Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, May 29, 2009

Green concession spun as boost for Maori

The Prime Minister says the budget announcement that $323 million will be allocated to insulate houses will be of great benefit to Maori families.

John Key says badly insulated and poorly heated homes are forcing old people to go to bed in the afternoon wrapped in blankets, youngsters are getting sick unnecessarily and others are missing work.

“There will be a lot of Maori New Zealanders whose homes will be heated on the back of this plan and I think that’s a really good thing. It will deliver much better health and social outcomes and over time will make a significant difference,” Mr Key says.

The poor insulation of homes was one of the issues raised by his department when he came into office and he sees improving the heating of homes as a personal priority.

He says a grant up to $1800 for homeowners, which is not subject to income testing will help Maori and non-Maori families alike.

Measures in the budget particularly targeted at Maori amount to $120 million over the next four years specifically for Maori specific programmes, particularly in the areas of housing, education, social development and Treaty negotiations.


One of the aims at next months National Maori Men's Health conference will be to form a men's coalition, similar to the Maori Women's Welfare League.

Joe Puketapu, Chair of the conference, says one of the keynote speakers is former president of the Maori Women's Welfare League, Aroha Reriti-Crofts.

Mr Puketapu says the league does a great job advocating the interests of wahine Maori, something he would like to replicate for tane.

“I think we've got a lot we can learn from the Maori Women’s Welfare League model. I think they’ve done some exceptional things in their time and continue to do some exceptional things for our people,” Mr Puketapu says.

Next month’s conference will also include international speakers Dr Kekuni Blaisdell from Hawaii and Dr Mark Wenitong from Australia.


The Minister of Corrections Judith Collins says New Zealand's Maori focus units have supporters across the ditch.

Ms Collins visited four prisons in Australia last week examining that countrys prison management tendering system.

She says prison managers there were impressed with this country's Maori Focus Units and the lower recividism rates for inmates when they came out of jail.

“Our numbers on recidivism and the success we can have with some prisoners was greeted with quite a lot of interest generally so there are opportunities there cross border, and I think in New Zealand we tend to thin we have to get ideas from overseas but we have some really great ideas and great people working here.
Ms Collins says.

A rising Maori population in Australia jails also led to discussions on opportunities for Maori businesses.


Whanganui iwi are closer to having a larger role in the management of their national park.

The Whanganui National Park management plan has been under review for the last 20 years, during which time iwi have consistently sought greater recognition, and more involvement in the parks management.

Wanganui conservator Damian Coutts says steps are being made to achieve this collaborative approach to run the 74,000 hectare park.

“The proposal is not so much a formal change. The idea is the area will still be managed as a national park under the National Parks Act but would be managed in a way top recognize this desire for a greater Maori flavour to it, greater protection of sites of significance to Maori and better information to visitors about the sensitivity of sites,” Mr Coutts says.


The Child Action Poverty Group says the budget has done little to ease the financial burden for whanau.

Spokesperson, Donna Wynd, says she is disappointed it failed to take the needs of whanau and tamariki into consideration.

Ms Wynd says many whanau are already struggling to make ends meet and the government does not appear to be addressing the issue.

“A lot of Maori children were in dire need before the recession set in and I don’t expect that’s improved and with an unemployment rate of 12 percent it’s probably got much worse. We know in places like Whangarei and Eastern Bay of Plenty and Rotorua it’s just appalling so we really need to start addressing the needs of those children now,” Ms Wynd says.


The Prime Minister says he would have gone to this week's Auckland hikoi if he had been able to.

However John Key says he had other priorities.

“I would have gone but it was Cabinet day and you can’t really leave the Cabinet, especially the one right before the Budget, so I couldn’t go, but I heard it was good natured,” Mr Key says.

He says discussions are currently taking place with iwi as to the best form of Maori representation in Auckland and the hikoi was arguably a little ahead of itself coming before the select committee hearings.


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