Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big turnout for marae opening

More than 500 people braved pre-dawn showers this morning to witness the opening of Auckland's newest meeting house.

The darkness at Unitec was split by ancient chants as tohunga enacted the rituals of whakatuwhera te whare.

Hare Paniora, the polytechnic's Pae Arahi, says as well as mana whenua, Ngati Whare and Ngati Manawa were invited to participate because they gifted logs from the Minginui forest to master carver Lyonel Grant for the project.

There was also a strong showing from Mr Grant's Te Arawa and Ngati Pikiao iwi.

Mr Paniora says the name of the house, Ngakau Mahaki, was a value shown by the Unitec kaumatua who played a major role in getting the project off the ground, the late John Turei.

“It's one of the significant characteristics of Sir John Turei who was very much humility and respect so the house, in effect, one way of saying the house is him, but you don’t have to put his name on there. The name of the marae of course is Noho Kotahitanga, which is to reside in unity,” Mr Paniora says.

Ngakau Mahaki is already booked out for the next 10 months for weekend marae noho.


Organisers of the WOMAD festival in New Plymouth says there could be strong international interest in the Maori acts sharing the stages with the best of world music and dance.

Lined up for slots over the weekend are Anika Moa, Moana and the Tribe, Fat Freddy's Drop, Hinemoa Baker and Mihirangi.

Marketing manager Lisa McCullen says the international media is particularly interested in the local performers.

“I've been receiving a lot of emails asking when their particular performance times are. People are wanting to plan their Womad adventure and they want to know what time and what stage they are on so they can make sure they are front row,” Ms McCullen says.

The eight iwi of Taranaki are sharing the responsibilty of looking after the Womad paepae, where festival goers are welcomed and introduced to aspects of Maori culture.


Staying in the world of music, a tribute concert for the late Inia te Wiata in Auckland on sunday will be an extra special occasion for one of the performers.

The celebrated baritone carved out a distinguished career in England from the late forties until his death in 1971.

The concert, which is part of Auckland Festival 09, will feature video footage of his stage performances, as well as renditions of his repertoire sung by a range of performers including his daughter Rima te Wiata.

She admits to reservations about the show but realised she had to do it.

Rima Te Wiata will be joined on stage at the Aotea Centre by kapa haka roopu Te Manuhui, cabaret singer Leon Wharekura, soprano Teana Brennan, baritone Ash Puriri and Ruia Aperahama and his band.


A new meeting house on the grounds of Unitec polytechnic in Auckland is being hailed as a national treasure.

Ngakau Mahaki, which has been built under the direction of Ngati Pikiao master carver Lyonel Grant, was opened with the traditional dawn ceremonies today.

Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey told the hui the event was a ka awatea, a new awakening for the institution.

“What we are seeing here is an absolutely amazing work of art on an international scale. The place has got an extraordinary sense of worth in terms of culture and history and place and purpose. I think this is up there with the Louvre. New Zealand doesn’t have a lot of great treasures. This is a treasure,” Mr Harvey says.

He says the new house represents a healing of the Unitec site, which for 80 years housed Auckland's mental hospitals.


Foreign producers, festival directors, and curators have been getting a taste of New Zealand's artistic culture this week.

As part of the Auckland 09 Festival, Creative New Zealand and Te Waka Toi have been running a showcase at Orakei Marae.

It included a performance of Taki Rua Production's play Strange Resting Places.

Maori arts advisor Haniko Te Kurapa says Creative New Zealand is keen to identify export ready products.

He says taking part in international festivals helps grow the capacity of the country's performers.


It's a great day for the Irish … and the Maori in Hawkes Bay on Sunday.

It's the 3rd annual St Patricks Day hui ... huili, where Irish and Maori come together to celebrate a common love of music, friends and family.

Organiser Dennis O'Reilly from Waiohiki says the St Patricks Day address will be given by Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney General Chris Finlayson.

That will be followed by speeches in Gaelic and Maori, a charity art auction, and a procession to the top of Otatara, the ancient maunga of the Waiohiki hapu, led by Irish musicians.

“It's a coming together of cultures. It’s respecting each other at a cultural level and having a good time and raining some bucks for the youth development and the various things that are happening at Waiohiki,” Mr O'Reilly says.

Dawn opening for Ngakau Mahaki

Over the past couple of hours, a new marae in the grounds of Unitec has been opened in the traditional manner.

It has taken master carver Lyonel Grant five years to carve the house, Ngakau Mahaki, which uses construction methods not seen since the 19th century.

Mr Grant says for what is his third major wharenui, he has tried to tell the story of Auckland.

“The korero starts in the land and reflects the people who inhabited the land in the early days in Tamaki Makaurau and then the chronology begins in the back of the house an comes forward and talks about many and varied subjects than include narratives, that include ancestry, that include whakapapa, histories that are relevant to this area,” Mr Grant says.

Another opening will be held later this morning.


Maori are being asked to balance traditional beliefs about the tapu of the body with the welfare of their loved ones.

Kelvin Lynn from Kidney Health New Zealand says a shortage of number of organ donors is putting many Maori lives at risk, because Maori have a higher chance of kidney disease.

Live donations can raise cultural issues, and the number of organs donated after death has been falling because of a reduction in fatal motor accidents.

Dr Lynn says going on donor registers can be difficult decision for Maori.

