Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toeknism best expected for Auckland council

The only Maori member on the Auckland City Council says the proposed Maori statutory board for Auckland super city smacks of tokenism.

Denise Roche from Raukawa and Ngati Huri wants board members to be able to sit on any council committee, and have a vote.

But Auckland's Citizens and Ratepayers majority is recommending the Government stick with what's in the third Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill that the council decide which committees the statutory board can advise.

“That board should be advising on everything to do with Maori, on social issues, on economic issues, and not just on the Resource Management Act and waahi tapu for example,” Ms Roche says.

Members of the Maori statutory board won't have a vote on any of the committees they are allowed to join.


A Ratana nun is backing Labour MP Shane Jones' attack on church leaders playing politics.

Mr Jones responded sharply to speakers who used last Sunday's welcome at the church's annual hui to tick off Labour and praise National and the Maori Party.

Marama Nathan from Ngapuhi says Mr Jones was echoing the words of church founder Tahupotiki Ratana, whose birthday was being celebrated.

“If you are an apotoro, if your turanga is as a minister of our church, then don’t try and walk in the shoes of others. And Ratana did say this too, he said don’t try and wear the boots that belong to others. That needs to be said. They’re not politicians. They’re ministers of the church for goodness sake,” Ms Nathan says.

She says Ratana's message of peace and goodwill is still relevant, and she is planning a hikoi of 100 Ratana members around the world to promote that message.


Kaikohe is gearing up for a weekend of Ngapuhitanga.

Taiha Molyneux from the Ngapuhi Runanga says thousands of people are expected at Northland College for sports, music, culture and whanaungatanga.

There are also wananga for people who want to learn more about the tribal dialect, karanga, waiata moteata and the ancestral connections between Ngapuhi and the Society Islands.

There's even a dedicated area for taitamariki.

Entry to the Ngapuhi Festival at Northland College is free.


Maori party co-leader Pita Sharples says retiring Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons will always be a friend of Maori.

He says the Coromandel-based MP, who stepped aside as leader last year and is now leaving after 13 years in parliament, was a great and dignified leader.

She was also an ally of the Maori Party.

“The younger leaders see us as a party contesting similar things as they are and they don’t show us the same cordial relations as Jeanette does. She will always be a friend,”Dr Sharples says.


The only Maori councillor on Auckland City Council believes there is little chance councilors on the new Auckland super city council will open doors for Maori.

Councils are required to consider Maori representation every few years, and can create Maori seats or other arrangements.

But Denise Roche, who represents the Hauraki Gulf ward, says the attitude of the current Citizen and Ratepayers majority on the Auckland city representatives shows this is unlikely.

“Within Auckland city council we’ve also tried to raise the fact that Maori should be polled to see if they would like to have their own councilors. It went absolutely nowhere,” Ms Roche says.

She says the proposed Maori Statutory Advisory Board for the super city will be tokenism at its worst.


They may have only come seventh, but the New Zealand team is taking valuable experience and contacts away from the World Junior Surfing Championships which finished this week at Piha.

14-year-old Sarah Mason from Ngati Awa, who now lives in northern New South Wales, was the highest placed Maori competitor ... finishing eighth in the Under 18 Girls Division.

Surfer and broadcaster Te Kauhoe Wano says hosting the event offered Maori surfers a lot of opportunities, either as competitors or volunteers.

He says a real feeling of whanaungatanga emerged between the Maori, Tahitian and Hawaiian surfers.

Friday, January 29, 2010

National Library denies harvesting whakapapa pages

The National Library says its "Web Harvest" programme won't expose private whakapapa information to the public gaze.

The head of the Maori Internet Society has raised concerns about the way the project will hande sensitive information.

But Sue Sutherland, the acting director of the National Digital Library, says the harvest ... scheduled for April... collects information already in the public domain.

That means the library doesn't need to consult Maori, although people can raise concerns through its website.

“More and more information is just published in the digital domain, people don’t print it, and if we don’t do something abut keeping a copy of that material quite a large part of our cultural, social and way of life will be lost to future generations, so as libraries in the past collected printed material, the National Library collects digital material as well,” Ms Sutherland says.

Site owners retain the copyright for the material on their pages collected by the library.


Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says increased understanding of treaty issues is good news for Maori.

The Human Rights Commission's annual survey found those who considered they had a good understanding of the Treaty rose from 34 to 41 per cent.

Some 56 per cent now see it as New Zealand's founding document.

Mrs Turia says the treaty settlement process is making people more aware.

