Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Colonisation still harming tamariki health

A multi-country study has confirmed colonisation continues to have a negative effect on the health of indigenous children.

Co-author Sue Crengle from Auckland University's department of population health says the study looked at the health of indigenous children in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada.

In all four countries, indigenous children experienced higher rates of infant mortality, sudden infant death syndrome, child injury, accidental death and suicide.

There was also more ear infection, respiratory illness, dental problems, and exposure to environmental contaminants including tobacco.

Dr Crengle says there is no medical reason such genetically diverse populations would have such common problems, but there is a common thread.

“Regardless of where we live, indigenous children face many challenges. The commonality all our children have is they live in colonized countries and that colonisation is the major determinant of the health status of our children,” Dr Crengle says.

She presented her report at the 12th World Congress on Public Health in Istanbul, Turkey last week.


A Far North iwi is enjoying a better relationship with the Department of Conservation as a result of its treaty claim.

Te Rarawa hopes to finalise a Whenua Ngahere agreement with the department by the end of the year, giving it a formal say in the management of about 30,000 hectares of forest.

Chairperson Haami Piripi says the increased contact is already bringing benefits, as Te Rarawa works out how its kaitiaki role can work alongside DoC's statutory responsibilities.

“Most of our resources are cultural resources – the knowledge of various hapu and whanau about different aspects of the ngahere and the moana, of the waahi tapu and the previous occupation history of these areas, and the department is making sure we’re included in the design of all their policy and planning processes,” Mr Piripi says.

A third of the Te Rarawa rohe is Conservation Land, so a good relationship with DoC is vital for the long term success of a settlement.


A Tuwharetoa researcher is heading for Adelaide to rekindle a relationship that started in the 19th century.

Eleazar Manutai Bramley is digitising the South Australian Museum's collection of paintings and drawings by artist George French Angas, who visited Taupo in 1844 to record Maori and their way of life.

She feels a spiritual connection to the work through her awareness ANgas relied on the hospitality of the great chief for his work.

Eleazar Manutai Bramley says once the collection is digitised, it may become accessable by descendants of the tupuna who Angas painted.


A former Maori Women's Welfare league president has quit her advisory role to the Families Commission in protest at the appointment of former Work and Income head Christine Rankin as a commissioner.

Druis Barrett says she is giving up her spot on the commission's whanau reference group because she can't see any point working with someone who has damned Maori Whanau time and again in the past.

In an email informing the commission of her decision, Mrs Barrett said Ms Rankin is racist towards Maori and is unlikely to change.

Before the controversial appointment, Mrs Barrett had been considering resigning for positive reasons, including what she saw as a good Maori strategy and the appointment of Kim Workman from Ngati Kuhungunu as a commissioner.


Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the Maori Centre for Research Excellence, has launched a publication highlighting the work of Maori scientists.

Joint director Michael Walker says the papers in Te Ara Putaiao show how far Maori have come in developing capability at the top level.

It includes contributions from Shane Wright, whose work on understanding evolution in warmer climates was published by the US National Academy of Sciences, Elizabeth McKinley, who is studying how Maori learn maths and science, and enviromental researcher James Ataria.

Professor Walker says Dr Ataria's work on Napier's Ahuriri estuary was an example of how Maori ways of doing things can improve the research process.

Dr Ataria won the support not only of Maori but of local authorities and the school system, getting them to buy into a plan to improve water quality and therefore the quality and availability of kaimoana in the Ahuriri Estuary.

Professor Michael Walker says Maori are now represented across the range of sciences, from astrophysics to zoology.


A conference in Christchurch this week is looking at the ways Maori are using geographic information systems to improve tribal operations.

David O'Connell, the general manager of tribal interest for Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu, says the iwi is using GIS to map its cultural heritage, to record artefacts and waahi tapu, and to manage its customary and commercial fisheries.

He says new technologies can capture valuable information which in the past would only be transmitted orally.

David O'Connell says Maori shouldn't be fear computerising their matauranga could lead to the information getting into the wrong hands, because proper security can be built into systems.


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