“Many Maori people have friends or relatives they know have got kidney disease and they want to help them and people consider being a kidney donor and sometimes that raises issues with them in terms of their cultural beliefs and spiritual beliefs. In that situation people from any society need to look at their values as to what is more important, the welfare of their loves ones or the sanctity of their bodies, and they are not easy decisions,” Dr Lynn says.

Maori communities need to talk about the issue and hear from Maori donors or organ recipients.


The Far North District Council is seeking the views of Maori on a proposal for radical restructure of local government in Te Taitokerau.

Iwi liaison officer Te Wihongi says the change could improve representation of Maori, who make up a large percentage of the region's population.

Options being considered include Maori wards on the Far North Council or bringing the region's three district councils and its regional council into a unitary authority, similar to that on the East Coast, which has a similar population mix.

Mr Wihongi says feedback from the first hui at the Ngapuhi Runanga in Kaikohe shows Maori are interested in the proposals.

“If there is general support in that area, the question arises where does Maori fit in to such a process. In terms of unity under one roof is you like, Maori see that as a plus and certainly in their favour,” Mr Wihongi says.


The head of Te Runanga o Moeraki is confident a proposed cement plant in North Otago won't affect nearby Maori rock art.
Environment Court is hearing appeals against Holcim New Zealand's $400 million dollar plant in Weston this week.
Koa Mantell says her runanga is negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Holcim to ensure tapu mahinga kai sites and traditional art are safe.

“We've been concerned about what effect would that have on rock art around. However, they have been able to assure us that they have put a lot of care and concern into the preparation of their project, that it will not have any effect on the rock art,” she says.

Ms Mantell says opponents of the project like the Waiareka Valley Preservation Society are claiming to speak on behalf of tangata whenua, but only the runanga represents Ngai Tahu interests in the area.


A Maori mental health advocate is wants whanau to choose carefully the words they use for people with mental illness.

Philleen McDonald spoke to the Like Minds, Like Mine national hui in Auckland yesterday on the discrimination and stigma she experienced as a tangata whaiora.

She now runs a consultancy specialising in anti-discrimination work and Maori mental health workforce development.

Ms McDonald says while the mainstream is now more positive about accepting a cultural dimension to Maori mental health, some changes need to be made in her own culture.

“There are kupu or words out there that have become derogatory. They didn’t start out that way. Words like porangi and wairangi are used flippantly to describe people who are crazy or mad when in fact those kupu don't mean that,” she says.

Ms McDonald says education about mental health needs to start in Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori to ensure positive attitudes towards tangata whaiora.


Five years in the making, one of Aotearoa's largest art works has been unveiled this morning.

It's Ngakau Mahaki, the meeting house at Auckland polytechnic Unitec's new marae.
Master carver Lyonel Grant has gone back to old construction methods, so the carvings are structural elements rather then being just added to a pre-built shell.

He says the wood for the carvings came out of the Minginui Forest in early 2003, and a small team has been working on it ever since.

“The optimum would have been to have a carving class based at Unitec that drags people in and brings them on but in fact the level we’re trying to operate on with this marae is not a classroom, it’s pitched at being the very best it can be, not that students can’t do that, but to operate that way I’ll need 10 years, 15 years, 20 years,” he says.

Lyonel Grant has also built wharenui in Tokoroa and at Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Energy best spent undermining prisons

A prominent Maori clergyman has given the thumbs down to Maori running prisons.

The Maori Party is backing the Government's plans to offer prison management contracts to private sector operators, because it says the policy creates opportunities to introduce kaupapa Maori into the prison system.

But Hone Kaa, who heads a trust aimed at reducing violence in Maori homes, says Maori should be trying to pull prisons down rather than build them up.

“Prisons are dehumanizing institutions and whoever takes on the contract has to work according to Corrections Department regulations. We can intervene at all different points and I’d sooner we put energy into that than putting energy into saying ‘let’s manage the prisons’. That’s an admission of defeat,” Dr Kaa says.


It's World Kidney Day, and Maori are being urged to act on a silent disease which could be lurking in their bodies.

Kelvin Lynn, Kidney Health New Zealand's medical director, says high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure mean Maori are more at risk of developing severe kidney disease.

Lifestyle changes, regular excercise and stopping smoking can reduce the risk.

Professor Lynn says because chronic kidney disease is silent, it's important Maori get screened before their condition gets so bad they need dialysis.

Kidney Health New Zealand screened for kidney disease at parliament in Wellington today to raise awareness.


A corner of Unitec is a hive of activity this evening as a new whare is readied to open tomorrow.

The Auckland polytechnic is one of the last major tertiary institutions to get a marae, and the project has taken master carver Lyonel Grant and his small team five years to complete.

Mr Grant says his decision to go back to 19th century design techniques and treat the carvings as structural elements created challenges for the builders.

“Despite the fact the carvings have names that suggest a function, they don’t actually perform that function. With this house, I was keen to return back to the thing when you say a poupou is a poupou, it is going to support the wall. The heke is going to carry the ceiling and so on. So just that alone had required a major shift in the way the industry works, because the industry is geared to a predetermined structure we put art into, so we are just making wallpaper,” Mr Grant says.

The carvings in the house tell the history of Tamaki Makaurua.


The Maori Party is crying foul over Labour's attempts to call Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples to account for his statements on the Foreshore and Seabed Act review.

In Parliament yesterday, Labour's Michael Cullen tried to ask about Dr Sharples quip that if the three member review panel failed to recommend major changes, they should be sacked and replaced.

