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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, November 19, 2010

Occupation threat to settlement

The Prime Minister says the occupation of land at Taipa in the Far North could damage the treaty settlement process.

The occupation is being led by brothers John and Wikatana Popata, who last year were sentenced to 100 hours community work after pleading guilty to assaulting Mr Key as he entered Waitangi Marae on Waitangi Day.

He says it's undermining the work Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson is doing to finally settle the Muriwhenua land claims.

“If there's a genuine claim there, and there may or may not be, I don’t know in relation to that piece of land, but if there is, then the right process is for everyone to take that up with the Treaty Negotiations Minister and the negotiation team, and that way we can get a result that it’s either right and it forms part of the treaty settlement or it’s not,” Mr Key says.

He says the Popata brothers, who are nephews of Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, are trying to paint the occupation as a protest as a foreshore and seabed issue, when it is clearly not.


The chair of the Hawkes Bay's Ngati Kahungunu iwi says his people want the door left open to discuss mining on Maori owned land.

The Iwi Leaders Group has come under fire for holding a closed-door meeting with the prime minister and resources minister on mining policy.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says while he was not at that meeting, Maori are no strangers to mining.

“If our people are sitting pohara, and we’re sitting on a mountain of gold, we’d say dig it out, because all of our kids are going over to Australia and mining the Aborigine’s land so it’s all right for them to go over there but if we’re sitting on it here, why don’t we export it ourselves. If we had bulldozers and digger 500 years ago, I’m sure we would have had a dig,” Mr Tomoana says.


A Canturbury university researcher says liquor bans are turning young people into criminals.

David Small says heavy-handed enforcement of bans is part of the reason New Zealand has one of the world's highest imprisonment rates, including the disproportionate rate of Maori imprisonment.

He says three quarters of the people convicted of breaching liquor bans between 2004 and 2008 were under 25 and half were under 21.
Most had no previous records.

“People who aren’t causing any trouble at all, they’re not drinking the alcohol, they’re not drunk, not being disorderly, are getting picked up, getting arrested, getting handcuffed, getting taken to the cells, getting brought to court, and getting criminal records. It’s not fair because it’s particularly targeting young people and I don’t think it’s fair because I don’t think it’s such a big deal if they’re doing other stuff as well,” Dr Small says.

He says rather than being a criminal offence, having alcohol in a liquor ban area should be treated like a parking offence.


The manager of the Taipa Resort Hotel says the Government needs to remove a Ngati Kahu protest group before the far north settlement fills up for the holiday season.

Dale Synnott says the occupation has led to a number of cancellations over the Christmas period, and yesterday one of the protesters boarded a tour bus entering the hotel and delivered a lecture on the protest to the passengers.

She says claims by supporters like Ngati Kahu chair Margaret Mutu and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira that the protesters were respectful and under the guidance of kaumatua and kuia don't square with the experience of residents.

“They go up and down the road tooting their horns with these foreshore and seabed flags flying. They’ve got flags on their cars. They’ve been down the end of the road stopping people from going about their daily business and they want to tell them all about why they're protesting,” Mrs Synnott says.

She's been in contact with Government ministers.


The head of Waikato-based public health organisation Toiora says two whanau ora centres opened yesterday signal a new era for Maori health.

The centres, at Kirikiriroa Marae in Hamilton and Taumaranui, are funded by the Ministry of Health rather than the whanau ora fund administered by Te Puni kokiri.

Tureiti Moxon says Toiora, which has almost 50,000 Maori and high needs patients on its books, is part of the National Maori PHO Coalition, which is one of the providers of the government's Better, Sooner, More Convenient primary health care programme.

She says the whanau ora framework recognises what Maori providers do anyway.

“For a long time Maori providers have been filling in gaps that we’re not actually funded for but have been doing the work anyway and at long last the political will, the community will, the whanau will is there to make this transformational change,” Mrs Moxon says


An internationally acclaimed hula expert says Maori will recognise the cultural relevance of the traditional Hawiaian hula dance.

Blaine Kamalani Kia from from the Ka Waikahe Lani Malie hula school is in Aotearoa to run workshops and establish a school to teach the hula.

He says the intricate movements have a lot more cultural meaning than the cliched performances associated with tourist hula.

“Part of our priority is to make sure that people understand the hula in its origin from its essence and what it truly means to us as a living, breathing part of who we are as a people and the same applies with our Tahitians and our Maoris, our Marquesians, Samoans and we all have that some perception on how we view our art of dance and how it’s tied in to our land and our people,” he says.


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