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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Unprecedented cooperation at jobs summit

West Auckland Maori leader John Tamihere says this week's Maori jobs summit showed a mood of co-operation that would have been unattainable a decade ago.

The hui brought together Maori involved in business and iwi development to discuss how Maori could be insulated from the effects of the global economic crisis.

He says long standing raruraru was shelved, as people faced the challenges ahead.

“I'm not interested in the tribal argument any more. I’m, not interested in the urban iwi argument any more. I’m interested in us cooperating to advance us, so that hui changed a whole lot of paradigms for me. I’m talking to a whole bunch of people who 15 years ago I could only talk to with lawyer’s letters. That’s a huge shift and I think it will be hugely advantageous as a consequence,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says Maori affairs Minister Pita Sharples showed his political savvy by pre-empting the Prime Minister's economic summit later this month, and putting Maori economic issues on the front foot at the start of the political year.


Meanwhile Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says Maori laid off because of the recession should go back to school.

Mrs Turia says the government's proposed investments in infrastructure development might pick up some of the Maori likely to lose their jobs in the months ahead.

But she says it's a good opportunity for others to think about their long term futures, as often happens at this time in the economic cycle.

“It mightn't hurt them to bite the bullet for two or three years and get some education behind them so that these issues don’t arise every time there’s a downturn in the employment market. Part of the problem is many of our people are in unskilled jobs and they’re the last on, first off when employers are finding it hard to make ends meet,” Mrs Turia says.

The two or three years of hardship involved in getting an education at a later stage of life can pay off in the long term economic prospects for their families.


Waitangi comes almost a week early in Australia for some Maori living in Brisbane.

Waitangi 2009, an all day commemoration with Haka, entertainers and food, will be held this Sunday so maori living in the area can get together without taking a day off work and sport.

Nga Bartlett, the founder and President of Te Korowai Aroha, says she and many other maori felt a growing need to support their people within their current diverse Brisbane community.

“We wanted to involve ourselves in what’s happening and help our people, especially in such a diverse environment because in the area we’re living in, there’s 171 nationalities or ethnicities so we want to look at how we can best assist our people, especially those fresh off the boat, and there’s a lot of other Maori organisations doing the same thing,” says Mrs Bartlett, who has been in Australia for 30 years.

They expecting crowds of 10,000 plus this Sunday for the celebration.


A Maori leader believes Maori justice may be a way of beating crime among maori with offenders forced to suffer the huge embarrassment of appearing before their own people rather than being hidden away in the court system.

Support for a Maori justice system as proposed by human rights lawyer Moana Jackson comes from Maori party MP Te Ururoa Flavell in response to the gang related killing of 16-year-old Murapara teenager Jordon Herewini on Tuesday night.

“Those people who commit murders and crimes like this should be taken in front of the people they have hurt and in a public form, not just a small courthouse. You can be pretty brave in a courthouse and in front of a lot of peers who aren’t your whanau and aren’t your hapu but put you in front of the people you have hurt so the people who are hurting can see these people and feel the shame and feel the anger, and then take them away and do their time,” Mr Flavell says.

He spent the day attending the tangi of Jordon Herewini, whom he knew and describes as a really nice kid.

Police say they are closing in on the person who allegedly chased down and ran over Herewini because he was wearing a school uniform identified with the colours of a rival gang.


Fellow Maori party MP and Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples was meanwhile in Auckland attending the funeral of another teenager killed in tragic circumstances - Tongan courier driver Halatau Naitoko.

Pita Sharples says his attendance was a way of sharing the grief of the community, family and friends of the 17 year old who died after he was caught in police cross fire during the motorway chase of an armed man last Friday.

“We received a call the Maori presence there wasn’t very strong and it should have been and to those who have been, I appreciate it. That’s what we’re are about,” Dr Sharples.

Other politicians including Police Minister Judith Collins who joined more than 1000 mourners at the traditional Tongan funeral in Mangere East.


An early Waitangi Day for Maori across the Tasman but no day off!

Nga Bartlett, the founder and President of Te Korowai Aroha, says a day off was not the motivating factor for setting up a Waitangi Day celebration in her culturally diverse Brisbane community.

“I set up Waitangi Day to take it away from the Pakeha who were using our Maori people and using Waitangi Day to raise money for their business as a draw card for people to drink. My committee put in straight away a no alcohol policy and making Waitangi Day a family day,” she says.

The Waitangi Day 2009 event is this Sunday and will also be a fundraiser for the haka group Tautoko who are coming home for Te Matatini Kapahaka Nationals in February.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Jobs summit about new jobs, not old ones

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is defending the exclusion of unions from this week's Maori jobs summit.

Mrs Turia says they weren't missed, as the focus of the hui was looking at economic opportunity in the face of the recession.

