Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, June 26, 2009

House collapse kills two at Manurewa Marae

There's shock and sadness at Manurewa Marae in south Auckland, where a house being moved on for use as a health clinic collapsed, killing two people and putting two others in hospital with serious injuries.

Meanwhile, the opening of another marae-based health clinic will go ahead tomorrow morning in Port Waikato despite the tragedy in Manurewa.

Tony Kake, the programme manager for Counties Manukau Health's Kahui Ora Maori health team, says the whare oranga is one of four the district health board intended to launch this year.

It's a joint venture between the DHB, Oraeroa Marae, Huakina Trust and south Auckland public health organisation Procare network.

Mr Kake says the clinic will offer podiatry, smoking cessation, nutrition and exercise programmes and other services determined by community needs.

“Whare oranga aims to provide the right health services at the right place and at the right time and for Maori, we’re trying to build up this whole healthy lifestyle buzz around marae. We intrinsically understand the protocols involved with whare kai, whare tupuna, so we want whare oranga to automatically roll off with a similar vein of respect,” he says.

Mr Kake says further whare oranga will be opened later in the year at Pukekohe, Mangatangi Marae near Kaiaua and Manurewa.


Tamaki Makaurau MP Pita Sharples is shaping for an uphill battle with Rodney Hide to get Maori seats on the Auckland super-city council.

Dr Sharples says he objected at yesterday's super city Cabinet Committee meeting to the way the Minister for Local Government was pre-empting what was supposed to be a joint report on options for Maori representation.

He says Mr Hide has moved to put processes in place which would ensure no Maori at the top table.

The Maori Party has proposed a way to get two elected Maori seats.

“We're sort of playing the democratic game if you like but he’s pretty adamant on his lines so it’s become very political now so I guess the right wing National supporters will probably support him and that’s why the Government probably will have to support him too. I mean that’s my reading of it, the way it's going,” Dr Sharples says.

The joint report will be delayed, so there is still a chance to put pressure on Rodney Hide and Prime minister John Key over Maori seats.


A promising opera singer will be the toast of Whangarei tonight.

A black tie mayoral benefit concert is being held to send 18 year old Kawiti Waetford to study and perform at London's Globe Theatre.

Mr Waetford, from Ngati Hine, Ngati Wai, and Nga Puhi, says the tour is an annual event for New Zealand's Young Shakespeare Company.

He sees it as a step towards a professional opera career.

Ngati Hine will rise before dawn tomorrow to open a new kitchen and dining hall for Motutau Marae near Kawakawa.

Whanau member Pene Henare says the $2 million project, which includes a new ablution block, has taken six years.

He says the wharekai is named after Mihiwira Tipene, who played an important role getting the marae built in the 1920s to serve as a place to host guests of the Northern Maori MP of the time, Tau Henare.

Guests at the opening include Tuwharetoa chief Tumu Te Heu Heu, who was welcomed onto the marae this afternoon.


Maori fashion designers will tomorrow vie for entry to the New Zealand Fashion week in September.

The catwalk spot is the top prize of the Maori Fashion Awards being held at Massey University's Wellington campus in Buckle St.

Project manager Ata Te Kanawa from Ngati Maniapoto says Fashion Week founder Pieter Stewart will head the judging panel, alongside Georgina Te Heu Heu, Kyla Russell, Simon Wi Rutene and Liz Mellish.

The competition is for design concepts rather than complete collections.

Ms Te Kanawa says all the 20 designers are showing good commercial potential

Bradford challenge on jobless stats

The Green's industrial relations spokesperson says the Government isn't doing enough to tackle unemployment on Maori communities.

Employment Minister Paula Bennett has told Parliament's social services select committee more than 15 thousand Maori were on the unemployment benefit to the end of May, and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research says a further 60 thousand people will lose their jobs over the next 12 months.

Sue Bradford, who was a leader in the unemployed rights movement that sprang up during the 1980s, says the government hasn't learned the lessons of the last major recession, including the fact disproportionately high numbers of Maori can be expected on the dole queues.

“We still have a lot of people affected by the fact they were unemployed or their parents were unemployed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, in that huge era of unemployment, and a lot of families in places like Rotorua and South Auckland and Taitokerau and Te Tairawhiti are still impacted by what happened back then, so this new unemployment is coming in over the top of that,” Ms Bradford says.

She says the government should invest in job creation areas such as planting riversides, building more state houses, and supporting recycling and energy efficiency.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is welcoming Waitakere City's decision to champion Maori representation.

