Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, March 23, 2009

Key seeking independent voices

The Prime Minister says a new taskforce on the Maori economy should generate fresh ideas.

The seven-member panel reporting to Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has caused disquiet among some Maori who see it undermining the Ministry of Maori Development, Te Puni Kokiri.

But John Key says independent task forces are a deliberate government strategy to draw on expertise outside the bureaucracy.

“Ultimately whether it's in areas like reform of the Resource Management Act or the health sector, we’ve chosen to go out there and say ‘give us your assessment of what’s going on.’ It’s obviously a pretty independent, for obvious reasons, point of view, and I think that helps in the decision making,” Mr Key says.


The director of the Christchurch Health and Development study says there is no evidence that Maori for Maori programmes are the solution to problems with Maori youth.

Professor David Fergusson presented current findings from the 30-year study to last week's behaviour summit in Wellington.

He says parenting programmes like Early Start and Incredible years are as effective for Maori and non Maori, so developing specialist Maori programmes is a poor use of resources.

“My belief is if the mainstream can develop proper programmes they should serve the needs of everybody and that Maori providers would become therefore part of a general service, not a separate service,” Professor Fergusson says.

He fears resources which should go into proven parenting programmes may instead be diverted into fads like boot camps, which aren't based on sound evaluation of evidence.


But the coordinator of a Maori parenting programme says many whanau want a culturally safe option.

Huhana Wilson Roland works with Parent Inc's Manaaki Whanau progamme, which uses entertainers like Pio Terei to get good parenting messages out to whanau.

“I know that a lot of Maori people don’t like stuff from mainstream given to them. And a lot of programmes are from overseas, when we have some amazing stuff in New Zealand that can help our Maori families,” Ms Wilson Roland says.


The matua takawaenga for primary teachers' union NZEI says a new Maori curriculum will encourage teachers in mainstream schools to boost their reo skills.

Laures Park says the framework launched in Rotoiti last week raises the status of Maori in schools.

She says there are a lot of useful resources in the document.

“This set of guidelines starts from level one and moving up rapidly so you don’t necessarily have to be a fluent speaker of te reo Maori. You can take it half a step in front of the children really,” Ms Park says.


A Ngai Tahu shareholder says instability in the South Island tribe will continue until it reforms its voting system.

Richard Parata, who maintains a web site on the tribe's activities, says kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon has beaten off his critics, and the tribe needs to move on.

Mr Solomon fronted up to a hui at Rehua Marae in Christchurch on Friday to counter charges of secrecy and mismanagement which have circulating in the media since the start of the year.

Mr Parata says the tribe's complicated voting system, which allows people to vote at multiple marae for electoral panels which appoint representatives to Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, has allowed a small group to stir up mischief.

“There should be one person, one direct vote, at one marae and I expressed this at the afternoon. If you have difficulties wondering which marae you should vote on, just consider which marae you are going to be buried. That’s probably where the answer is,” Mr Parata says.


A proposed law allowing parents to again smack their children has alarmed a Maori anti-violence campaigner.

Hone Kaa, the chair of Te Kahui Mana Ririki Trust, says the private member's bill from ACT MP John Boscawen threatens to undermine existing gains.

He says maltreatment of children is a long standing problem for Maori communities, but the education work being done by groups like Te Kahui Mana Ririki is having an effect, with many marae positive about becoming papa ki kore or smack free.

“This is from parents who themselves, in many instances, regret the actions they took. They know what they did was wrong because they now see that one of the results of what they did was that other people felt it was their right to smack their kids and go even further,” Dr Kaa says.

He says it's irresponsible for people in power to put out the message that violence against children is acceptable.


This week's seventh international potato conference in Christchurch has given a Maori potato expert a chance to talk about tuakana strains.

Nick Roskruge from Massey University met the Peruvian delegation over the weekend to finalise plans for his trip to South America for this year's harvest season.

He says the Peruvians take seriously their role preserving the birthplace of the humble tuber.

“It's about aligning ourselves to the bigger picture, where there are similar varieties they grow to ours and they’re looking at the language connection with the names and looking to find that common ground which in some ways is a form of rangatiratanga because it gives those cultures over there some confidence they’re not the only people that live on these crops,” Mr Roskruge says.

As the chair of Maori organic growers collective Tahuri Whenua, he says Maori growers can learn a lot from the Peruvians.


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