“I don't think that the unions should be offended. There were a lot of Maori people who weren’t invited to go so there will be a number of sectors that weren’t invited to go either. This was forward looking and looking more at what people cold do to stimulate the economy rather than how they protect the jobs,” Mrs Turia says.

Maori who are laid off because of the recession should think seriously about taking time off for study so they can move beyond vulnerable low skill jobs.


Meanwhile, former Labour cabinet minister John Tamihere says Pita Sharples stole the jump on John Key.

The head of west Auckland's Te whanau O Waipareira Trust says the Minister of Maori Affairs showed great skill in pulling together pull together a forum of influential Maori leaders to respond to the global economic crisis.

He says that would not have happened with the previous government.

“Pita Sharples has shown his leadership skills are extraordinary. He preempted the Prime Minister’s jobs summit. In Labour we would never have been allowed to do that. The Maoris would have had to have waited for Helen Clark to run a job summit, and we would have had a bit to play in there. What Pete’s done, because he’s in the Maori Party is politically savvy, very astute, on the from foot from day one of the new parliament,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says Maori are not responsible for the economic mayhem caused by the greed shown in Wall St, Queen St or Lambton Quay, but they will be among the first to feel the affects.


An Auckland University academic believes his research on child abuse in the United States and across the Tasman can help improve Maori parenting.

Family psychology professor Matt Sanders, who is also director of the University of Queensland's Parenting and Family Support Centre, worked on a population trial of the Triple P System in South Carolina and Australia.

Triple P stands for positive parenting programme, and it aims to provide consistent support to parents.

Professor Sanders says the system could be redeveloped for New Zealand conditions in partnership with Maori.

“These kind programmes are likely to be not only accepted by parents but they will look forward to doing them because this is not about catching out parents who are struggling, this is about supporting all families and recognising it's a tough job being a parent,” Professor Sanders says.

He is setting up a Triple P research centre in Auckland.


Maori groups are preparing practical proposals to take to next month's Prime Minister's jobs summit.

Ngatata Love, the chair of this week's Maori jobs summit, says the ideas thrown up show Maori aren't going to be caught napping in the economic crisis, as happened in the late 1980s.

He says despite the short notice, hui participants had a clear idea of what they could contribute to New Zealand's economic well being.

They are now looking forward to the February 27 hui.

“The Maori initiatives will be very practical, they will be able to be implemented within the 12 months time frame or less, they will be creating jobs rather than speculating about how we can change various systems and policies to allow things to happen. I think our people will go their with actual practical solutions, and I think they could be the star of the show,” Professor Love says.

Many Maori groups have land in places where housing is needed, including at least 300 sites in Wellington, and by working with government agencies they can get to work while materials are cheap and labour is available.


Meanwhile, the country's largest Maori tertiary organisation is gearing up to take advantage of the recession.

Te Wananga o Aotearoa had its roots in the last major recession, when it started as a training centre attached to a Te Awamutu high school.

Its target this year is 21,000 student positions, and chief executive Bentham Ohia says it has built up considerable experience upskilling people who may have been overlooked by the school system.

“Our organisation when it started was to be an option available to those people in training towards improving their employability in the future. There’s an opportunity for the organisation to position to extend its support to our traditional market base but also to others who will be made redundant from their work,” Mr Ohia says.

The wananga's low or nil fee policy helps break down the barriers to further study.


The national kapa haka competitions are to return to Olympic style judging, which could remove some of the allegations of bias which have flared up in recent years.

Te Matatini will be held in the baypark Stadium in Tauranga in three weeks, with Te Arawa teams back in the competiton after a four year boycott.

Trevor Maxwell, the kaiwhakahaere for Rotorua-based team Nga Uri O Te Whanua, says recent competitions included the scores of all four judges for each discipline.

A hui of regional delegates late last year decided to revert back to an older scoring system.

“The judging has gone back to something that worked before, the Olympic system in having four judges per discipline, and the top mark is taken off and the bottom mark is taken off. It takes away any bias or favouritism or maverick,” Mr Maxwell says.

Delegates also voted to increase from six to nine the number of teams involved in the Sunday finals, and all finalists will take to the stage with a clean slate.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We can see Russia from our marae

Auckland's Ngati Whatua hapu has told the Government it wants to see the tino rangatiratanga flag flying from the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The Prime Minister has asked Maori Affairs Pita Sharples to consult with Maori on which flag should represent Maori on the bridge on next year's Waitangi Day.

Ngati Whatua spokesperson Ngarimu Blair says when the issue first came up last year, hapu chair Grant Hawke told the Government the tribe's preference was for the tino rangatiratanga flag.

He says Dr Sharples should heed the call of his Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia that he should only consult with mana whenua iwi.

