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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Afghan invasion echoes through history for Parihaka

The director of the Parihaka International Peace Festival says New Zealand's involvement in the Afghanistan conflict shows the country has learned little from its own colonial history.

Today is the 128th anniversary of the invasion of the coastal Taranaki settlement by 1500 armed constabulary and militia, led by two Members of Parliament keen to end the passive resistance to land confiscation promoted by the Parihaka leaders Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai.

Te Miringa Hohaia says it's a time to ask why New Zealand is involved in another occupation and war against a group which was the legitimately elected government of its nation.

“Te Whiti and Tohu were described as fanatics. The people in Afghanistan are being described in a similar way. Invariably it requires a lot of Maori soldiers being sent to these conflicts. These are important decisions made without input of the nation. I don’t think our political leaders were very wise in the 19th century. It raises strong doubts about their wisdom today,” Mr Hohaia says.

The community will mark the attack on Saturday, because the Lutheran calendar used by Taranaki Maori of the time recorded the day as the seventh.


Auckland hapu Ngati Whatua ki Orakei is welcoming a delay in redeveloping Auckland's Queens Wharf.

Auckland Mayor John Banks and the Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee today decided to pick a winner in the design competition for what was pitched as Rugby World Cup party central.

Ngati Whatua spokesperson Ngarimu Blair says the process was flawed, with no Maori or Pacific input to the design or the judging panel.

He says it's not enough to tack on a pou or put a shark's tooth paving pattern underfoot.

He says what’s needed is activities by Maori artists and performers so they can put a mauri into the area every day.


The biographer of comedian Billy T says the country could do with a good dose of his humour today.

Matt Elliott's book "The Life and Times of Billy T James" is on bookshelves this week.

He says Billy T, who died nearly 20 years ago, was able to poke fun at racial attitudes without favour to Maori or Pakeha.
Mr Elliott, a comedian himself, says he made New Zealanders laugh at themselves.

“He wasn’t making characters up. Comedy’s not fiction. He was taking things he’d seen and putting a nice exaggeration to it so you get those comic characters and we need that. Comedy is a reflection of society and holding the mirror up to ourselves,” Mr Elliott says.

He says if Billy T was around today he would find no shortage of material.


Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira threw a sickie to get a day of fun in Paris.

Mr Harawira revealed in a newspaper column he skipped an official engagement at the European Parliament in Brussels to go sightseeing in the French capital with his wife Hilda.

Mrs Turia says all MPs need to be conscious of how their use of public funds is perceived.

She says Mr Harawira wasn't straight with her at the time.

“I'm very concerned. My understanding was he was ill over in Brussels, but it would appear he’s gone public and said that in fact he went off to Paris for a trip, that it was quite a deliberate thing that he did.

“I mean the worry for me was that Hone was the leader of that delegation and I guess what we’re going to be questioned about in future in terms of any trips overseas is that can we give a guarantee that this won’t happen again, it happened in Australia, and with hand over heart I don’t think we can give that guarantee,” Mrs Turia says.


The iwi Leaders Forum has called a series of hui to develop a Maori alternative to the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The Government has told the Maori Party it might the repeal the act, but it wants to be clear on a replacement which will recognise Maori customary interests while pretecting public access to the beaches.

The iwi forum, which includes Ngai Tahu, Ngati Toa, Whanganui, Kahungunu, Whanau Apanui, Tainui and Ngapuhi, has called a national hui in Rotorua next Tuesday afternoon, following on from a morning hui on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Ngai Tahu chairperson Mark Solomon says there will then be regional hui up until Christmas to allow smaller iwi and hapu to have their say.

“What we have here is an opportunity to present the issue from a Maori perspective to the Crown to the nation, and come up with a resolution for all. But I totally accept that the mana of the hapu, the iwi has to be recognised,” Mr Solomon


A leading Maori scholar says a decision by the Cook's cabinet to that new permanent residents must be able to speak conversational Maori is a sign of the renaissance of the language in the island nation.

Former Maori language commission Patu Hohepa spent part of last year in the Cook Islands studying the state of the language.

He says people throughout the Pacific realise they need to work to retain their languages.

“The fear has always been that we will be losing our languages, losing culture, losing our own attitudes and many of them are now finding that key to holding on to who you are is to have your language as your mother tongue and then for anyone else coming into your country to also speak the language,” Dr Hohepa says.

Along with greater use of language there is more Cook Islands culture taught in the schools.


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