The council this week agreed unanimously to include support for Maori seats in its submission on the Auckland super-city council, and to follow up by advocating through local government New Zealand that all councils create places for maori members.

Mrs Turia says Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey is showing the same sense of inclusiveness towards Maori he displayed when he was president of the Labour Party.

“Bob has been a mayor for some time. He’s looking to the future of this country. The Maori population is growing, as is Pacific, as is Asian. Councils should be reflective of that, and I’m really proud of him and his council,” Mrs Turia says.

She says the sky didn't fall down when Labour included Maori representatives on all district health boards, and all councils would benefit from Maori input.


A long time member of the New Zealand hockey squad says the national Maori team is a pathway to higher honours, but it needs more games.

David Kosoof from Ngati Porou has represented New Zealand at two Olympics and one Commonwealth games.
He says the Maori squad has a strong cultural focus, but it doesn't often get the competition players need to hone their skills for international play.

David Kosoof last night was acknowledged as one of New Zealand's one thousand Olympians at a ceremony at North Harbour stadium marking the centenary of the Olympic Movement.


The deputy chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana says an indigenous perspective could offer a way out of the bitter battles over whaling.

Ngahiwi Tomoana from Ngati Kahungunu yesterday addressed the World Whaling Commission meeting in Madiera, Portugal, an almost unprecedented honour for a non-government representative.

The commission has been divided by Japan's demands for whaling to continue under the guise of science or, in the case of its coastal waters, from tradition.

Mr Tomoana says Te Ohu Kaimoana supports indigenous and coastal whaling peoples throughout the world to continue their traditional and cultural practices of hunting whales for food.

He says that offers a middle way.

“You've got the these zealot conservationists and environmentalists just say absolutely no and you’ve got hard heads on the whaling side say absolutely yes and indigenous are caught in the middle trapped between western culture saying yes no. Indigenous people have never exploited or devastated the whaling stocks,” Mr Tomoana says.

He says if Japan was allowed to whale in its own coastal waters, the pressure could come off southern ocean whale populations.


An Historic Places Trust archaeologist says it's still too early to make conclusions about human remains uncovered during earthworks for Auckland Airport runway extensions.

A newspaper report based on a document obtained under the Official information Act said the 85 sets of koiwi reveal the people would have been generally healthy, with extremely worn teeth the most common ailment.

Bev Parslow says it was only an interim report, and the archaeologists aren't even sure yet about the age of the pre-European remains.

She says says the archaeologists need to consult with the Pukaki and Makaurau Marae communities before finalising their report.


A Ngati Kahungunu 15-year-old is making the leap from kura kaupapa to Yale.

Nga Rauira Puumanawawhiti is attending a six week summer session at the top United States university where he will study politics, philosophy and international relations.

Nga Rauira is doing NCEA level three at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, and he's also in the third year of a Bachelor of Maori Development at Te Whare Wananga O Raukawa.

This month he won the regional He Manu Korero speech competition, and he's also fluent in French and Japanese.

Nga Rauira hopes to one day study full time at Yale.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whanau need role in prisoner rehab

The head of prisoner support group Rethinking Crime and Punishment is endorsing a call for more whanau involvement in prisoner rehabilitation.

A report done for Associate Corrections Minister Pita Sharples on the performance of Maori Focus Units in prisons found the rate of reoffending by participants in Maori therapeutic programmes is 7 percent lower than for other prisoners.

It recommended changes in the way inmates are selected for the units, and in how they are released into the community.

Kim Workman, a former Corrections Service manager, says while the units give inmates greater knowledge of tikanga Maori and strengthens their cultural identity, what matters long term is how the inmate reconnects with family and iwi.

“It relies for its success on the ability of whanau to support prisoners once they leave the prison, to help them with employment, to help them with continuing rehabilitation needs they have around drugs and alcohol and anger and those things, to also address the offender as part of a whanau rather than as an individual,” Mr Workman says.


Three leaders of the revival of te reo Maori will tonight be honoured for their contributions.

King Tuheitia will present He Kura Waka awards to Wharehuia Milroy, Timoti Karetu and Pou Temara during the opening event of the Te Toi Roa language conference in Hamilton.

Bentham Ohia from Te Wananga o Aotearoa, which is hosting the conference, says for the past six years the three have run the wanaga's Te Panekiretanga i Te Maori Institute, which tries to take fluent speakers to a higher level of expertise.