“It's the Auckland Harbour Bridge, not the New Zaland Harbour Bridge. It’s not a parliament building, council building, it’s a bridge, and therefore we’d support her call that it consultation should primarily be with local iwi, the tangata whenua, which is us. Our mana here in Tamaki, we can see the bridge from our marae,” Mr Blair says.

Ngati Whatua is expecting up to 30 thousand people at its Waitangi Day concert at the Okahu Bay reserve, which will feature House of Shem, Tama Waipara and Sons of Zion.


Northland-based Maori MP Shane Jones says Ngati Whatua has no right to say which flag should represent Maori.

The Labour list MP says Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is wrong tribally and politically to say the decision should rest with mana whenua groups.

He says the Orakei-based hapu spends too much time talking up its mana rather than talking to its neighbours.

“Ngati Whatua’s public statements go beyond the line of what is acceptable. They have no right and they have been given no authority to choose a flag on behalf of all the Maori tribes, and if they are going to show this level of hospitality on my behalf, they can start paying the toll from Ngapuhi every time we go through the Puhoi toll road in their rohe,” Mr Jones says.

Mr Jones says there needs to be serious debate about the country national symbols, but the way the Maori Party is going about it will alienate many New Zealanders and especially Auckland motorists.


The outgoing head of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority says tribal authorities are gradually coming to terms with organisations representing city-based Maori.

June Jackson says the authority was set up in the early 1980s because of concerns the then-government's devolution policies were ignoring Maori who lived away from their own iwi.

She says that caused resentment, as other groups felt they were competing for resources.

“I think it’s lessened but at the time it was pretty hot. They were highly critical of who did we think we were. The tribes didn;’t like uys and didn’t like what we were doing, but we all move on, we get older and that's life,” Mrs Jackson says.

She will be succeeded as MUMA chief executive by her son, former Alliance MP turned broadcaster Willie Jackson.


The chair of yesterday's Maori jobs summit says Maori organisations are keen to use their assets to create new jobs and opportunities for their people.

Ngatata Love says the hui brought out people invited and uninvited who realise there is a crisis and want to get working on answers.

He says Maoridom has considerable resources which can be released.

“The key players, those that have assets, that have resoruces tht they can turn into work opportunities, often in cooperation with Crown agencies or with other iwi, will move ahead very quicklyto identify those, to see what road blocks there may be in areas like construction and forestry and housing, those sorts of things, to actually create the jobs and get the economy moving again,” Professor Love says.

Based on yesterday's hui, Maori will make a powerful contribution to next month's Prime minister's jobs summit.


A Northland-based Maori MP is attacking a bid to give Auckland's Ngati Whatua the final say on what flag representing Maori should fly from the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Shane Jones says Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has no right tribally or politically to say the decision should rest with the Orakei-based hapu.

A Ngati Whatua spokesperson says the hapu would be happy to see the tino rangatiratanga flag flown - which is also Mrs Turia's pick.

Mr Jones says the debate is trivialising the Maori contribution to the development of New Zealand's national symbols.

“A flag has to reflect the finest sentiments and people’s level of confidence as to what symbols and what kind of signs we want to represent us, and that is not to be made by Ngati Whatua, they’ve gone beyond the pale in my view, and they should sit down and spend more time talking to their neighbours rather than trumping up what authority they falsely think they have on our behalf,” Mr Jones says.

He says at a time the nation faces economic calamity, the flag debate seems frivilous and divisive.


Whitireia Polytechnic's performing arts programme is about to cross a major cultural barrier.

The 19-year-old programme teaches students dance moves and musical styles from a wide range of Polynesian cultures, including Maori, Tongan, Samoan and Niuean.

Now it's moving from Porirua to central Wellington, to take advantage of a larger dance studio in the Vivian Street Performing Arts Studio in Vivian Street.

Tutor Gaylene Sciascia says it's an exciting challenge for the course, which prides itself on the way it is able to maintain the cultural integrity of its material.

Each year's intake does an international tour as part of the programme.

Putea needed to turn talk fest to into fix

A Labour MP says yesterday's Maori economic summit will be just a talk fest unless the Government puts substantial resources into tackling Maori concerns.

Shane Jones attended the summit after host Pita Sharples reversed an earlier decision not to include Opposition Maori MPs.

He says the ad hoc nature of the event, which was organised on short notice, means it is hard to see it producing any hard-nosed plans.

“My fear is it will be a talk fest. I mean a task force is fine but we had task forces in the days of Tau Henare, and unless you have got significant budgetary assistance, and a commitment from both the unions and the private sector to help develop Maori so they remain economic contributors and not social casualties, then I think it will just be a talk fest,” Mr Jones says.

He says next month's main employment summit next month needs to include representatives from firms and unions who are dealing with Maori concerns every day, rather than just a few consultants.


