in seeing that gap close. Increased effort in reducing fat in diets for all but particularly for Maori are critical to closing that gap, so yes it can keep coming down but it needs concerted social and public health action,” Dr Blakely says.

It is possible, with such concerted effort, to bring the gap down to 2-3 years within twenty to thirty years.


A trade union organiser and political commentator says the expected new Labour leader Phil Goff and deputy Annette King are both good scrappers who will put the incoming National government under alot of pressure.

But Matt McCarten says they will have a lot catch up work to do getting to grips with Maori issues.

“And I am not sure he actually has an inclination to dio it. He’s going to have to, but neither him nor the new deputy have a track record in it so National is obviously gong to make the run on it. It will make the relationship between Maori ad National, Maori and Labour quite an interesting issue. Goff has never held any portfolios that have impacted particularly ion Maori except for locking them up,” Mr McCarten says

He says Mr Goff and Ms King will attempt to move the Labour Party to the right which is not necessarily good for Maori.


A Maori women’s church group in South Auckland is holding a convention for women on Friday night to help uplift community spirit in the troubled suburb of Clendon.

Mania Clarke from the Clendon Baptist church says pressures in the area have been highlighted recently with a number of murders, beatings and terrible crimes.

She says the Wahine Atua convention is a way of women showing that not everything in the area is negative.

The convention is for women of all faiths and ethnicity.
Returned Services Association says members and whanau of the 28th Maori Battalion strongly acknowledge their World War One predecessors.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the armistice signed between Britain and Germany in Compiegne, France - ending World War One.

RSA chief executive Dr Stephen Clarke says many Maori communities were impacted from the return of soldiers of the Pioneer Battalion and also those killed in battle and left in Europe.

Dr Clarke says although they are not always remembered strongly, the links remain for Maori.

“The 28th Maori Battalion and whanau have a sense of this whakapapa that goes back to the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War. Certainly that sense is there that those traditions were passed on,” Dr Clarke says.

The says it was fitting that outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark laid the wreath at the national service in Wellington, as the Labour government has been committed to remembrance projects.


The improvements in Maori health and increased life expectancy need to be protected by the incoming government, according to a leading health researcher.

Tony Blakely, the director of the Health Inequalities Research Programme at Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine, says health policy has a huge and lasting impact on Maori life expectancy.

He says the incoming government will need to be aware of that as they deal with the international financial crisis.

The gap between Maori and non-Maori life expectancy grew during the eighties and nineties largely as a result of the Maori redundancies under Rogernomics.

So how will Maori life expectancy fare under the new National-led government?

“This is the $64 million question and it’s being asked at just the right time.

“We have an international financial cloud coming our way. We’ve got our learnings from the last 20 years of what can happen with ethnic life expectancy trends. They do change over time. We have to ask ourselves what we’re doing as a society to manage the likely increase in unemployment so will non-Maori and will non-Maori life expectancy improve?

"Well it all depends. As long as we look after our social determinants, we should still see ongoing improvements,” Dr Blakely says.

Hooten talks up Maori chances

Political commentator Matthew Hooton says overtures by the new National government to the Maori party to come inside the tent present a huge opportunity for Maori.

Matthew Hooton, a former National party strategist says the Maori party made much of the fact that it wanted to be a treaty partner in Parliament.

“I think the Maori Party has an incredible opportunity. I think it’s got an opportunity to take control of a very large portfolio if it wants it. I’m not talking about minister of Maori affairs, which is an unimportant portfolio in the scheme of things. It doesn’t have much power. I’m talking about someone like Pita Sharples perhaps almost calling John Key’s bluff and saying ‘right pal, you want to work with us, we want the social welfare portfolio.’ And if John Key then says no, well the Maori Party can say he was never sincere. But if the Maori Party doesn’t want to play ball, then the same charge can be put to them,” Mr Hooton says.

He says controlling the $10 billion social welfare budget would give the Maori party a real opportunity to prove its ability.

Maori party leaders are meeting with Prime Minister elect John Key and his advisors today to discuss possible arrangements with the government.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she's disappointed at the way Maori have voted.