He also says Dr Sharples is telling Maori there is a chance of full-scale ownership of the foreshore and seabed on a broad basis, despite the Court of Appeal finding this would only happen in rare cases.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says the questions were rightly ruled out because the Maori Affairs Minister does not have responsibility for the review.

"They then turned it around to make it look as if Pete was weak, National was undermining his authority as if they could. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience in the House yesterday but I expect we will see more of that because that’s usually a strategy in Labour to completely undermine people and try to portray people as not having a good grasp on their portfolio,” Mrs Turia says.


But Labour's Nanaia Mahuta says the Maori Party can't keep relying on the government for protection when it gets into trouble.

The Waikato-Hauraki MP says Pita Sharples's comment about sacking the Foreshore and Seabed review panel creates an impression the outcome is predetermined, which is not good for public confidence.

She says the Maori Party has sold its supporters a pipe dream about what is achievable even if the Act was changed.

“The foreshore and seabed legislation provides about three avenues for Maori to have their customary rights and interests recognised. The Maori Party really can’t say what of those processes they don’t agree with and in fact they want to scrap the bill and send everybody back to the Maori Land Court and very few iwi hapu groups will be able to claim an interest on the foreshore and seabed under that scenario, so they need to come clean with some of the things they are telling the general public,” Ms Mahuta says.


The Mental Health Foundation has acknowledged its Maori caucus for helping change New Zealanders' attitudes towards mental health.

A national seminar which started in Auckland today has brought together service providers for the Like Minds, Like Mine campaign to share experiences and build networks.

Chief executive Judi Clements says the foundation's Maori arm has gone from strength to strength over the decade-long campaign.

“From being not a prominent part of the programme, the Maori caucus is now at the heart of the programme and influencing the whole of the programme. There is going to be a Maori resources, a document specifically drawn up by and for and will be acted on by Maori, but again it will influence the whole of the programme,” she says.

Ms Clements says there are still major challenges to reduce stigma and discrimination for people with mental illness

Private prison plan seen as lifesaver

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says Maori can do a better job running prisons than the Corrections Department.

The Tai Tokerau MP says that's why the party is backing the government's plans to open prison management contracts up to private companies.

He says the department has a poor track record in dealing with Maori, despite Maori making up half the prison population.

Mr Harawira says private prisons should be seen as a chance for reform rather than a business opportunity for iwi.

“I'm doing this because our guys are killing one another in jail, because there’s no rehabilitation in jail, it’s purely punitive, and I want us to have the opportunity to turn our guys around ourselves. I know we can’t do worse than the bloody Corrections Department,” Mr Harawira says.

He says Maori-run prisons could instill kaupapa Maori values in inmates.


Chiefs captain Liam Messam is taking a hands on approach to keeping young Maori out of trouble.

He and fellow flanker Sione Lauaki have been taking time out of their Super 14 duties to help out at Hamilton's South Pacific Islands Institute.

The private training establishment's Kool IV Kids programme is aimed at rangatahi who have dropped out of school.

Mr Messam says growing up in Rotorua he saw how easy it was for young people to go off in the wrong direction, so he's happy to show them positive alternatives.


A teacher of Maori herbal remedies is picking up increased interest across the community in rongoa Maori.

Waikato University tutor Rob McGowan says New Zealand has a long history of traditional remedies, which is being celebrated during the current Herb Awareness Week.

Colonial settlers without access to doctors often benefited from remedies their Maori neighbours showed them in the bush.
He says rongoa never went away, but interest is definitely growing, with Maori coming back to look at rongoa.

Professional herbalists are also incorporating more New Zealand plants into their practice.

He says rongoa needs to be treated with respect, and people need to be aware that the healing characteristics of plants can change in different habitats around the country.


The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is calling for a collective effort by health workers to fight the high rates of Maori dying from respiratory illness.

Sunny Wikiriwhi, the manager of Maori services at the foundation, says Maori are dying from asthma and other respiratory illnesses at more than twice the rate of non-Maori.

She says upskilling health workers at a grassroots level could help address the disparities between Maori and non-Maori.

“This is not good enough, the stats in terms of our tamariki, in terms of hospitalization are well known. Our people are still dying from this disease and it shouldn’t be happening. So the korowai or challenge has been laid out to the DHBs and the Ministry of Health to address this issue and really make it a priority,” Ms Wikiriwhi says.

A hui next Wednesday at Orakei Marae in Auckland will bring together community health workers, nurses and other practitioners to raise awareness among Maori to risk factors such as smoking, poor housing and allergies.


Former Auckland Museum curator Maori Paul Tapsell has taken up a new challenge, breathing fresh life into Otago University's Te Tumu school of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies.

Professor Tapsell says the school has moved on from the turmoil of recent years which led to the departure of senior staff.

He says it has an exciting group of young academics who are open to debate and looking for direction.

Enrolments are up, but he sees challenges ahead in attracting Maori students, particularly in the shortage of hostel beds.

He says the completion rates for Maori who do get a hostel place are very high.

As well as heading Te Tumu in the deep south, Professor Tapsell and his wife Dr Merata Kawaru are continuing to oversee a major research project on the intergenerational transmission of language and culture in the far north.


The gift of a bromeliad years ago has turned into a successful business for Poppy Fuller from Ngati Kahungunu, Tuhoe, and Tuwharetoa.

After years of selling excess plants from her Kerikeri home, a year ago Ms Fuller launched Fullbert Bromeliads with help from Te Puni Kokiri's business facilitations service.