The housing minister wants councils to make it easier for Maori to build on their own land.

Phil Heatley says it is one of a number of issues he is looking at to make housing more affordable.

He says the issue was raised by Maori appearing before last year's commerce select committee inquiry into housing.

“Hapu and iwi groups are finding that papakainga land development is very difficult because of very strict zoning rules. Much of the multiple owned Maori land is zoned rural. Secondly banks are not prepared to back it because they don’t feel they have security across the land and I believe our government can address that and we are certainly going to be looking into it,” Mr Heatley says.

Much of the suitable Maori land is in rural and semi-rural areas, so the supply of infrastructure can also be a significant problem.


Iwi from the top half of the North Island are preparing for one of the biggest gatherings of waka since 1990.

Eighteen canoes are booked in for annual Waitangi regatta in the Bay of Islands in response to a tono or challenge laid down by Kingi Tuheitia at the August launch of Hector Busby’s new voyaging waka Ngahirakimaitawhiti.

Tamahou Temara from Toi Maori says six of the waka are from Tainui.

The largest previous waka gathering was in 1990, when 22 waka descended on the Bay of Islands.


Labour's building and construction spokesperson says proposals to make it easier to build on Maori land are a diversion from the real issues of Maori housing.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley has asked officials to look at the local body
planning restrictions which discourage papakainga housing.

But Shane Jones says the country needs 20 thousand new dwellings a year, and they're not needed in the sort of areas where there may be undeveloped Maori land.

“Maori are predominantly an urban people. You’re not going to resolve Maori housing issues by sorting out gorse riddled land in Ekatahuna, Ruatahuna or some other huna. The reality is it’s predominantly and urban problem and until the man comes up with a putea, a fund to meet the needs of all needy people and particularly Maori, then all he’s doing is playing diversionary politics,” Mr Jones says.

He says a setting a target of funding 100 houses for Maori a month would be a realistic way to make a dent in the problem.


The Greens Maori affairs spokesperson says workers were invisible at yesterday's summit on Maori employment.

Metiria Turei says the Maori Party erred by not inviting the unions who represent substantial numbers of Maori.

The Dunedin-based MP says while business growth is important, so too is protecting the existing jobs of Maori workers in vulnerable sectors of the economy.

“I'm disappointed I didn’t get an invite but I can see they need to talk with experts on this issue then that’s fine but I would expect that workers’ experts and workers’ organisations should have been involved as well,” Ms Turei says.

Hui participant Ngahiwi Tomoana from Ngati Kahungunu says there was a mood of optimism at the summit, as Maori leaders all saw the need to work together in true kotahitanga.


There's a change of guard at the top of one of the country's largest urban Maori authorities.

June Jackson has retired as chief executive of Manukau Urban Maori Authority, to be replaced by her son, former Alliance MP Willie Jackson.

Mr Jackson says over the past two decades the authority has grown with its community, and his mother has supplied steady leadership.

“Very proud of what she’s done over the years” run restorative justice programmes, got education programmes running and funeral business and driving school and I think she’s really made an impression with Maori in south Auckland. The realty is she’s getting on and she made a decision to step down. It’s good the board has supported me in terms of taking over from her,” Mr Jackson says.

The change of guard and likely extra demand brought on by the recession means MUMA has plans for significant expansion of programmes over the next year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kotahitanga spirit at economic hui

Maori attending today's economic summit were positive Maori can make a significant contribution to getting New Zealand through tough economic times.

Ngahiwi Tomoana, the chair of Ngati Kahungunu, says Maori are keen to extract value out of their assets, and to do that they need to partner with the Crown.

He says participants are keen to continue working with Maori Party co-leader and associate Maori affairs minister Pita Sharples, who called the hui.

“Kotahitanga was the theme for the day. Although it’s been korero in the past and even though we’ve treated it as korero, we’ve actually come a long way and more determined to take it even further so mood of optimism, mood of positivism and mood of kotahitanga, something I haven’t seen in Maori politics for a long time,” Ms Tomoana says.

If Maori can come up with good ideas, there is no better person to sell them to the government and the country than Dr Sharples.


The Greens Maori spokesperson says the government's decision to scrap a billion dollar plan to upgrade the country's housing is a major step backwards for Maori.

The money was to insulate state and rental houses, making them more energy efficient and healthier to live in.

Meteria Turei says cold and damp housing is a major cause of health problems among Maori whanau.

She says Maori workers also stood to benefit from the jobs created by the programme.

“It's our people who will suffer the most because we tend to use the lower income housing more as well as be at the bottom level of the employment.

“We’re hoping to negotiate a resumption of the billion dollar fund or at least a part of it if we can,” Ms Turei says.


There's a new face in charge of Te Wananga o Aotearoa's biggest region.