The Maori Party won five of the seven Maori seats but failed to capture Ikaroa Rawhiti from Parekura Horomia and Hauraki Waikato from Nanaia Mahuta.

“We were very disappointed to think that in Ikaroa Rawhiti and in Hauraki Waikato, the people there couldn’t see beyond the immediate. They could have voted the other way and they would have had four members in. They chose to keep all their eggs in that basket, and we know now they are in Opposition,” Mrs Turia says.

She says the Maori Party is planning now to capture those seats in the 2011 election.


For descendants of the Takitimu waka, all roads head to the Hawkes Bay this week as they join thousands of others united by the ancestral canoe of the Ngati Kahungunu people.

Iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana says up to 30,000 people are expected at the inaugural three-day festival which starts on Thursday at the Hawkes Bay Showgrounds.

He says the festival fulfils a dream by elders 20 years ago, to celebrate the history the Takitimu waka, not just in Aotearoa, but right throughout the Pacific.

“We discovered that the Takitimu was made in Samoa and journeyed to Fiji and then Tonga, the Cooks and Rangiatea before it arrived here, so we have been looking back at our history but we never looked at our pre-history. So it’s pulling together all the far flung societies of Takitimu for the first time since Takitimu left Samoa around 800 AD,” Mr Tomoana says.


More than 250 Maori business leaders meeting over the weekend had a positive view on the change of government according to a leading business authority.

Emeritus Professor of business at Massey University and former chief executive of the Ministry for Maori Affairs Dr Ngatata Love says those attending the Federation of Maori Authorities annual conference in Rotorua over the weekend saw little to worry about as the election night results came through on Saturday night.

“I would think they were more worried about how Scotland was going to do against the All Blacks at that stage. I think the mood was look government’s come and go. This is a government of business coming in, so there was a positive view quite frankly,” Dr Love says.

He says the new business-friendly government is about employment and raising productivity to better the failing economy.

He says one strong message from National is its willingness to work with Maori.


National’s co-spokesperson on Maori affairs is predicting a bright future for the new MP for Tauranga.

Simon Bridges, a lawyer with whakapapa into Ngati Maniapoto, convincingly defeated Winston Peters to secure the Bay of Plenty electorate for National in Saturday’s election.

Tau Henare says the Tauranga MP is an emerging political talent, and bolsters the number of Maori in the National Party ranks.

“I think he's going to be round for a while and I think he’s got the sort of nous to carry him through to some high positions. National now has more Maori MPs in the party than the Maori Party and also than the Labour Party,” Mr Henare says.


Taranaki based Paraninihi ki Waitiotara Incorporation is optimistic about the future despite a multi million dollar loss on an overseas investment.

The organisation that manages vast tracts of Maori land held its annual meeting in New Plymouth over the weekend.

General manager, Dion Tuuta says shareholders were told of a $31 million loss this year, due to a failed investment in a Brisbane apartment and retail project that was placed into receivership midway through the year.

He says the Maori incorporation intends refocusing on its core strengths.

“Dairy farming is our core asset base, is our core business and our core focus, and the incorporation is consolidating all its activities back to Taranaki and concentrating on what we do well, which is dairy farming,” Mr Tuuta says.

It was the incorporation's first foray into offshore investment, and despite the loss the balance sheet is still strong with assets of $255 million.

Monday, November 10, 2008

End of Peters' show in house

A note of commiseration to Winston Peters and New Zealand First from a former collegue and adversary.

It comes from Tau Henare who worked alongside the maverick MP in the late 1990's when New Zealand First went into a coalition arrangement with National.

Mr Henare who is now in his second term as a list MP for National says it will be strange to be in the debating chamber without Winston Peters.

"There's a tinge of sadness in my heart about not seeing the master at work in the House and I would have liked to continue on watching him because he’s such a good show. The chamber is going to be strange without Winston and I suppose my condolences to Winston and the other key members of New Zealand First,” Mr Henare says.

New Zealand First were cast into the political wilderness on Saturday night, failing by half a percentage point to reach the 5 percent threshold needed for representation under MMP.