He says their experience and skill was incalculable.

“Just that openness to sharing that knowledge with the younger ones coming through, who love the programme, they eat it up they’re supposed to be on the programme for one year but they keep coming back just to be fed by the wisdom of the well at Te Panekiretanga the three pou provide as part of their kaupapa," Mr Ohia says.

The aim of the conference is to determine how the Maori language can create insights into water management.


A Ngati Porou hockey player will tonight relive memories of representing New Zealand at the Olympics.

David Kosoof will join more than 100 Olympians at North Harbour Stadium to be recognised for their contributions to the Olympic movement, which is celebrating its centenary with similar events around the world.

The 31 year old played at the Manchester Commonwealth games and both the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

He says it was an honour to be a part of New Zealand’s Olympic history.

Kosoof is still playing, and is a member of the national Maori squad.


The deputy chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana has called for the International Whaling Commission to allow coastal whaling by indigenous communities.

Ngahiwi Tomoana from Ngati Kahungunu spoke today at the commission's meeting in Madiera, Portugal, which is considering Japan's demands it be allowed to restart coastal whaling.

While Mr Tomoana did not mention Japan by name in his speech, he says the Maori fisheries trust supports the right of indigenous and coastal peoples to continue their traditional and cultural practices of hunting whales for food.

“Now the compromise is that if the Japanese coastal villages are allowed to whale again they wouldn’t come down here after the Antarctic whale and our proposal, or the proposal of a lot of countries, is allow the Japanese to do coastal whaling and they will cut back Antarctic whaling,” Mr Tomoana says.

In Aotearoa, Te Ohu Kaimona want the recognition of the right of hapu to all beached whales, including the right to eat the meat.


Waitakere City intends to champion Maori seats for all the country's councils.

The position was taken at last night's full council meeting during discussion on what should be in the council's submission to the select committee considering governance of the Auckland super-city.

Mayor Bob Harvey says while it took some persuasion, he's proud of his councilors.

“The line was very good in the recommendations. It said hey, let’s not stop here. Everyone has to be part of this. And so once you light that kind of fire I guess it takes off and away it goes. So we’re going to take that to the Local Government New Zealand conference, we’ll be the advocates for the process to take place right across New Zealand, end of story,” Mr Harvey says.

He says supporting Maori representation was the only decision a 21st century council could go with.


Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is skeptical about Waitakere's new found enthusiasm for Maori representation.

John Key says there are provisions in the local Government Act for councils to hold referendums on establishing Maori seats.

“These councils have had a long time to make these changes and have never done that. Nothing wrong with them proposing it now but for a long time they have resisted it right across Auckland and yet you had mayors on the North Shore and Waitakere and Manukau City all marching for Maori seats and yet ultimately had never done that in the years they had the opportunity to do it,” Mr Key says.

Developers told to get Maori input to plan rewrite

Developers of subdivision which would have dumped effluent on waahi tapu near the mouth of the Taieri River have been told to revised their plans in consultation with local iwi.

Te Runanga o Otakou and Taieri whanau told Clutha Distric Council's hearings panel that Duggan and Varney's 23-lot development was culturally inappropriate and would destroy bird habitats and block access over a headland during high tide.

The panel has given the applicants a month to provide altered plans which take into consideration the cultural importance of the area.

Kiri Fraser, a member of the Moturata Taieri whanau, says it's a good decision and protection and enhancement of cultural values was important to the whanau.


Stronger governance is being cited as the reason for improved productivity on Maori farms.

Kingi Smiler, the chair of the annual Maori farming awards, says all of this year's finalists had a clear separation between management and governance.

This year's Ahuwhenua Trophy was taken out by Pakarae Whangara B5, a 5600 hectare sheep and beef farm north of Gisborne.

Mr Smiler says the field days run by the finalists are getting the recipe for success out to Maori landowners.

Next year's awards will focus on the dairy sector.


Manurewa Marae could soon be awash with kai.

The Manukau Institute of Technology is using spare land at the marae to run a national certificate course in horticulture.

School head Dave Bradshaw says students will landscape the marae and build a sustainable vegetable garden.

He says there will be a return to the community, with surplus vegetables distributed to the whanau.

The course at Manurewa Marae begins next month.


A row over the future of Wellington's Pipitea Marae has resulted in an unexpected boost to the Port Nicholson Block settlement.