The largest Maori tertiary institution yesterday welcomed on Yvonne Hawke, who was formerly vice president-community at west Auckland polytechnic Unitec.

She will be in charge of Tamaki Makaurau and Tai Tokerau, which account for about a third of the wananga's 19 thousand students.

Mrs Hawke, from Ngati Ranginui, Ngati Awa and Ngati Pikiao, used to be Maori education director at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic before moving to Auckland to head Unitec's Puukenga-School of Maori Education and Maia-Maori Development Centre.

She is the author of numerous papers on Maori educational issues.
Chief executive Bentham Ohia says it's a significant appointment as the wananga again sets a path for growth.

He says tough economic conditions represent opportunity for tertiary institutions, because people realise the need to build up their skills to make themselves more employable.


This year's controversial pick as Australian of the year is an academic and Aboriginal activist who has worked closely with Maori rights campaigners.

Mick Dodson has been dubbed the godfather of grievance for his insistence that apologies weren't enough, and Australia's indigenous people deserved compensation for what was done to them in the course of colonisation.

His first speech after receiving the award referred to Australia day as a day of mourning.

Rotorua lawyer Annette Sykes, a friend of the Australian National University law professor, says that's vintage Dodson.

“That's absolutely consistent with the way he has taught jurisprudence and his deconstruction of colonisation in the Pacific and why he has been a loud advocate, like people like Moana Jackson, for a decolonization programme to be committed to by the Australian government, the New Zealand government and the Canadian Government,” Ms Sykes says.

As well as his academic achievements, Mick Dodson has a track record of real contributions to his Yawuru peoples of Western Australia.


Meanwhile, a Christchurch academic says it's too early to declare the Maori protest movement dead.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Canterbury University's school of Maori and indigenous studies, says people are cutting National and its partner the Maori Party some slack.

That's likely to result in a quite Waitangi day this year, but if there is not movement soon on important Maori issues, expect the temperature to rise.

“Probably a bit of a honeymoon period at the moment. One thing with Maori protest is it leaders tend to be thrown up according to the issues of the day. On the treaty front, we’ve got the water, review of the foreshore and seabed legislation, WAI 22 intellectual property, that’s due out this year. We’ll see how it goes. There’s still potential for some bumps,” associate professor Taonui says.

He says Prime Minister John Key has played the right cards so far by teaming up with the Maori Party.


What there will be at Waitangi are waka, and lots of them.

Northern iwi are preparing for one of the largest fleets to ever grace the Bay of Islands in recent years.

Tamahou Temara from Toi Maori's says Nga Waka Federation lined up 18 waka for the annual regatta which is part of the treaty commemoration programme.

That includes six waka from Tainui, there to support King Tuheitia on his first voyage north as te arikinui.

Iwi in from Bay of Plenty, Auckland and the far north are also involved in the mass waka project.

Invisible protest no indicator

A long-time Maori activist says the likely lack of protest activity on Waitangi Day should not be read as a sign of content across Maoridom.

Annette Sykes, a Rotorua lawyer, says many issues remain unresolved.

She says the mood of optimism sparked by the election of America's first Black president is tempered by the economic turmoil, and discontent among Maori is just bubbling under the surface as families start feeling the effect.

“Waitangi may well be a forum where ‘Yes we can’ from Obama might mean ‘can we really’ when we start to analyse the realities of what’s happening in terms of destruction of whanau livelihoods as a result of the likely redundancies, the exploitation or resources like oil and wood from our territories, yet the lack of guarantee of ongoing sustainability and work for our families,” Ms Sykes says.

She says now it's part of the government, the Maori Party can expect to be challenged at Waitangi.


A former Maori Auckland Regional Councilor says Maori will need more than two or three representatives on any super-city council.

The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance is expected to recommend a body covering the whole Auckland region.

Nganeko Minhinnick, who was on the ARC's during the brief period in the late 1980s when it had two Maori seats, says since then Maori have become more aware of the impact local government has on issues such as waahi tapu.

She says divisions over the way the previous government was handling the Tamaki Makaurau claims means there is now less agreement between the half dozen mana whenua iwi than there was 20 years ago.

“I don't think any one of that group will allow one to speak for all, and you might in future have some people making claims against ourselves,” Mrs Minhinnick says.


After 18 years in Porirua, an internationally acclaimed performing arts programme is moving into central Wellington.

Manager Mary-Rose Royal says the Whiteria Bachelor of Applied Arts programme has been offered space in the Performing Arts Studio in Vivian Street, which gives it a larger and more accessible dance studio.
She says the programme has produced many of this country's leading performers.

“I think our kaupapa is about tu tangata, it’s about standing our young people tall through their involvement in the performing arts but it’s also to celebrate the cultural diversity of Aotearoa and be able to dance across cultures and for the last 16 years we’ve traveled internationally with our students every year,” Ms Royal says.