She and husband Allan employed two staff, built two large shade houses and have more than 30,000 bromeliads in stock.

She was not keen on the species when she got her first plant 25 years ago from her best friend Diane.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recession threat to race relations

The Race Relations Conciliator is warning against allowing the current recession to create the kind of racial disparities seen during the recession of the early 1990s.

Joris de Bres released his 2008 report this morning, saying the deepening economic crisis will affect not just employment and standard of living but other social conditions.

He says racial equality is one of the most important foundation stones for positive race relations.

“If we look back at what happened in 1992, unemployment rocketed up in the recession to almost 25 percent for Maori and 28 percent for Pacific peoples and it took a long time to get it back to the levels it was last year. We’re now in a situation where those numbers are likely to go op up again and I think what we need to do is be aware what a long term effect it had last time and try to mitigate the long term effects as well as the impact it had on those communities,” Mr de Bres says.

He says the developing relationship between the Crown and Maori also needs to be watched closely.


The Northland medical officer of health is calling on the community to do more to protect traditional kaimonana collection sites.

Jonathan Jarman says sewage, stormwater, septic tank and farm runoff all flow into the region's harbours every time it rains heavily, shutting down beaches and shellfish collection for up to a month at a time

More than 16 million litres of sewage overflowed into the Whangarei Harbour last week.

Dr Jarman says the community seems to struggle to respond appropriately.

“Do we pretend that there is no problem? Do we put up signs every 100 metres along our harbours every time we have heavy rain? It’s not a good look for tourists and what about the hundreds of Northlanders who love collecting shellfish for their families from places where people have collected shellfish for hundreds of years,” Dr Jarman says.

Iwi, district and regional councils, the health board, the department of conservation and community members needs to work together to overhaul current systems, which include old pipeworks and reticulation systems.


Waikato District Health Board's Te Puna Ora Maori health service is targeting one of the biggest killers of Maori men over 40.

The three-year Oranga Tane Maori project is looking at how the region's health providers treat Maori with an existing chronic disease or cancer.

Wayne Johnstone, the principal investigator, says it will interview the men and their whanau along with support, clinicians and service providers.

“Everyone should have a part to play in addressing these issues, not just the blame being laced on Maori or Maori men but the clinicians, the health practitioners all have a part to play in finding solutions or a way forward,” Mr Johnstone says.

Funding for the study came from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Maori knowledge and development fund.


The Green's Maori affairs spokesperson is warning that while the Government is conducting a high profile review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, it is removing by stealth the tools Maori need to defend their takutai moana.

Metiria Turei says Maori need to make submissions on amendments to the Resource Management Act now before a select committee.

She says the bill will take away the power of the Minister of Conservation to intervene in decisions about the coastal marine area.

“By taking away that power for the minister to act effectively as the landowner and to say no to a development, that power will instead rest really with regional councils so if the rules in their plans allow for high levels of development of the coastal marine area, then that’s what they will allow for and there will be no one at all who can stop that from happening,” Ms Turei says.

The changes will mean iwi and hapu can only object to development on narrow legal grounds, and not on substantial grounds such as the effect of pollution on their customary rights.


Opunake Maori have rejected the New Plymouth District Council's offer of a whale bone sculpture.

The work by landscape designer Kim Jarrett was originally commissioned for the 2006 Rhododendron Festival by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust , but was removed from the New Plymouth foreshore because the district council didn't want to pay for maintenance.

Mana whenua spokesperson Kerry Walsh says a hui at Orimupiko Marae spokesperson this week rejected the sculpture because it illustrates an East Coast legend of Tinirau and his pet whale Tutunui, which has no connection to Taranaki.

Debbie Ngarewa Packer, the deputy mayor of South Taranaki, says the idea got as far as it did because of flawed consultation.

“Council officers had engages with iwi liaison and I guess had discussions that they took as being on behalf of iwi but to be fair were actually on behalf of the individual, and that’s a classic example of how you need to make sure you have good strong relationships to be sure you’re abreast of what’s important to mana whenua,” Mrs Ngarewa Packer says.

The councils will keep working to find the sculpture a home.


Ngati Awa is upping its commitment to higher education with the launch of six scholarships for members who show a combination of academic excellence and engagement with hapu and iwi.

The eastern Bay of Plenty iwi runs a wananga in Whakatane, and also gives grants to registered beneficiaries studying elsewhere.

Leonie Simpson from Te Runanga o Ngati Awa says last year grants went to 223 tauira.

She says the new scholarships were developed because while Ngati Awa students were good at enrolling, too many were dropping out at second or third year level.

She says Ngati Awa is identifying areas they want to encourage more education in.

Applications for the tertiary grants and scholarships close on Friday.

Cracks showing in Ngai Tahu settlement

A former Ngai Tahu treaty negotiator says cracks are starting to show in the tribe’s management and operation of its $170 million dollar treaty settlement.

Rik Tau says Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu's (TRONT) decision to charge commercial fisherman to use Te Waihora, Lake Ellesmere, is in breach of the tribe’s 1998 Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

He says this is another example where the runanga appears to be showing a lack of sound judgment.

“It takes away the integrity not only of ourselves as negotiators but of the Crown. The commercial fishermen actually come under the quota management system which is the Ministry of Fisheries and the Fisheries Act, not under Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu,” Mr Tau says.

Ngai Tahu, the fishing Industry Board and the fisherman agreed on an eel management plan as part of treaty negotiations.