In order to hand back the Thorndon-based marae to Taranaki Whanui claimants, the Crown had to make a side deal with Ngati Poneke Maori Association, which had a perpetual lease over the property.

Supplementary estimates being debated in Parliament this week show the Crown is paying the association $1.7 million to change the lease.

Ngati Poneke negotiator Paul Morgan says a special general meeting of the kapa haka's predominantly elderly membership voted to put the money back into the new trust which will own and run the marae.

The trust includes equal representation from Ngati Poneke and the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.

“Taranaki Whanui who have been and are part of Ngati Poneke over nearly 80 years now have essentially formalized that relationship, they are recognised owners of the land and marae as well as respecting the tradition and history of Ngati Poneke Association, so a new future and they will have the resources available to look at the redevelopment of the marae into the future,” Mr Morgan says.

The marae is due to be passed over to the new trust on July the first.


A Ngai Tahu woman has found she can't grow snails fast enough to meet demand.

Raewynne Achten started Silver Trail Gourmet Snails after researching untapped business opportunities.

She grows the tiny delicacies on her property in Raukawa Valley near Hastings for supply to restaurants, and recently opened another farm in Onga Onga.

“We farm them in an open pasture method and we’re reliant on rain and the climatic conditions to make the food they’re eating good enough for them to grow on. That was a bit of a struggle this year so numbers were a bit limited but we had just enough snails to keep us going with the restaurants we had on board already, so that’s something we are looking at for next year,” Ms Achten says.

Snails which don't meet restaurant quality could be turned into a gourmet snail pate.


The dream of a Maori theatre for Auckland will be raised again at a Playmarket hui this weekend.

Organiser Steven Bradshaw says the Second Annual Matariki Playwrights Hui at Tatai Te Hono Marae in Grafton will bring together writers, actors and others who have supported the Maori theatrical renaissance.

He says Tamaki Makaurau is home to many established and younger Maori actors, but they have no collective forum where they can hone their craft.

“We've got the population here. I think we need a theatre company. There’s developmental things we can do with workshops, with hui, wananga, and take small steps at growing our art form,” Mr Bradshaw says.

Many Maori playwrights have left live theatre to write for the screen.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Payout resolves Pipitea Marae split

The Crown has paid $1.7 million to help resolve a dispute over a landmark Wellington marae that flared up during negotiations for the Port Nicholson Block settlement.

The payment was revealed in the supplementary estimates being debated in Parliament this week.

Negotiator Paul Morgan says the Crown accepted it could not hand over Pipitea Marae to Taranaki Whanui claimants without compensating Ngati Poneke Maori Association, which held a perpetual lease over the land and buildings near the Wellington stadium.

He says the dispute has brought the two groups closer together, with a special meeting of Ngati Poneke agreeing to joint management.

“Members supported the new initiative which is a jointly managed charitable trust which will hold the assets of Pipitea Mare, that’s the land, the improvements to the land and of course the ex gratia payment the Crown is to make to Ngati Poneke’s executive, which will go to the trust itself,” Mr Morgan says.

The new arrangement is included in an amendment to the Port Nicholson Block Claims Settlement Bill, which should be passed this week to allow for handover of assets on july the first.


The number of Maori doctors is on the increase, but supply is still not matching demand.

The Medical Council's 2008 workforce survey shows 3.2 percent of the country's 13-thousand doctors are Maori, up half a percent on the previous year.

Ripeka Evans, the chief executive of the Maori doctors' association Te Ora, says the increase shows affirmative action strategies like Auckland University's Vision 20:20 scheme are working.

But she says getting more young Maori interested in the sciences could generate more candidates for medical schools.

“Maori communities need focus around having a revolution around science. I mean we’ve had a revolution around economic development around the last 25 years and we pretty much need the same type of approach to be able to get the numbers anywhere near we want them to be,” Ms Evans says.

The Medical Council says 42 percent of Maori doctors work in the Auckland, Waitemata & Counties Manukau DHBs, and 30 percent Maori are GPs.


Meanwhile, the author of a study on how Maori are treated in hospital says research needs to shift from describing the problem to looking for solutions.

Juliet Rumball-Smith from the University of Otago reviewed 11 studies of health care in New Zealand, which showed poorer outcomes for Maori who were treated for heart disease, renal disease, obstetric care and mental illness.

She says bringing the research together was a way of making health care workers and policy makers aware of the disparities.