Former Labour MP and political commentator John Tamihere says whoever takes over the leadership of the Labour party from Helen Clark will be taking up a poisoned chalice.

And he is advising Maori MP Shane Jones to avoid having leadership ambitions too early although former MP Dover Samuels is calling for him to run for the leadership.

“The first 18 months to three years in Opposition is fraught with problems so why would Shane be stupid enough to step up to the mark to want to be a successor to a whole range of policies which he has no fingerprints on. Remember, he’s only been there three years. What Uncle Dover’s got to do is go into retirement gracefully and settle down,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says Shane Jones could be a future leader but before he is ready to lead he needs to build more extensive relationships throughout the Labour Party.


A snub at the haka by England in their match against the Kiwis in Newcastle may have worked, but not for long.

That's the view of former Kiwi, Tawera Nikau, who led the haka when the Maori team played at the Rugby League world cup in Britain 8 years ago.

He says England’s decision to turn their backs on the pre match haka on Saturday night, seemed to play on the minds of some of the Kiwi players who were slow to get into the game, and by halftime found themselves down 24-8.

“First time I’d seen that. Very disrespectful what happened to the Kiwis and most teams have that respect for it and obviously the English thought they’d do something different and it worked in their favour the first 30, 40 minutes because the Kiwis seems a little flat but the second half the boys came back,” Nikau says.

The Kiwis won the game 36-24 and will meet England again this weekend to secure a place in the final.


National's new Waitakere MP Paula Bennett of Tainui and Ngati Maniapoto says Maori need to do better and she will be pushing within the new government to see that opportunities are provided for them to do so.

The MP who won the electorate from Labour says the issues of Waitakere Maori stem from childhood and education is a major issue.

“When it comes to health and education and welfare issues, then Maori in Waitakere, by crikey we can do better and quite frankly our kids deserve better so we can actually look at truancy is a big issue out here. If they ain’t at school, they ain't learning,” Ms Bennett says.

She's looking forward to working with Tamaki Makaurau MP Pita Sharples and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira in resolving Maori issues in the Waitakere area.


However new Te Tai Tonga Maori Party MP Rahui Katene says she isn't prepared to guess what the issues are in her electorate.

Rahui Katene, who won over Labour MP Mahara Okeroa by a margin of 684 says she's excited and committed to represent her new electorate but she is not prejudging the issues.

“I know what some of the issues are but I want to go in and find out what is troubling the people. I don’t want to be a person that just sits in Wellington and guesses what is going on or thinks that because it’s an issue in Auckland, it’s the same issue is happening in Invercargill, so I need to be there in the electorate,” Ms Katene says.

She's hoping to work with Green Party candidate Dora Langsbury on up and coming projects concerning Te Tai Tonga.


Labour's latest Maori MP Kelvin Davis says he will also be on a steep learning curve in the coming months.

Although he unsuccesfully stood for the Tai Tokerau seat, won by the Maori party's Hone Harawira, Kelvin Davis has become an MP through his 29th placing on the Labour party list.

The former school principal describes the experience much the same as being a third former in high school saying he has had some good advice from one of the prefects, former MP Dover Samuels.

“I'm just the new boy and no doubt over the next two or three weeks more things will become clear but at the moment my job is just to come down here and as Dover said to me on Saturday night, ‘keep your eyes open, your ears open, your mouth shut and learn as much as you can,’” Mr Davis says.

He'll be getting around to various hapu and marae in the Northland area to gauge what the main issues are.

Maori influence to continue

Maori are expected to exert high continuing influence in parliament.

While the Maori party does not hold the balance of power as many predicted, its influence in the next Parliament will be considerable.

One of the first calls made by National Party leader John Key was to Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, and meeting Maori Party leaders today will be a top priority for the new Prime Minister and his advisors.

This is a clear indication of National’s intention to be inclusive and build middle ground political support in the MMP environment. It can also be seen as a sign that Mr Key does not want to be in a position where coalition partner ACT can hold it captive to retain power.

While the Maori Party may not be as strongly positioned as if it was holding the balance of power, National’s overture could see it being offered a meaningful role in the next government, possibly including ministerial roles either inside or outside cabinet.