He says charging five eelers an 8 percent fee on the basis of Lake restoration is inappropriate as the fisherman are not responsible for the pollution.

Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon was unavailable for comment.


The head of the Federation of Maori Authorities says there is a risk of misplaced focus on the privatisation of prisons.

The government is considering opening prison management contracts to private companies.

Paul Morgan, chief executive of FOMA, says the current prison system represents a systemic failure of individuals and families, and more effort needs to go towards preventative strategies.

“People are suggesting it’s a business opportunity. Well sure it is but it’s one where we are spending society’s resources trying to fix a problem. The approach really should be more preventative strategies where people don’t actually go into prisons,” Mr Morgan says.

He says FOMA's focus is on individuals getting educated, being productive citizens and making positive contributions.


Maori writer Patricia Grace says she will not be taking up her entitled to be called Dame under changes to honours being introduced by the government.

Patricia Grace who holds the honour of Distiguished Commanion of the New Zealand Order of Merit says she sees the change back to titles as quite unnecessary.

“I thought it was a sep forward when we decided not to have the titles. I thought it was a step away from the colonial past and all those attachments and that we were working our way to having something more truly our own in Aotearoa so to me it wasn’t a forward step at all. It seemed like harping back to the past,” Mrs Grace says.

W hen she accepted the award she did so on behalf of alot of people who have supported her including family, hapu and iwi so she does not consider the honour is hers alone.


Former governor general Paul Reeves, who has tried to bridge the gap between Fiji and Commonwealth and Pacific leaders putting pressure on the island nation to hold elections, says democracy may not be the answer.

Sir Paul, the co-architect of Fiji's current constitution, has meet Fiji's military strongman Commodore Vorege Bainimarama several times attempting to resolve the impasse.

He says western style democracy may not always be the answer to everything.

“It may well not be and I think if we look around the world we would have to say that many countries which were open to British influence and the British left behind their patterns of democracy and ruling themselves, they have always struggled with that because there are these inherited issues as well as the whole question of an elected system,” Sir Paul says.

The Pacific Island Forum earlier this year voted unanimously to suspend Fiji and exclude it from all regional funding if it doesn't set an election date by May 1 and go to the polls by the end of the year.

Sir Paul says cutting relationships with Fiji won’t be helpful because the people need food, service and other help.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the Government's reopening of the Seabad and Foreshore debate has the potential to be extremely divisive.

He says the Seabed and Foreshore Act should be left as it is.

Mr Goff says under the Act which the Government is reviewing Maori and Pakeha have fundamental access to the beaches and treaty settlements are acknowledging customary rights more than ever.

“What we've got now is we’re evolving towards a position that is not divisive, can work for all New Zealanders, can acknowledge customary rights and can settle the issue down. I don’t think National is necessarily committed to any particular outcome form this review, you know to repeal the Act, in which case it may end up with a lot of frustration and further divisiveness. Why don’t we work on what we’ve got at the moment, work through those treaty settlements, and resolve it in that way,” Mr Goff says.


An exhibition commemorating the World War One sacrifice of New Zealand soldiers, including the Maori Pioneer battalion, on Flanders fields will begin its New Zealand tour in Wellington in early March.

National War Memorial curator Paul Riley says the exhibition developed by the Memorial Museum Passchendaele aims to bring the devastating battles for the Western Front back into the national conscience.

“What it’s about is New Zealand’s involvement in the terrible battle of Passchendaele when the New Zealand Division was ordered to attack the German line on basically what was a suicide mission. It was an impossible task for the New Zealanders to achieve. They had to plough through waist deep mud through this field to attempt to attack the German lines up ion this ridge called Bellevue Spur and it was just crazy. They were sitting ducks. It was just slaughter,” Mr Riley says.

In four hours on October 12, 1917, New Zealand forces suffered 2700 casualties, including 845 fatalities.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maori Party backs prison privatisation

The Maori Party says it is supporting the privatisation of prisons, not for any potential monetary gains, but for the Maori currently overpopulating the jails.

Hone Harawira says allowing Maori organisations to run their own prisons and instilling Kaupapa Maori values would mean fewer Maori stuck in a cycle of crime.

He says he cares nothing for the profit to be gained by the Maori businesses.

“We are ready to step up to the plate and say ‘give us a shot, we can’t do worse than the last guys, and we think we can do a hell of a lot better,’ so if anyone has any twisted notion in their mind that the Maori Party is doing this top generator for Maori businesses, they are dead wrong. We are doing this because our people are dying in prisons and we want to stop that from happening,” Mr Harawira says.


A former Ngai Tahu Treaty negotiator says the tribe has no right to charge commercial fisherman to use Te Waihora, Lake Ellesmere.

Rik Tau says Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu's decision to charge five eelers shows a lack of integrity for their 1998 Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Mr Tau says the fisherman are protected under the quota management system and for the runanga to charge an 8 percent fee on the basis of lake restoration is simply a revenue gathering front.

“I think it’s the pursuit of cash Maoris wanting money. The damage to Lake Ellesmere, I have no problem if they are looking at improving the quality of the lake, the lake bed, the water in Lake Ellesmere but it does not fall on the fisherman,” Mr Tau says.

He says Ngai Tahu, the Fishing Industry Board and the fisherman agreed on an eel management plan as part of treaty negotiations.

He says the fisherman are about preservation and are not responsible for polluting the lake.

Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon was unavailable for comment.