“As people's knowledge of what happened in the past increases they can see there is justice in the settlements so that turns their thinking around I believe.”


The annual Ngapuhi Festival in Kaikohe kicks off today with the Taitokerau Maori Sports Awards.

Ngapuhi Runanga spokesperson Taiha Molyneux says there are some impressive contenders for the top titles.

The junior section includes Tohora Te Oneroa Harawira for his contributions to powerlifting and kapa haka, Megan Craig for basketball, boxing and hip hop dance, and Sian Keepa for netball and basketball, which the male open category could come down to a clash between axeman Jason Wynyard and touch rugby player Paul Davis.

The Ngapuhi festival runs until Sunday at Northland College.


Air New Zealand's new uniforms have come under fire for insensitive use of Maori forms.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and Indigenous studies at Canterbury University, says the Trelise Cooper-designed uniforms look like they have put together by someone who has a few too many wines.

He says the pattern, which supposedly draw on traditional Maori designs, look like the Thomas the Tank Engine poster on his son's bedroom wall.

“You have got to be open minded and appreciate traditional art forms will morph and change but the way these ones have been thrown together, there’s so many of them, it’s all cluttered and they’re so distorted and it’s obviously been put together by someone who doesn’t really understand the significance of the motifs and how they might fit and work together,” Associate Professor Taonui says.

He says it's not the first time Air New Zealand has been insensitive to Maori, and a previous ad campaign had to be withdrawn because of mispronounce Maori words.


Auckland's first Maori community magistrate will be sworn in today.

Community magistrates were first appointed in the Waikato Bay of Plenty area in 1999 to take some of the workload off District Court judges.

Lavinia Nathan of Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua has worked on offender rehabilitation since the 1980s.

She says it's important for Maori to see other Maori in judicial roles.

“A kaumatua told me many years ago that when a tui cries out, only another tui answers, and I think that by having Maori in these positions we are able to hear the cries of our people, to look at different strategies or alternate ways of dealing with Maori,” Ms Nathan says.

The eight community magistrates will take the judicial oath at Manukau District Court this afternoon.


Maori boxers have a chance this weekend to stake their claims for a place in the New Zealand Commonwealth Cup team.

Tui Gallagher, the president of the Auckland Boxing Association, says wins in Auckland tomorrow mean a ticket to Delhi in March.
She says Maori have always featured prominently in the amateur ranks.

The professionals get their chance on Sunday to box for a place in the New Zealand squad for a test series against Australian in March which is being dubbed the Bloodisloe Cup.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Minimum wage rise sets Government at odds

The Maori Party is on a collision course with National over the minimum wage.

Co-leader Tariana Turia is disappointed at the government's decision to raise the minimum hourly wage by only 25 cents to $12.75.

The Maori party has been pushing for $15.

“Obviously the people who make these decisions don’t give any consideration for the working poor and we‘re very disappointed because we believe that many of the social ills that we confront today can be sheeted immediately back to low income,” Mrs Turia says.

She says the low wages earned by a disproportionate number of Maori lead to lower educational, health and social performance.


The Race Relations commissioner, Joris de Bres, expects this year's constitutional review to give Maori another chance to raise representation on the Auckland super city council.

In the Human Right's Commission's annual review of the Treaty of Waitangi, Mr de Bres noted the way the Government sidestepped the select committee subcommittee which was supposed to report on the issue.

He says issues of representation won't go away, and the constitutional review offers an opportunity to strengthen human rights protections in New Zealand, including the rights of Indigenous peoples.

“It isn't specifically about local government but I think if principles emerge from that perhaps they can also be applied to other areas like local government,” Mr de Bres says.

There was positive progress on Treaty of Waitangi issues last year, and greater public understanding of those issues.


Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says Jeanette Fitzsimons was a true ally of Maori during her time in politics.

Ms Fitzsimons has announced she's quitting Parliament after 13 years as an MP.

Ms Turei says her predecessor brought issues such as genetic engineering, climate change, water quality and social justice to the political mainstream, but her legacy could be the way she brought together Green and treaty issues.

“Her recognition that a party like ours in on a treaty journey and we need to make space for more learning and dialogue and korero about these issues and be open to how the treaty can be implemented in the future,” Ms Turei says.

Jeanette Fitzsimons will be replaced in the Green caucus by Gareth Hughes who, at 28, will be the youngest MP.


Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says a 25 cent lift in the minimum wage is disgraceful.

Parekura Horomia the new rate of $12.75 is a sick joke for those tens of thousands of Maori who are among the worst paid workers in the country.