The unique programme includes Samoan, Cook Islands, Maori and contemporary New Zealand dance along with studies in creative enterprise and research.


Maori unionists have been left out of today's economic summit called by the Maori Party, leading to calls for Maori workers to sign up for their union.

Syd Keepa, the convenor of the Council of Trade Unions runanga, says CTU Maori vice president Sharon Clair was invited in her capacity as an iwi leader and Hui Taumata member, rather than wearing her union hat.

He says Maori and Polynesian workers will be hard hit by the global financial squeeze, and they need every bit of protection they can get.

“Join a union now because if you job’s at stake at the moment, particularly in manufacturing, a lot of those workers that will be put off this year will go out the door with just a shake of the hand, so it’s important the message goes out to those un-unionised Maori workers to actually join a union,” Mr Kepa says.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the party will never take the Ratana movement for granted.

That was one of the accusations made during last week's commemoration hui for the movement's founder, which marks the start of Labour's annual political calendar.

Mr Goff says he was able to address the concern on the spot.

“I had quite long discussions with Ruia Abraham who was the person who made the comment about not being taken for granted and I think by the time I left in the evening w had a good understanding of the benefits to Rata and the benefits to Labour working together for the same reason the alliance originally began because the morehu, their interests are represented by both organisations and we can achieve more by working together than working separately,” Mr Goff says.

At the last general election the majority of Maori, including Ratana followers, remained loyal to Labour with their party vote even if they gave their electorate vote to the Maori Party.


Gerry Merito is being taken back this morning to Rotorua, his base for many years as a pivotal member of the Howard Morrison Quartet.

His son John Merito says the entertainer, who died on Monday after performing a concert in the Waikato, will lie on Mataatua Marae on the old Taupo Road until the funeral service on Friday morning, which will be followed by private cremation.

Entertainer and former showband member Frankie Stevens says Gerry Merito will be remembers as a great performer who had a major influence on the quartet's sound and stage act.

“He had a sense of humour and a musicality I think I quite unique to New Zealand. He was the comedic brilliance behind the Howard Morrison Quartet,” Mr Stevens says.

Gerry Merito also influenced many of the Maori entertainers who followed on, like Billy T James and Pio Terei.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Council conflicts remembered

A former Maori Auckland Regional Councillor says Maori representation on a possible Auckland super-city needs to be about more than dedicated seats.

The ARC recommended to the Royal Commission on Auckland governance that any super-city council should included Maori seats, possibly voted for on Maori electorate lines.

Manukau harbour claimant Nganeko Minhinnick from Ngati te Ata, who served a term on one of the ARC's two short-lived Maori seats in the late 1980s, says while it was good to have a voice at the table, her fellow councillors found it hard to cope with a Maori viewpoint.

She was barred from sitting on matters which related the Manukau because of an alleged conflict of interest, despite being elected by the Maori round its shores.

“So I used to say to them, ‘are you saying I own the harbour, because that’s what I’m claiming.’ ‘No, no, no, you don’t own the harbour.’ So where’s the conflict? The planning committee was much the same. They used to say ‘You can’t do this,’ and I used to think how can you contribute to those planning sessions or water board decisions and give your experience and your expertise when you are seen to have a conflict of interest,” Mrs Minihinnick says.

She says more than two or three Maori councilors would be needed to represent the diversity of Maori interests in the region.


Labour leader Phil Goff is predicting the Maori Party's decision to link up with National will be strained by the deepening economic crisis.

Labour is holding a two-day caucus in Auckland to plan its year ... and work out how it can win back Maori voters.

Mr Goff says the Maori Party was entitled to support the National government with a confidence and supply agreement.

“But it may come back to bite them if the Government does not deliver on its promises and if we find out that the people who suffer most through this period of recession are the people that the Maori Party might otherwise claim to represent,” Mr Goff says.

He says the Government has under-estimated how much the international situation will affect New Zealand, especially as Asian markets are slowing faster than expected.


Meanwhile, the chair of the Maori Tourism Council says a downturn in the number of international visitors will force Maori tourism operators to look to the domestic market.

John Barrett says many are using the lull to refine their products and review marketing strategies.

“New Zealanders tend not to, consciously or unconsciously, patronize Maori tourism operations. That’s what all the surveys say. But certainly the opportunity is here now for us to market more to the domestic market, and we will be doing that,” he says.


A big turn-out from Tainui is expected at Waitangi next week, accompanying King Tuheitia on his first trip to Treaty commemorations as Maori King.

Rahui Papa, the deputy chair of the Tainui tribal executive, says more than 500 people are expected to make the trip north.

That includes paddlers for the iwi's six waka, which are more usually seen on the Waikato River.