A rongoa Maori expert is encouraging New Zealanders to use traditional Maori plants for their ailments.

It’s Herb Awareness Week, and ethno-botanist Rob McGowan, from Nga Whenua Rahui, says most of the herbs used by professional herbalists are derived from plants that come from other countries.

He says native plants like Kumarahou, kawakawa and Karamu are superior to many and should be used more.

Rob McGowan's book Rongoa Maori, due to be published in the next two months, explores traditional ways of staying healthy in a modern world.


The Maori Party says that for proof that kaupapa Maori works for Maori - look no further than the example set by kura kaupapa.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira says offering prison management contracts to private companies could see Maori run prisons where kaupapa Maori was the focus.

He says using Maori aspirations, values and principles would help rehabilitate Maori inmates, who make up a large percentage of the jails in this country.

Mr Harawira says the Maori immersion schools introduced in New Zealand over 20 years ago were a classic example.

“The history of Maori in mainstream schools is almost as bad as the history of Maori in mainstream jails. Now if kaupapa Maori can work for our people in schools, kaupapa Maori can certainly work for our whanaunga in prisons and they can work for our whanaunga in a whole lot of other places. I just think that if we use kaupapa Maori, we won’t be just taking a positive step away from mainstream, we will be taking a positive step towards the future,” Mr Harawira says.

He says the Maori focused units currently operating in prison facilities around the country are a step in the right direction.


However Maori businesses may not be equipped to run their own prisons, according to the head of the Federation of Maori Authorities.

Paul Morgan, the chief executive of FOMA, says while some Maori organisations see that as a business opportunity, its not something that FOMA is focusing on.

He says Maori businesses are currently not prepared to provide that sort of service.

“There’s a lot of expertise in Maori, particularly in the last 20 years, where they are service providers in health, education, social welfare systems but to actually own and run a prison requires obviously substantial expertise, particularly systems, to do that, and I don’t think we are in a position to do that at this point in time,” Mr Morgan says.


Labour leader Phil Goff has lent his support to wananga being given the opportunity to educate Maori as young as 14 years of age.

Maori leader Dr Ngatata Love has suggested the move as a radical way of addressing Maori youth problems and the Wananga o Aotearoa has said it is ready to step up to the mark if the government allows it to provide courses for rangatahi.

“I think if the wananga can point to a proven record of working with those that are selling second chance education and having a good success rate then that’s a way we can go.

“We’re facing a situation now where maybe a thousand jobs a week are being lost in New Zealand. The first people to be hurt by that process are those with the least level of skills and the least level of education. They are the most vulnerable, and many Maori are amongst them,” Mr Goff says.

Her says the recession must be used as an opportunity to give people skills and doing so for Maori is particularly important as their educational attainment levels are lower.

Maori slow to get AIDs testing

An updated ethnicity report on HIV has raised concern that awareness among Maori is not high enough.

Marama Pala, kaiwhakahaere of INA - the Maori, indigenous and South Pacific HIV/AIDS Foundation, says an update of the Ministry of Health's 2008 AIDS epidemiology data, shows an increase in infections generally, with the high incidence among Maori women and children being particularly concerning.

She says Maori Women are the most likely group to catch HIV in New Zealand and this is being passed onto children.

While other groups of the population have overall higher incidence of HIV most of these people are being affected overseas.

And she says there is deep concern that Maori with Aids are not getting help until it becomes full blown AIDS.

“Forty point six percent of late testers or people not testing until the last moment are Maori and 28.6 percent are Pacific and that’s really a concern for us because it shows that the testing availability or access or knowledge or education about HIV and illnesses is not getting to our people,” Ms Pala says.

Recommendations are being made to review the National Strategy to address the lack of funding for HIV surveillance for Maori.


The National Library of New Zealand is helping Maori retrace their roots.

The library is focusing on Whakapapa as part of its Family History Month, alongside the New Zealand Society of Genealogists which is helping to unravel family stories.

Celia Joe, hononga Maori at the National Library of New Zealand, says exploring heritage was a vital link in defining a person’s identity.

She says often Maori whanau found it difficult to link back to their ancestors due to the introduction of surnames in the early 1900's.

“Up until the government made it compulsory to have a surname you were known as ‘Rangi, son of Petera from wherever you were from’ so when it became time to get a surname, some people took their father’s or their grandather’s first name. Some took his second name. And some whanau members made an new entirely different name,” Ms Joe says.

The programme of events celebrating Family History Month includes guest speakers, displays, workshops, advice and tours of the National Library and other Wellington repositories.


The hunt for budding Maori writers is on again as part of the Pikihuia Awards.

The biannual competition organised by the Maori Literature Trust and Huia Publishers, is in its fourteenth year.

Chair Robyn Bargh says many past winners have gone on to be successful writers and says its free entry makes it a great platform for new Maori writers.

“It’s a big step between sitting at home writing a story and then putting iut out for the public to read and laugh at and enjoy and then from there to actually writing a whole book that you have actually written yourself and therefore being able to say ‘I am a writer,” Mrs Bargh says.

Nga Pakiwaitara a Huia, the short stories section, gets the most entries, with the other categories being best novel extract (up to 5,000 words), best short film script and best short story in English or Maori by a secondary school student.


A powerful runanga leader within Ngai Tahu has come out publicly against the continued leadership of Ngai Tahu by chairman Mark Solomon.

Tahu Potiki was chief executive of the Ngai Tahu Runanga until he fell out with Mr Solomon.

