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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wakatu closing the gulf on investments

The chief executive of Wakatu Incorporation says it's learned its lesson about trying to invest outside its home base at the top of the South Island.

A paper loss on a property development in Gulf Harbour north of Auckland contributed to the incorporation's $10.7 million loss for the year, with a drop in value of its mussel space making up the bulk of the loss.

But Keith Palmer says its property, aquaculture and horticulture businesses were all cash positive, and the continued success of its Nelson property developments points the way ahead.

“Property development has cooled down but in your own area you know the keen buyers who keep going, you know the areas people are always buying in. You go to someone else’s town, they’re just as smart as you and they know a lot more,” Mr Palmer says

Wakatu now has assets of about $250 million, up from the $11 million it started with in 1977 when it was set up to manage Maori reserved lands in Nelson and Motueka.


The Hawkes Bay District Health Board's Maori unit has created a science academy to encourage rangitahi to study science.

Spokesperson Dianne Wepa says the academy will connect students with local business to keep science interesting.

She says if students stop studying maths and science, they will almost certainly cut themselves off from careers in medicine.

“The drop off rate for Maori after year 10 is huge. Only 6.5 percent of Maori continue on with the science subjects until they leave high school compared to 25 percent for non-Maori students. That’s not good enough and we need to do something about that,” Dianne Wepa says.

The unit has also held a breakfast for kuia to impress on them the importance of impressing on mokopuna the importance of taking science subjects.


The chair of the Rapaki Runanga based says building a new whare tipuna required members of the Lyttelton harbour hapu to do extensive research into their whakapapa.

Kopa Lee says the richly carved interior of the whare is in marked contrast to the plain 107-year-old hall it replaced.

He says carver Riki Manuel quizzed the whanau about the area's rich Maori history, so inside the whare are pou representing the key ancestors of each whanau.

The new whare, named Wheke, sleeps 50, and includes a whare taonga and meeting room.


Waikato - Hauraki MP Nanaia Mahuta says some of the submissions against the Marine and Coastal Area Bill show how vested interests fear Maori entry into their industry.

Ms Mahuta says there seems to be little support for the bill, with Maori concerned about the cost and difficulty of proving customary title.

But she says the real debate about the foreshore relates to aquaculture and mining, and the bill won't really help anyone in that regard.

“I know in Hauraki there’s huge potential still for Maori to participate in aquaculture and I didn’t just accept a number of submissions from those players on the aquaculture landscape saying this will create unease in the industry. I believe that Maori want to participate in aquaculture, certainly in Hauraki, that they want certainty too,” Ms Mahuta says.

The Maori Affairs select committee is hearing submissions on the bill in Auckland today.


The people of Tasman area have set up a confidential website where people can report racist incidents in their community.

Evey McAuliffe from the Nelson Multicultural Council says the Speak Out Nelson - Tasman campaign is a response to the changing face of the community.

She says as well as having a sizeable Maori population, one in five people in the area was born outside New Zealand.

Mrs McAuliffe says people don't need an Internet connection to take part, as people in centres can help people lodge their complaints online.


Maori filmmakers are getting the chance to get an international perspective on indigenous screen production this weekend.

Organiser Ella Henry symposium at the AUT University marae was the brainchild of the late Merata Mita.

She says one of Ms Mita’s oldest filmmaking friends, Montreal-based Alanis Obomsawin, who is almost 80 and still making films, will be joined by two other Canadian filmmakers and two Australian Aboriginal filmmakers.


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