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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, May 08, 2009

Workplace leaders sought in Taitokerau

With Maori unemployment now close to 12 percent, Maori in Tai Tokerau are being urged to up their skills to stay in the job market.

A three day hui starts this morning at Te Kakaporowini Marae in Whangarei on employment and training issues.

Covenor Helen Te Hira says it's part of the Learning Reps Programme, which identifies workers want extra training in some aspect of their work.
Ms Te Hira says Maori often have workplace skills but not the certification needed for promotion.

“We're finding that people won’t put their hands up. They say ‘We’d love to do a qualification but I can’t read or I don’t know how to use a computer and I don’t want my boss to know but I do want to do something about it.’ My job is to train up workplace leaders that workers listen to and the employer will recognise and get them to promote learning opportunities,” Ms Te Hira says.

The hui is also a chance to circulate some to the ideas coming out of the Government's Maori employment taskforce.

The Household Labour Force March quarter survey released yesterday found Maori unemployment jumped 1.7 percent to 11.9 percent, compared with 3.8 percent of Pakeha being jobless.


A new scholarship programme aims to increase the number of Maori fighting South Auckland's diabetes epidemic.

The Let's Beat Diabetes Nutrition course at Massey University's Albany campus has attracted 10 Maori students.

Programme director Chad Paraone says a Maori workforce skilled in nutrition and physical activity is needed to fight the high Maori obesity rate, which is a major factor in developing diabetes.

“This is about increasing the Maori workforce in the area of nutrition, making them available to Maori communities and helping whanau get access to that critical information and expert advice, hopefully from our own people, from Maori,” Mr Paraone says.

The Nutrition Scholarship programme is a partnership between Massey University's College of Sciences, Counties Manukau District Health Board and the Ministry of Health.


A leading ta moko artist says the European fascination with Maori imagery shows no sign of abating.

Gordon Toi Hadfield is off to Amsterdam tomorrow for what's become an three month working session.

He says Europeans can't get enough of ta moko, and the hype about Maori round the world means people want to connect.

In the past he traveled the European tattoo festival circuit for work, but now clients come to him.


A leading Maori unionist is predicting Maori unemployment will hit 30 percent before the recession is over.

The March quarter Household Labour Force Survey released yesterday found Maori unemployment was 11.9 percent, compared with 3.8 percent for Pakeha and 5 percent overall.

Matt McCarten from Unite says Maori are always hit first in a downturn because of their concentration in industries like construction, forestry and farming.

“While things continue on with the Government not doing any intervention at all, because it doesn’t believe in it, it believes the market is going to fix it, not only will it get to 20 percent, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets to 30 percent. It’s been there before,” Mr McCarten says.

He says the much-hyped employment summits failed to generate any usable ideas, and the Government hasn't given itself any tools to generate jobs.

A Black Power spokesman says the antics of Wanganui mayor Michael Laws has made the river city a magnet for gang members.

Parliament this week narrowly passed a bill banning the wearing of gang insignia in the city, after three ACT MPs voted in favour.

Dennis O'Reilly, a Hawkes Bay community organiser, says the law is unlikely to make much difference to gang behaviour.

But the focus on gangs in the two years since the death of toddler Jhia Te Tua in a drive by shooting has had some unexpected repercussions for the city.

“There are gang members in Whanganui than there ever were before and more gangs than there ever were before, since that focus has come upon them,” Mr O’Reilly says.

He says the Wanganui community has a right to feel outraged Jiah Te Tua's death, but the gang patch bill was the wrong response.


The so called terror raids on Ruatoki 18 months ago will again be in the spotlight tonight at the premiere of a documentary about the community response to the raids.

Rise Up will screen at Wellington's Newton Community Centre as part of an event addressing state surveillance,

It also includes speakers Michael Bott from the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, and Green Party MP Keith Locke.

Mr Locke, who has been spied on by the SIS for most of his adult life, says the October 2007 raids should never be repeated.

“I think it was a very significant event in New Zealand’s history that a community could be treated so shockingly by the police. What happened in Ruatoki and other places was way over the top and it’s great the community has responded,” Mr Locke says.


Wellington Maori theatre company Taki Rua is looking for talent for its new te reo Maori season.

The 26-year-old company is casting Matiu Te Huki's play Te Kumara Reka for a three month tour through New Zealand's heartland.

Spokesperson Keryn Jones says this month's auditions in Auckland and Wellington will seek rangatahi fluent in te reo, as many of the performances will be in Maori language settings.

Three actors will be sought.


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