He now leads the Otakou Runanga.

He says Mr Solomon's leadership is not the way forward for the iwi.

“There's been suggestion of a new governance direction which is being touted as a top down model which could lead to all the business decisions and business directions being set by the political body, who aren’t actually geared up to make those sorts of decisions, so the leadership who are taking us in that direction need to be challenged, absolutely,” Mr Potiki says.

He says the lessons from the United States are clear that there should be clear separation between governance and management roles but under Mark Solomon's leadership of Ngai Tahu this has not been the case.

The leadership issue has come to a head with the recent sacking of the business arm's chief executive Wally Stone and the decison to continue planning the $50 million cultural and office centre Ngai Tahu House in Christchurch.


An innovative joint venture Maori trade training initiative involving Tainui, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, and Wintec was launched in Hamilton yesterday.

Wananga chief executive Bentham Ohia says the building and carpentry course with 16 students has taken more than a year to develop.

Classes start tomorrow.

“Ultimately we'd like to increase the numbers over time here in the Waikato so we can support business and the building and construction industry here in terms of labour shortages in the future,” Mr Ohia says.

He says the recession is an ideal time for job trading to prepare for an economic up turn and the joint venture leveraging the skills and resource of the participant groups is the way to do this.


Maori singer and performer Tina Cross is happy that the school that helped her launch her career has named a new music studio after her.

She says Penrose High School which will re-open as one Tree Hill College on Friday had a brilliant music department which led her to bus there from her home in Otara every day.

“School productions were big then. There was a lot of not just singing, there was acting and a bit of movement in drama. It’s big in schools now but it wasn’t that big then so I was really fortunate and once the school band formed we auditioned for television shows and back in the 70s they were huge and any foot in the door if you were a young talent and wanted to maybe get a break on television, the vehicles were there,” Ms Cross says.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Harawira whipping interest in Foreshore Act review

Northland hosted the first of several consultation hui for the review of the foreshore and seabed act today.

Maori Party MP from Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, who is leading this round of hui says the Maori party campaigned on repealing the act and are committed to getting the best deal for Maori.

He says the hui will enable Maori to have their say and to understand what the Act means.

“Does it enhance mana whenua. Does it provide for customary rights? Does it provide for public interest? And if you are picking no to all the above, then what are we going to do about it? And if it’s get rid of this Act, are we happy with what we had before, and if we’re not happy with what we had before, what is it we want now?” Mr Harawira says.

He will be holding hui throughout Northland and Tamaki Makaurau with plans to continue around the motu.


A first aid course designed for vision and hearing impaired Maori participants started in Tamaki Makaurau today.

The pilot course was set up by St John and the Maori national body for blind, Ngati Kapo o Aotearoa.

Course instructor Morty Mortinson says Ngati Kapo came up with the idea and St John hopes to officially launch the course in July. He says the challenges to teach first aid to the blind are no different to teaching the sighted.

“Accidents can happen anywhere anytime, and just because a person is blind doesn’t mean they can’t help someone in need when they are injured or sick,” Mr Mortinson says.

The one-day course covers scene assessment, safety, basic life support (CPR), bleeding, shock and burns.


Ngati Whatua o Orakei is cleaning up their rohe.

The iwi used a zero rubbish strategy at its Waitangi Day Festival at Okahu Bay this year, recycling or composting 90 percent of the total waste stream.

Ngarimu Blair, the tribe’s heritage manager, says their marae and wharekai now operate worm farms, composting and recycling systems to take care of waste and in time hope to extend their strategy across the papakainga.

“We really put the onus back on the individual, walking around, talking to whanau, and giving them a bag to say hey, please take your rubbish home with you and sort it out as you would normally. We have teams of volunteers who are working for nothing but the love of the whenua and when peole see they are passionate dedicated b that they get inspired by that or they get whakamaa over that, and with way, the pick up the rubbish themselves,”
Ngati Whatua o Orakei will promoting its zero-waste strategy at the tangata whenua village at Pasifika next Saturday in the hope that organisers of other events follow suit.


Former governor general Sir Paul Reeves says he's surprised by the Prime Minister's decision to reinstate knighthoods.

Sir Paul says although he has a title, he thought Aotearoa was getting used to not having them.

He says back dating the system may also create all sorts of controversy as eligible Maori like Ngatata Love may not want to put themselves forward for it.

Sir Paul says having the honour given to you is quite different to choosing to take the title.

“There’s nothing wrong with having an honour. It’s the title as such we are talking about. I am aware that in the latter years of the former National government they played around with all sorts of variations of titles but Labour seem to have got it right and so be it but we’ll just have to watch and see where this one goes,” Sir Reeves says.

Dr Ngatata Love says he has not been contacted and is unsure whether he would assume the title of Sir.


Te Wananga O Aotearoa wants to provide educational opportunities to Maori school leavers as young as 14.

Responding to a call at the weekend by Professor Ngatata Love of Victoria University's managament school for the government to "think Radically" about Maori education and consider wanagna taking students as young as 14.

Chief executive Bentham Ohia says although the wananga is an adult learning institute the scope to provide for Maori rangatahi is there.

Mr Ohia says following a meeting with Education Minister Ann Tolley last week to discuss providing services for the new youth guarantees scheme for 16 and 17 year olds, the wananga came up with the idea of offering courses to a younger age group.

“Our own meeting sort of identified the need that 16, 17, some of our people may be a bit past it by then and there is a need for us to work in the system to engage our rangatahi at an earlier age,” Mr Ohia says.

