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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

National Library offers assurances over taonga

The National Library is promising taonga kept in collections will not be harmed, despite concerns over the handling of the Alexander Turnbull Library's priceless collection during a refurbishment.

Earlier this week it was reported that ethno-musicologist Mervyn McLean was no longer bequeathing copies of his 1200 Maori waiata to the Turnbull because of uncertainty around the collection’s safety during a move out of the building for up to two years.

Penny Carnaby, the National Librarian, says any collections that require shifting during the replacement of the Library's aging functions will be packed and handled with care under the supervision of expert curators and conservators.

“We have some of the most expert conservators in New Zealand with international reputations. We’ve also engaged people from outside New Zealand to give us a second opinion. So the safety of the collections, how they’re wrapped, how they’re stored, how they’re cared for has been absolutely paramount and I can assure everyone the matauranga Maori held will be safe,” she says.

Ms Carnaby says there is also no proposal to destroy obsolete media after items have been digitised.

Legislation requires collections to be preserved, protected, developed and made accessible in perpetuity, irrespective of format.

Te Atiawa kaumatua blessed the buildings and collections several weeks ago to ensure their safety while refurbishments takes place.


A Maori maternity kaitiaki says a $103.5 million funding boost from the government into maternity services will help as long as it is directed in the right areas.

Henare Kani, the founder of Tupu - a group that specialises in indigenous childbirth education, says Maori health is suffering major challenges that can be addressed from birth.

He says increasing the midwifery workforce and more childbirth education among whanau could help Maori prepare for birth better.

He says few Maori attend childbirth education, and there is also a need for primary health services in Maori communities.

He says the current midwifery workforce needs developing so there is less stress on midwives and more choice for Maori whanau.

The funding package includes $25 million dollars delivered over four years towards longer stays for new mothers in birthing units, obstetric training for GPs, extra antenatal care for at risk mothers, and funding Plunketline 24-hour telephone advice service.


Mana magazine editor Derek Fox says the publication is taking a hit from media reports that it is up for sale.

Mr Fox says false reports that Mana is struggling to survive and looking for buyers are damaging.

“You know it’s just mischievous and annoying and what it does is create insecurity in the minds of the advertisers. Already today our sales guys said ‘What am I going to tell the advertisers. They’re all saying is there going to be another issue and what’s going on,” Mr Fox says.

The bi-monthly magazine which has been on newstands for 17 years has a 15,000 print run and 119,000 readers is in good health.


A spokesman for the New Zealand Maori Council says a proposal by the Green's to prevent the sale of customary foreshore and seabed land over-rides Maori tinorangitiratanga rights.

The Greens have suggested an amendment to the Maori Land Act to the panel looking into the Foreshore and Seabed laws but council spokesman Maanu Paul says it is not a good idea.

“It says that tino rangatiratanga for Mori ought to be conditional. That you ough not to have the power to determine the destiny of your takutai moana, of your foreshore and seabed. That it ought to be tied so that you can’t sell it. Tino rangatioratanga over any treaty asset under article two has to be unfettered,” Mr Paul says.

He says the proposal involves tinkering with the law to accommodate unfounded pakeha fears of how Maori will handle settlement money.

He says the selling of assets is something pakeha do while treaty settlements show that Maori don't sell off their land but look after it for future generations


A Maori academic with extensive experience on the world scene says Maori going to international conferences are sometimes not representing the country and Maori interests well.

Aroha Mead who has spent more than 20 years regularly attending United Nations conferences on issues ranging from the rights of indigenous people to economic development says many Maori are pushing views which are not that of Maori generally.

“Some Maori who have been attending the climate change meetings have just been talking about economic opportunities and not at all addressing the human rights issues, the livelihoods issues, the impact on traditional knowledge or medicines. They weren’t speaking any of that vocabulary. They were only talking about the money Maori could make, but currently aren’t making,” Ms Mead says.

She says often Maori going overseas are representing the interests of their own iwi or individual interests.


Prolific Auckland based author Paul Moon says lessons learned from the past relationship between Maori and Pakeha provide a textbook of what we should do today.
The Professor of Maori Studies at AUT University last week released his latest work, Edge of Empires, which looks at New Zealand in the 1850's.
He says the book involved painstaking research as there is very little historical literature to refer to, but he is convinced the New Zealand Wars of the 1860's could have been avoided.

“People tend to look at history either as entertainment or something of novelty value but when you see what was happening and you the fact we all live today with the reverberations of what was happening say in the 1850s it becomes much more important. There are lessons to be learned from this, so in a way a good history becomes a textbook for how you can manage situations,” Mr Moon says.

He gained notoriety last year with his book on Maori cannibalism.


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