He says river paddling calls for different skills than the sea, but the paddlers, and the canoes, are familiar with the conditions.

King Tuheitia and his supporters, as well as members of the Tongan royal family, will be welcomed to Waitangi on the fourth of February, to relieve pressure on their hosts the following day.


There are fears a plan to cut 200 doctors' positions from Auckland hospitals will disproportionately affect Maori.

The region's District Health Boards are considering the move because they can't fill the positions.

Curtis Walker from Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa, the association of Maori doctors, says Maori often put off seeking primary health care.

“We also tend not to have the dollars to go to private accident and emergency clinics or get full private health care. The first impact, if it were to go ahead, which we hope it won’t, given that Maori wind up in hospital more and needing to access the public health system so there’s a greater impact for Maori there in terms of hospital services and waiting in the emergency department,” Dr Walker says

Rather than trying to fudge its staffing numbers, the district health boards should address the problems behind the 38 percent turnover of doctors in their hospitals.


A top Maori surfer wants to again see Maori again dominate the sport.

Raglan-based Daniel Kereopa, regarded as one of the best New Zealand has produced, was just beaten out by a 17-year old at the recent nationals held at Piha.

He says a lot of talent is emerging talent in the junior grades, but more work needs to be done to put Maori back on top of the waves.

“We used to be the force of New Zealand surfing. We need to get out kids in early, get them into the water, roll them into the competitions and dominate the sport,” he says.

Kereopa is looking forward to more big wave surfing during the winter months.

Maori ill served by council processes

The chair of the Auckland Regional Council says the present systems for Maori involvement in local government aren't working in the region.

Mike Lee says Maori representation is one of the most important issues the Royal Commission on Auckland governance needs to settle.

The commission's report, which is due by the end of March, is expected to recommend the merger of Auckland's councils into some sort of super city.

Mr Lee says there should be one place Maori can go to make their voice heard, rather than have to make their case to multiple agencies.

He says Maori representation at the council table could be accommodated by using existing parliamentary electorates as wards, including those parts of the Maori electorates which fall within the region.


Training more Maori is being touted as a solution to a shortage of junior doctors.

Curtis Walker from Te Onu Rata O Aotearoa, the association of Maori doctors, says plans by district health boards in the Auckland region to cut the number of resident doctors' positions don't make sense.

The boards says they can't fill more then 200 positions, so it makes sense to take them off the books.

But Dr Walker says the boards need to look at the reasons behind the high turnover of doctors.

“No point training doctors if you’re just going to lose them. The Auckland District Health Board has a 38 percent turnover rate. That’s almost half their staff turning over in one year. To us that says if you can halve that turnover rate by being a better employer, you would fix the problem without having to cut doctors and without having to cut services,” Dr Walker says.

Maori doctors are more inclined to stay in New Zealand and work for their communities rather than chase the money on offer overseas, so it makes sense to train more of them.


The head of Canterbury University's school of Maori and indigenous studies says a new scholarship programme fits well with a Ngai Tahu initiative to revitalise Te reo Maori in the region.

The university is to put up 300 places for students learning te reo me ona tikanga, at a cost of $70,000.

Rawiri Taonui says in past generations the number of Maori speakers in Christchurch was boosted by young Maori coming south for trade training schemes, but now the speakers need to be trained at home.


Maori Party leader Tariana Turia says the decision on which Maori flag flies on Auckland Harbour Bridge should be left to the region's iwi.

Prime minister John Key has indicated he would support a flag being raised for next year's Waitangi Day, but it's up to Maori to agree on whether it should be the 1835 United Tribes ensign, the red and black Tino Rangatiratanga flag or some other option.

Mrs Turia says Wanganui iwi don't ask anyone's permission to fly the tino rangatiratanga flag as a symbol of solidarity and Maori self determination.

“On every occasion where Pakaitore is used, the tino rangatiranga flag is raised. We’re not going to ask Ngapuhi or Ngati Whatua for their permission, so why should the rest of us have a say about something that’s up there, It’s their bridge, it’s their riohe, it’s their mana whenua, and maybe that’s a message that should be given to John Key,” Mrs Turia says.


A short film by Wiremu Grace has been accepted for screening at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival.

Kehua is the story of a Maori boy raised in Australia who returns home for a tangi, and discovers he has a gift for seeing Maori spirits, but struggles to understand their messages.

The Ngati Toa writer says the film's lead, Porirua youngster Arama Vincent Wihapi, is an exciting new talent who stood out among the 54 who auditioned for the lead role.

The low budget 13-minute short film would not have been possible without support from his whanau, including his mother, novelist Patricia Grace, the runanga which supplied a vans and the cousins who laid down the hangi and filled in as extras.


It's the end of a great partnership.