“What I would recommend is we redirect some of the descriptive stuff around Maori having poorer health status into looking at why that occurs and where we can act and maybe move from the pure description into an exploration of this area,” Dr Rumball-Smith says.

Health workers need to change their practices to improve Maori outcomes.


The south Auckland man behind the whangai visa scheme is unrepentant despite today's appearance in the Manukau District Court.

Gerrard Toi Otimi is facing three charges of deception in relation to documents he gave Pacific island overstayed in exchange for a $500 koha.

He was remanded on bail until August.

Otimi denies he was issuing passports or immigration documents.

“Now the document that I produced was a membership document to my hapu so it’s going to be interesting how they can say that a document like that is deceptive,” Otimi says.

He was ordered to surrender his own passport.


The Tauranga Moana Iwi Customary Fishing Committee is warning the region's booming population is polluting the harbour and the streams feeding in to it.

Spokesperson Tu Piahana says the shellfish that hapu need for tangi and other marae gatherings are becoming too contaminated to collect.

He says services aren't coping with new housing developments, and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council doesn't plan to upgrade waterways into the harbour until 2012.

“We haven't got the services for the amount of people in our area. That is the bottom line. Everything is working to breaking point or bursting point, I’m talking about the sewer issues, and a whole lot of other issues that they didn’t foresee in the beginning, that’s all built up and impacts on our taonga,” Mr Piahana says.

He says the council needs to set up a task force to deal with the pollution issue.


The Quit Group is telling pregnant Maori it's never too late to stop smoking.

Its Maori services manager, Denise Messiter from Ngati Pukenga and Hauraki, says one in two Maori hapu wahine smoke.

She says women may feel under pressure at such a time, and they need support from whanau to give up the habit.

“There's hardly anything you can do … don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t eat kaimoana, you have all these messages, and what we are saying is it never is too late to quit and this isn’t about stopping doing something. It’s about giving baby the best possible chance in life and our wahine, our women have that power,” Ms Messiter says.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Otimi arrested for immigration scam

Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi has been arrested and charged with three counts of deception under the Crimes Act.

He will appear in the Counties Manukau court tomorrow.

Detective inspector John Tims says as part of a joint police and immigration department investigation, following three complaints from members of the public, searches were today carried out at properties connected to Mr Otimi.

“We've recovered about 5000 hapu membership certificates which haven’t been issued to any individual. We’ve also recovered a number of certificates that have been issued to individuals and we’ve also located about $40,000 in cash,” Inspector Tims says.

The police want to hear from people who have had transactions with Mr Otimi with regard to hapu membership certificates and there could be further charges pending on whether others come forward.


Labour leader Phil Goff says any change to the management structure for the Waikato River would necessitate a renegotiation of the treaty agreement reached with the previous government.

A review conducted for Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is recommending the number of boards which will manage a $210 million clean up of the river be reduced from six to one.

“It may be that the Minister in Charge of Treaty Negotiations is floating that idea but that’s something, if he wanted to follow through on it, would have to be negotiated again between the two parties to the mutual agreement of each,” Mr Goff says.

A spokesperson for the Minister says there would be no change unless iwi agree and any amendments to the deed of settlement would go before a select committee giving all parties an opportunity to have their views heard.


Mangere Budgeting Services are asking whanau to be careful with their money tomorrow as the Big Wednesday prize pool reaches more than $30 million.

Chief executive Daryl Evans says 60 per cent of his clients are Maori and this week especially they are advising whanau to steer clear of excessive spending on lotto.


The police are calling on people who may have given money to Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi for hapu certificates to come forward.

Mr Otimi was today arrested and charged with three counts of deception under the Crimes Act following three complaints from the public and searches of properties connected to him.

Detective inspector John Tims of the Counties Manukau police says during the searches 5000 unissued hapu certificates and an unspecified number of issued certificates were recovered plus about $40,000 cash.

“We are seeking help from members of the public as those who have been having transactions with Otimi with regards to the hapu membership certificates, we would like to hear from them and if they have information that can help us with the investigation, to contact myself at the Manukau police station,” Inspector Tims says.

If more people come forward further charges could be laid.


Maori tamariki are 20 times more at risk of contracting rheumatic fever and health professionals are on a crusade to rid Aotearoa of the disease by 2020.

Professor Diana Lennon from Auckland University says specialists met last weekend to discuss the National Heart Foundation's guidelines and the indicators for contracting the disease.

Ms Lennon says those with poor access to health care are most susceptible.