He says the wananga will engage with other Maori private training establishments, whanau and the community to establish a strategy for this provision.


Maori women entering the workforce are looking good, thanks to a charity helping low-income women by providing interview-appropriate clothes.

Sue Lewis-O'Halloran, the executive manager of Dress for Success, says clients, over half of which are Maori, are referred by organisations such as Work and Income and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

“Sometimes it’s women who have been out of the workforce for a long time raising their children. Often it’s women whose husbands have left them and they’re suddenly having to go back into the workforce to pay their mortgage and feed their children. We don’t know what to expect when people walk in the door and we never have an expectation, only that we’re here to help women who need our support,” Mrs Lewis-O'Halloran says.

She says Maori women are often most vulnerable when redundancies are made as they take part-time shift work to raise families.

Dress for Success has five affiliates nationwide and is preparing for its annual Celebrity Waiters Dinner on May 15.

Whakarewarewa trimmed for slow-down

Showpiece Maori tourism ventures in Whakarewarewa have had to drastically scale back to cope with a decline in tourist numbers.

Willie Te Aho, the chair of the Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust, says the trust has cut staff by a third to 20 people over the past year through attrition and redundancies.

Those cut includes maintenance, administration, and some guiding positions.
He says a 15 percent drop nationally in inbound visitor numbers is hitting the tourism heartland.

“We've just gone through what they consider the peak season which runs from November through to March so the suck it and see period is going to be the next six months as we go into the off peak season. We are optimistic the changes we have made and the current arrangements we have are enough to see us through the off peak season and we will be facing a financial loss. It won’t be a sizeable one but it will be a loss,” Mr Te Aho says.

One bright spot on the horizon is the planned return of Crown land in the thermal valley to a trust representing Ngati Wahiao, Tuhourangi and Ngati Whakaue, which should allow consolidation and rationalisation of the area's Maori tourism ventures.


Meanwhile, Butch Bradley, the chair of Wellington Maori tourism body Te Ara A Maui, says Maori operators need to keep focused on the personal touch.

Mr Bradley says tourism is about more than landscapes and physical attractions.

He says the international visibility of aspects of Maori culture like ta moko and the haka mean visitors are keen to get off the tour bus and meet people kanohi ki te kanohi.

“So when people come here it’s not just about geysers and kayaks and bunjy jumping. They want to meet the locals. Many of our tourists are coming from European countries that have strong cultural backgrounds. They want to hear the New Zealand story, and then they want to hear the Maori story. They get culture. They want to hear about our culture,” Mr Bradley says.

Te Ara O Maui’s new in-flight video for Air New Zealand on Te Upoko o Te Ika, the bottom of the North Island, should whet the appetites of incoming tourists.


Atamira Dance Collective is taking on the challenge of moving to the sound of traditional instruments.

Choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant says taonga puoro master Richard Nunns is supplying the music for her new work, Taonga: Dust, Water and Wind, which opens this week as past of the Auckland Festival.

The dancers in the nine-year-old Maori company will also play.

“Just by learning about the instruments and listening to Richard talk and dancing to them really changes the way we work and it’s really inspired some of the movement, just listening to the instruments and how that makes you move, so it’s been a really lovely process combining the two disciplines I guess,” Ms Potiki Bryant says,

Her inspiration for the piece was the myth of Rona and the Moon, mixed with childhood memories of her aunt.


School principal turned Labour list MP Kelvin Davis is welcoming a proposal to let wananga take over the schooling of Maori students who are falling through the cracks in mainstream high schools.

The idea was raised at a Hui Taumata symposium in Wellington on Friday.

Hui chair Dr Ngatata Love said radical thinking was needed on Maori education including letting students as young as fourteen opt out of mainstream.

Mr Davis, who won praise for his management of the predominantly Maori Kaitaia Intermediate says it’s the kind of idea that needs to be explored.

“We need to look at as many ways as possible of making sure our kids moved on to tertiary and higher education and if there are barriers at secondary level for that to happen, I think we need to explore all the possibilities,” Mr Davis says.


A tattooed Ngapuhi kaumatua says Wanganui’s anti-gang insignia bill will lead to anti-Maori prejudice.

Wanganui MP Chester Borrow’s bill last week passed its second reading, and looks set to pass once it is through the committee stage.

ACT MP David Garrett, who is trying to get his own three strikes bill through the House, says intimidating tattoos will be covered by the Wanganui law.

But Kingi Taurua, who wears a full face moko, says there have been several incidents in recent years where people have been refused entry to pubs and clubs because staff claimed their moko could intimidate other patrons.

He says the law will create problems discerning between ta moko and gang tats.

“Our moko has been handed down from the ages and I’m really surprised at this attitude in this time and age,” Mr Taurua says.

He says it should be seen as positive that more people are choosing to wear culturally inspired body art.


We’ve had politicians boosting their careers through appearances on Dancing with the Stars.

Now we’ve got contestants thinking about their own careers in politics.

TV One Breakfast Show weather presenter Tamati Coffey from Te Arawa says he’s been practicing hard for the current series, which moves into the elimination rounds this week.

He says a win might give him the profile needed for a career switch that would make use of his Bachelor’s degree in political science.

“I even did some essays about the viability of a Maori Party so it’s funny that after I left university the Maori Party came out in full force and here they are today at the decision making table in Parliament, so I think it’s an awesome thing,” Mr Coffey says.