Gerry Merito, a founder member of the Howard Morrison Quartet, died yesterday morning, hours after performing a solo concert at a Waikato hotel.

Actor Tem Morrison, a recent member of the Quartet, says it has been an honour to share the stage with his uncle Sir Howard and Merito.

He says the pair had a rare chemistry which sustained them over more than half a century of music and humour.

“Gerry was like Uncle Howard’s backbone. Uncle Howard needs somebody to feed off for all the humour to have a base, and with Gerry as his right hand man, that ability to just have that humour and there’s no thought required. They just know each other so well. Uncle Howard didn’t have a quartet without Gerry being there,” Mr Merito says.

Funeral arrangements are still being made for Gerry Merito, who was from Tuhoe and Ngati Awa.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bennett bail offer wins Turia praise

Associate social welfare minister Tariana Turia is backing her boss over revelations she housed a street gang member awaiting trial.

A Sunday newspaper reported Paula Bennett allowed her daughter's boyfriend, Viliami Halaholo, to be bailed to her Titirangi home for four months in 2006 while he was waiting trial for causing grievous bodily harm.

The Maori party co-leader says the Social Development Minister was doing the right thing.

“I really applaud Paula Bennett for showing she’s prepared to put her family first, that she’s not going to be bogged down with all this notion of what you have to look like and be to be a minister. I was so proud to know that her daughter and her baby were more important to her than the media,” Mrs Turia says.

The newspaper also tried to drag Mrs Turia into the story by inaccurately bringing up an incident where she wrote a letter supporting the move of a former foster child to Wanganui prison to be closer to his family.


The Auckland Regional Council wants Maori seats to be an automatic part of any Auckland super city.

Chairperson Mike Lee says that was part of the council's submission to the Royal Commission which is expected to recommend merging the region's territorial local authorities.

He says the region includes three Maori electorates, and wide consultation among its iwi indicates most support using them as the basis for a franchise.

“What we asked for was that for this greater Auckland authority, that the representation be on the old parliamentary electorates, so that would mean about 23 seats and two or three would be Maori seats,” Mr Lee says.

He says existing relationships with mana whenua groups need to be maintained and enhanced under any new system.
The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance is due to report by the end of March.


Organisers of the first Tribal Pride concert hope to make it an annual event.

Biggs Taurerewa says the venue, the Tainui's Hopuhopu base, was ideal for the alcohol-free festival.

More than 6000 people turned out for acts including Nesian Mystik, Ardijah, Katchafire, Scribe and Kora.

He says the former army base has hosted dozens of Maori and national sporting events, but it's the first time it's been used for a concert, but a follow-up concert is likely.

The concert raised a substantial koha for Whakaruruhau, the collective of Women's Refuges.


One of New Zealand's most well known entertainers has sung his last parody.

Gerry Merito, a founder member of the Howard Morrison Quartet, died at the Waihou Hotel in the Waikato this morning.

He penned comedy-style hits for the quartet during its heyday in the 1960s, including My Old Man's an All Black and Battle of the Waikato, as well as having a solo career.

Sir Howard Morrison says he's pleased he had a chance to again perform with the Ngai Tuhoe singer and guitarist and share their reminiscences in the course of filming last month's Maori Television special on the quartet.

“He was gold to me. I’m just absolutely devastated. He was a great gift to Maoridom, to all of music and humanity, and a great example of mana to his iwi tuturu,” Sir Howard says.


The Whanganui River tribes of Te Atihaunui a Paparangi are also in mourning for kaumatua Jim Takarangi, who died in Wanganui hospital yesterday after a long illness.

The Maori Battalion veteran and president of the battalion's association was 83.

Archie Taiaroa, the chair of the Whanganui River Maori Trust Board, says Mr Takarangi made an important contribution to the river claim because of his detailed knowledge Matapehi or the window, as the lower reaches of the river are known.

“The river people will miss him most definitely because he’s always the voice heard and the face that’s been seen on all of the marae, whether they’re issues surrounding the iwi totally or youth groups of Maori Battalion, whatever is going on, he’s an integral part of it,” Mr Taiaroa says.

Jim Takarangi was this morning taken to Pakaitore, scene of the Moutoa gardens occupation he helped to resolve, before being taken across the river to lie in state at Putiki Marae.


Canterbury University is offering 300 scholarships to encourage students to learn te reo Maori.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of the school of Maori and indigenous studies Aotahi, says the $70,000 programme is seen as an effective way to get more Maori spoken in and around Otautahi.

He says while many universities offer language courses, scholarships provide added incentive.

“Te reo is important for the development and revitalisation of Maori. It’s also important for Pakeha people and non-Maori to study to reo, because that’s part of our future, speaking to each other in both languages,” associate professor Taonui says.