Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Harakeke centre to attract tourists

A central North Island incorporation is bucking the recession by opening a new tourism centre.

Maraeroa C's Pa Harakeke Eco Cultural Centre at Pureora will celebrate the ecological and cultural benefits of flax.

It includes a processing plant, a showroom selling flax products, a nursery and a plantation with 2,000 varieties of harakeke.

Chief executive Glen Katu says elders from Rereahu and Maniapoto are contributing their stories on local events and history to the centre.

He says it has unique features which should allow it to weather hard times.

“Whilst the major centres in tourism might have a drop off in their activities, we’re a new and unique product that’s not out there at the moment and something that we can grow into over the next few months when the uplift in tourism number to New Zealand happens. It will happen, because things go in cycles,” Mr Katu says.

The operating costs of Pa Harakeke Eco Cultural Centre have been kept deliberately low for the start up phase.


Health professionals are today looking at how Maori children can get better treatment for asthma at primary care level.

Researcher Matire Harwood, the clinical director at Tamaki Healthcare, says the hui at Oarakei Marae in Auckland called by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation will highlight the best in research and community based solutions for the problem.

She says while the incidence of asthma is the same as non-Maori, tamariki Maori are harder hit by respiratory conditions.

“Maori and Pacific kids are more likely to have to see their doctor more often to have their asthma treated, they’re more likely to be admitted to hospital with it and more likely to have time off school. The issue is what is happening in primary care to manage this illness for these kids so they’ve got a good quality of life,” Dr Harwood says.

Addressing the problem will require changes in the way general practitioners respond to Maori patients.


A group trying to revive an ancient Maori ball game is trying to make it attractive to both wahine and tane.

Coach Harko Brown says networks are springing up around the country to play Ki o rahi, which uses a circular field.

He says players are keen to set the right kaupapa, with women players getting the same opportunities as men.

Harko Brown says players are working towards the world's first ki-o-rahi international between New Zealand and France in Paris next year.


The negotiator for Rotorua's Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao iwi says the Maori Party is playing local politics with its settlement.

Willie te Aho, who chairs the Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust, says associate treaty negotiations minister Pita Sharples has asked fellow Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell to mediate between groups with a stake in the Whakarewara thermal valley lands.

He says that's inappropriate, because Mr Flavell has already used his position to advocate on behalf of the Ngati wahiao faction opposing the terms of the current bill.

Mr Te Aho says if mediation was needed, Dr Sharples should do it himself or use his associate minister.

“The minister of Maori Affairs could have used someone like Georgine te Heuheu to be involved in this kaupapa. She’s well regarded, background in Waitangi Tribunal issues and we would have supported that but he didn’t. He went back to his Maori Party,” Mr Te Aho says.

There are mechanisms in the bill to sort out the appropriate shares in the land after the Whakarewarewa valley and Roto a Tamaheke are returned to the collective of iwi.


A west Auckland Maori public health organisation is trying to address the number of Maori men in the city dying before they make 60.

Lance Norman, the business manager for Waiora, says the PHO's Maori health plan was put to the community yesterday at a men's health hui at Hoani Waititi marae.

Its research shows that Maori men in the city are most likely to die between the ages of 45 and 55.

Mr Norman says few of the men access primary health services.

“They're quite staunch about going to the doctor. They’re too invincible so they don’t really care for that medicine. It’s also quite cost prohibitive. They’re not on high incomes so health and things like that are not important for them, paying for food etc is probably the most important thing they bring home the bread for,” Mr Norman says.

He says solutions raised at yesterday's hui include increasing the Maori health workforce, so tane Maori feel more comfortable about going for check-ups, and the encouragement of whanau champions who will encourage the rest of their family to eat well and stay healthy.


A show at Lower Hutt's New Dowse museum is looking at the way contemporary Maori artists are using plastics and other synthetics to interpret customary forms.

Curator Rueben Friend says he wants to open a dialogue about cultural authenticity.

He says artists like Rangi Kipa, Inez Crawford, Hemi MacGregor, Robert Jahnke and Wayne Youle are part of a tradition of innovation with their plastic tiki, kowhaiwhai lightboxes, tukutuku puzzle cubes and resin jewelry.

“This is the world we are living in. These are the materials and technologies that are of now. If we look through our history, Maori have always been really quick to attain new materials and use those and become experts in using those materials so we can look at stone chisels and the invention of the greenstone tuki and later on steel chisels,” Mr Friend says.

Plastic Maori runs at the New Dowse in Lower Hutt until August.


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