“What we are trying to do is forge a way forward to control rheumatic fever because most developed countries don’t have rheumatic fever and the kids who are getting rheumatic fever are the kids with poor access to healthcare and probably poor hosing as well, catching a lot of infectious diseases. For Maori, it’s about 20 to 30 time the risk to get rheumatic fever,” Professor Lennon says.

A national awareness campaign was discussed but says having school based clinics would be more effective.


The chair of Te Taumata Runanga, Waitakere City's Maori committee says mayor Bob Harvey is on the money when calling for Matariki to be recognised as a National day for Aotearoa.

Warahi Paki says the official start of Matariki is Wednesday and is an opportunity to look forward as a nation.

Mr Paki, from Waikato Tainui, says creating a national day may help to heal the acrimony surrounding Waitangi Day.

Mayor Harvey will be attending the runanga's hui tonight and Warahi Paki believes the mayor will have the support of the runanga to put his proposal before tomorrow night's full council meeting.

Otimi claims police pass for passports

The man behind issuing Maori passports to Pacific Islanders so they can stay in the country says the police have looked at his activities and given what he is doing a clean slate.

Gerrard Otimi says he began adopting Pacific Island families into his hapu as part of Maori custom to look after the needy when he saw the plight they were in.

He says their giving a $500 koha is not a payment to get a New Zealand visa and no scam has taken place.

“We've been to the Manurewa police station yesterday. They wanted to interview the people that first started and were involved in it. I left then to it. I says you ask all the questions you want. Came out clean slate,” Mr Otimi says.

He has not personally benefitted in any way and any money gathered is being used to help Pacific island families in great need.


And Maori lawyer and treaty negotiator Willie Te Aho says the Maori party should be applauding not criticising Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi for attempting to help disadvantaged pacific people.

Mr Te Aho says he does not believe Mr Otimi has broken the law or defrauded anyone in accepting $500 koha for issuing passports to pacific islanders to adopt them into his hapu.

“The Maori Party should be applauding this guy for standing up and actually saying we need to rethink this system The Maori Party is talking about having a Maori bank. Why not have a Maori immigration process? Why not have a Maori currency? We’ve got $400 million coming back into the central North Island next month. We need to start looking at using our power in a positive way,” Mr Te Aho says.

He says the question of how one can be adopted as a whangai into a hapu needs to be tested and the place for doing that is the Maori land court which is there to determine issues of Maori custom.


The mayor of Waitakere wants Matariki, or the Maori new year, which begins this week to be recognised by a public holiday.

Bob Harvey says he has been thinking of making Matariki a public holiday for about eight years and it is not something he just thought up in the shower.

“This has been growing in our identity and our culture and I’ m just so happy to be part of Matariki but I thought why don’t we just celebrate who we are and what we are in Aotearoa and maybe look at a day, a holiday or a holiday weekend when we can really go to town with matariki,” Mr Harvey says.

On Wednesday night he will ask the council’s Te Taumata Runanga to urge the New Zealand Government to make Matariki a stand-alone public holiday.

The advertising guru turned mayor, says a matariki holiday would fit comfortably between Easter and Labour weekend.

Matariki officially begins on Wednesday morning, the first day of the new moon following the rise of the Pleiades star cluster in New Zealand skies and events to mark Matariki take place throughout New Zealand from June 24 to July 24.


A Maori lawyer and leading treaty negotiator has come out in support of Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples' call for Maori to be given unfettered entry into university.

Willie Te Aho says he absolutely supports what the Minister is saying because the present education system is failing Maori.

“If you accept that you’ve got to accept there has got to be some flexibility on entry to university, We’ve seen that with Waikato here, the law school, they took a different tack to the other four law schools, allowed mature students in, allowed those with disability and a specific focus on Maori and now they are pumping out really talented Maori students and mature students,” Mr Te Aho says.

It’s a strategy which needs to be adopted across the whole university system and the Minister is absolutely right to advocate it.


The development executive for the New Zealand Film Commission says Maori filmmakers are well poised to take advantage of an increased global interest in indigenous stories.

Hone Kouka says this is a factor behind a bumper year ahead for Maori film.

“Within the next year we’ve got feature films, Briar Grace Smith, her first feature, strength of water. Taika Waititi has just finished shooting his next feature, The Volcano, up the East Coast. And Michael Bennett from Rotorua has his first feature as well, Matariki, which was shot in South Auckland, so as Maori we are getting out there,” Mr Kouka says.