This will mean the Maori Party and its followers who it will be consulting needing to decide how closely they hitch their wagon to National with issues such as welfare reform and breaking down welfare dependency lightly to be key considerations.

The Maori Party concerns during the campaign on both these issues provide an opportunity for finding common ground while their leaders will be aware that despite their efforts to capture the party vote, Maori remain essentially left leaning.

Another area Maori will be watching closely is a potential big by list MP Shane Jones for leadership in Labour following Helen Clark’s retirement.

While Mr Jones is predictably playing his cards close to his chest, he has a distinguished career managing Maori assets and since his entry into politics has been seen in many quarters as a potential leader.

Mr Jones can be seen as middle ground if likely contenders Phil Goff from the right of the party or Maryan Street or Ruth Dyson from left find themselves battling it out.

It would also give Labour the appearance of broad spectrum appeal, much as black President-elect Barack Obama was able to claim for the Democrats in the US.

Both Tau Henare and Georgine te Heuheu can expect to be prominent in National’s cabinet, and Hekia Parata’s performance in Mana shows that while she may not be immediately be rushed into Cabinet, she may be a force in the future.

Samoan Sam Lotu-Liiga’s surprise success in Maungakiekie provides the opportunity for National to embrace a broad spectrum in the Polynesian success.

It is significant that he was able to trounce a trade union-backed Labour candidate, while National Maori woman Paula Bennett was able to pull off a similar upset in the west Auckland seat of Waitakere.


Federation of Maori Authorities members have been called on Maori businesses to seat more women around their board tables.

Women's Affairs Ministry Kaihautu Sonya Rimene told FOMA's annual general meeting at the weekend that Maori women have a huge skill base to contribute to senior management and governance of business.

“We haven't dug around a bit to see who is actually sitting around the table and I think that’s something for FOMA to consider at their board table abnd at their senior management tables, to capitalise on the potential skill and talents of our wahine Maori,” Ms Rimene says.

She presented international evidence on the value of diversified governance representation to the FOMA conference in her korero.


Long serving National MP Georgina Te Huehue says Maori have nothing to fear from the election of a National government.

And she says the Maori party which is meeting with Prime Minister John Key and his advisors today should realise that its values align more closely with National's than Labour's.

“If you look closely at their kaupapa and you look at the principles of the National Party, there is a better alignment in my view than if you lined up with the principles of the Labour Party and the kaupapa of the Maori Party. In terms of establishing a long term relationship with the Maori Party, I am very optimistic about that,” Mrs Te Heuheu says.

She says National recognises that a momentum has been established in things like treaty settlements and has been clear during campaigning that this momentum will be continued by the new government.


However former Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia says while it is over to the Maori party to decide where it goes it should be careful about getting too close to a National government.

Parekura Horomia says clearly the Maori party has been talking to National for some time but they need to be particularly aware of what they are potentially getting into at today's meeting with new Prime Minister John Key and his advisors.

“I think it’s pretty important when you look at that front bench and the return of Roger Douglas and the feel of some of the team managing the National Party, I think they should pick their choices and journey carefully, but certainly as a party it’s their choice,” Mr Horomia says.

While he is delighted to have won his electorate of Ikaroa Rawhiti he is very saddened that the people have chosen a change of government and he is particularly saddened that Helen Clark has chosen to stand down.


Former long time Labour MP Dover Samuels says its time for a change right across the Labour party and he's calling for a new broom for leader in fellow Northland Maori MP Shane Jones.

Dover Samuels says the old brigade on the front bench have had their day and they should step aside and hand over the reins to MPs such as Shane Jones who came into parliament in the last intake.

“He is a graduate of Harvard. He is very proficient and capable in terms of leadership. He has shown in his track record on the Maori fisheries commission that he can transcend and he can build bridges right across the diversity of the New Zealand electorate and I think it’s people like him that can can advance the advance the cause and vision of people who support the labour movement and the Labour philosophy,” Mr Samuels says.

He says Shane Jones could become New Zealand's Barack Obama uniting people in a movement for change.