New technologies have allowed more Maori than ever to get involved in the film making process.

He says that was evident by the range of new talent who submitted their work for screening at the annual Wairoa Maori Film Festival held over the weekend.


The head of Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust John Tamihere says the whanau will take time to come to terms with the loss of a well respected West Auckland kaumatua.

He says Wiremu Tairua who died peacefully at his home late last week, was a kaumatua with his own style.

“He was a real gentleman, really steeped in Ngapuhitanga but didn’t need to assert it or express it so everyone knew it but he had a calming influence as a consequence. Different kaumatua have different attributes in the way they direct and lead and he just had a wonderful presence but whenever you needed that x factor, he would come through with it,” Mr Tamihere says.

Mr Tairua, who was in his 80's, championed Ngapuhi issues in the West, as chair of Te Piringatahi marae, which also has a Ngapuhi kohanga reo attached.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Passport scam turns Islanders off Maori

A Pacific broadcaster says the passport incident where several hundred Pacific Island overstayers paid $500 to Gerrard Otimi for unauthorised immigration status, has created a division between Maori and Pacific people.

Jae'D Victor, from the Pacific Media Network, says there is now a growing sense of mistrust and resentment from Pacific people to Gerrard Otimi, and perhaps Maori in general.

Mr Victor who was at the Manurewa marae last Wednesday, and broke the story about Mr Otimi's activities says the incident highlights the need for more support for Pacific people regarding immigration.

“Our Pacific people aren’t going to come forward because of fears something even more drastic will happen to them. Our people, they’re very vulnerable but if they’re not going to get the sort of help they ought to be getting then they are going to go to someone who will say ‘yes you can have your visa, you can have permanent residency for this amount of money,’” Mr Victor says.

He believes the Pacific people were genuine in their trust for Mr Otimi and if nothing else he should return the money.

But Gerrard Otimi says he has not broken any laws and the money was given as a koha.

The Ngati Maniapoto man says Pacific people came to him for help and he was only trying to support them by giving them whangai status, or adoption into his own hapu.

“I had a family come to me because they were being deported. They come to me all crying so I says ok I can help you, I can whangau you into my hapu. Now this is my hapu. There’s nothng wrong with that. They gave me a koha and it escalated from there,” Mr Ptomi says.

He says the money is going into a cooperative which has a management system to help all the Pacific Island people.


Matariki celebrations got underway at the beginning of the month but the official start is this Wednesday.

Manukau City will launch a picture book for tamariki, Te Tuna no Maketu, by Candice Reading from Rangitane.

Ms Reading says she wanted to write about native creatures and teach tamariki about conservation and preservation, two elements of Matariki.

Matariki is the Maori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster or The Seven Sisters.

In late May they dip below the horizon and their re-appearance a few weeks later signifies the end of the harvest season. The first new moon to follow brings the new year.


The first wahine to chair a Maori incorporation says a solid bottom line and a commitment to sustainable development is behind Pakarae Whangaraa B5 being named Maori beef and sheep farm of the year at the annual Ahuwhenua Awards held over the weekend.

Ingrid Collins says three years ago two neighbouring properties were merged to create the 5000 hectare farm north of Gisborne.

“It is a model that I hope other people will take up but I’ve said to our relations in Tolaga Bay to wait another two years. I’ve said give me five years and if it’s bedded down and working, let’s use this model for all our relations up there,” Ms Collins says.

While preservation of the land for future generations is paramount, the farm has been profitable enough to annually pay out close to half a million dollars to their Ngati Kohohi shareholders, and a million dollars for development.

The Ahuwhenua Awards were set up 72 years ago by the then Minister of Maori Affairs Sir Apirana Ngata to recognise excellence among Maori farmers.


A leading Maori lawyer and treaty negotiator believes Maori passport issuer Gerrard Otimi has a defendable legal case.

Willie Te Aro says ten years ago what was understood as iwi was redefined to include urban Maori and Mr Otimi is doing the same with Whangai or adoption into the Maori hapu.

“We are not a people frozen in time. We are a dynamic people and ultimately if his approach to whangai is about manaaki tangata and giving them a better opportunity than they have now, I think that is arguable in the court and I’m saying the Maori Land Court, because that is the specialist area for issues of Maori custom,” Mr Te Aho says.

He says the police seem to be backing away from talking about legal action against Mr Otimi for accepting $500 koha for the issuing of passports adopting Pacific Islanders into his hapu.


Two Te Taitokerau health services, CCS Disability Action and Ngati Hine Health Trust, have joined forces in the hope of establishing a collective for the rights of disabled Maori.

Auriole Ruka from CCS Disability Action says for disabled Maori things like making marae accessible is an important kaupapa.

“Accessible marae affects all Maori. For our kuia, kaumatua, it would mean they could stay on the marae, participate fully when there are tangihanga, things like that, without people having to leave,” Ms Ruka says.

A hui will be held at Te Puna o Te Matauranga Marae, on Thursday to map the way forward.

Pakarae Whangara wins Ahuwhenua Trophy

The chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy organising committee says increasing consolidation is likely as Maori land enterprises search for efficiency.

Pakarae Whangara B5 Partnership won the premier Maori farming contest for its management of a 5600-hectare sheep and beef farm north of Gisborne which has placed it in the top 10 percent for its farm class.

The competition was started by Sir Apirana Ngata in 1932 to promote his farm development policies, and revived in recent years.

Kingi Smiler says the Pakarae Whangara partnership came together in 2006 so two adjoining Ngati Konohi-owned farms could benefit from economies of scale.

He says Maori-owned farms are some of the largest in the country, and they are increasingly setting benchmarks for good farming practice.


A Ngai Tahu artist has turned to audio-visual techniques to add another dimension to her new series of jewellery.

Areta Wilkinson’s Waka Huia series opens at the Mary Newton Gallery in Wellington tomorrow.

She says each of the 12 unique works will include a recording on its creation.

That’s a departure for her previous practice of letting the work speak for itself.


Film festival audiences around the country will have a rare chance to see Barry Barclay’s ground-breaking Tangata Whenau series of documentaries.

Festival head Bill Gosden says the Ngati Apa writer and director, who died last year, broke down barriers not just for Maori but for indigenous film-makers around the world.

He says the new prints of the six Tangata Whenua episodes highlight the foresight of Barclay and his co-writer on the series, Michael King.

“I think it was enormously influential and looking at those films which were made in 1974, looking at them 30 years later they seem enormously progressive for their time and you almost wonder what happened for the next 15 years because those films have quite a modern sensibility,” Mr Gosden says.

The Auckland and Wellington festivals also include Barclay’s feature-length documentary about seed patenting, The Neglected Miracle, and The Camera on the Shore, a documentary by Graeme Tuckett in which Barclay talks about all of his films.


A film made in Hokianga which has been acclaimed in European and North American film festivals is coming home.

The Strength of Water is one of the main draws at next month’s Auckland and Wellington film festivals.

It was directed by Armagan Ballantyne from a script by Briar Grace Smith of Ngapuhi and Ngati Wai.

Festival director Bill Gosden says a large contingent is expected from Hokianaga for the Auckland premiere on July 18.

“I guess the film is a ghost story. It’s a story of twins who have been separated by death but who don’t sense that separation, they continue to be in touch with each other while nobody else can see the little girl. It’s an incredibly moving film. I think it’s a very potent piece of work,” Mr Gosden says.

Followers of Maori film will also be keen to see the Barry Barclay documentaries brought together for the festivals, including new prints of the ground-breaking Tangata Whenua documentary series from 1974.


The Whanau ora task force holds its first meeting this week with associate social development minister Taria Turia keen for it to set a new direction for government policy.

The taskforce is chaired by Massey University Professor Mason Durie, an acknowledged expert in Maori health and social development, and includes people active in iwi trusts, hauora and the Maori Women’s Welfare League.

Mrs Turia says the government is looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of its services to Maori and will be open to what her taskforce comes up with.

“I don't think the Government would have gone this far if it wasn’t considerably interested in what the taskforce can bring to the table but more importantly because we’ve got a lot of money being spent on and for Maori and what we’re really interested to know is whether it’s been value for money and whether as a government we can do better. We think we can,” Mrs Turia says.


The Maori Tourism Council has aligned itself more closely with the national tourism body.

Chairperson John Barrett says it’s moving in to the Tourism Industry Association’s Wellington head office.

The Hotel Council of New Zealand is also occupying space in the building.

Mr Barrett says while his council will retain its autonomy, the initiative should provide opportunities for Maori operators.

Mr Barrett, who also runs a tourism business on Kapiti Island, is acting as executive chair while a replacement is found for chief executive Neville Forman, who left to build up his own consulting company.