“We need to lift it now to $15. People need more to live on. They are talking about raising gst to 15 percent. It is really dangerous for our people,” Mr Horomia says.

The last time National was in government it only raised the raised the minimum wage by 67 cents during its term.


A Maori anti-smoking campaigner says a suggested deadline of 2013 for the sale of tobacco products is achievable.

Shane Kawenata Bradbrook from Te Ao Marama says the ban on party pills set the precedent for swift government action on drug supply.

He says three years is enough time to fund cessation programmes and pass legislation banning tobacco.

Mr Bradbrook will be telling the select committee inquiry into the tobacco industry that with more than 600 Maori a year dying from tobacco-related illness, Maori communities can't afford to wait.

“You know you can’t be real about this mahi if you want to stretch it out another 10, 20, 30 years. You’ve just got to say enough's enough,” Mr Bradbrook says.


Associate health minister Tariana Turia says Te Ao Marama's call for a ban on the sale of cigarettes by 2013 is ambitious.

The Maori Party co-leader says it's the sort of position that the Maori affairs select committee's inquiry into smoking aims to bring out.

“It does bring into question why we would continue to sell a product we know kills 5000 people a year. Something’s got to happen,” Mrs Turia says.

Fellow Maori party MP Hone Harawira has also called for a total ban on tobacco sales.


Some of Ngapuhi's leading artists have brought their work home for the iwi to see.

Their painting and sculptures went up yesterday in the Northland College Hall in Kaikohe, and they'll be on display throughout the Ngapuhi Festival running over the weekend.

Ngapuhi Runanga communications manager Taiha Molyneux says some on the biggest names in the Aotearoa art world are involved, including Shane Cotton, Manos Nathan and Kura Rawiri.

The Ngapuhi Festival will also feature the musical arts, with Katchafire, 1814, Anika Moa, and Sons of Zion among the acts on stage over the weekend.

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"Revolutionary" change led by Maori

Leading Treaty of Waitangi scholar Claudia Orange says Maori have driven a lot of what can only be described as revolutionary change in New Zealand over the past 40 years.

At Te Papa tonight, Dr Orange hosts a debate on the development of Maori activism between Whakatohea academic Dr Ranginui Walker and his biographer Paul Spoonley.

She says change may have happened anyway, but it has been given a push through the treaty process.

“Change has been forced and it has been forced by Maori, sometimes by protest and sometimes by judicious means by a whole range of issues and there have been key Maori leaders at each time in different areas and spreading that drive in a whole range of issues and political persuasions,” Dr Orange says.

The debate and another next week between Massey university professor Mason Durie and political commentator Colin James will be broadcast on Radio New Zealand National.


Immigration consultant Tuariki John Delamere says a planned protest at Waitangi could get heated.

The former New Zealand First MP and immigration minister is acting for six families where the fathers of Maori children were deported as overstayers.

He says the health of whanau is a treaty issue, so the families intend to go to the birthplace of the treaty to make their point.


The director of a Maori anti smoking group is calling for a total ban on the sale of tobacco products in New Zealand by 2013.

Shane Kawenata Bradbrook from Te Ao Marama says more than 600 Maori will die this year of a tobacco-related condition.

He says if government can ban party pills, it can ban tobacco.

“Not one death occurred and yet it was gone overnight, yet here we have this situation, 5000 New Zealanders, 600 Maori die each year and there’s no such urgency,” Mr Bradbrook says.

He says this year's Maori Affairs select committee's investigation into the tobacco industry is a chance for Maori to take the industry to task for the damage smoking does to Maori communities.


The Human Rights Commission says understanding of treaty issues has risen significantly in the past year.

Race Relations commissioner Joris de Bres says the commission's annual survey found those who considered they had a good understanding of the Treaty rose from 34 to 41 per cent.

He says 56 per cent saw it as New Zealand's founding document.

“Those were good results. The general view still in terms of those surveys is the health of the Crown-tangata whenua relationship has some way to go,” Mr de Bres says.

The government was seen as making good progress with Treaty settlements, despite refusing to allow Maori representation on the Auckland super city council.


It's back to the classroom already this week for teachers in the 17 schools coming in to the innovative professional development programme Te Kotahitanga.

Russell Bishop, the foundation professor of Maori education at Waikato University, says the schools, which include clusters on the East Coast and the Hawkes Bay, bring more than 6000 Maori students into programme.

In-school facilitators are training the teachers about what support they can expect and how they can change their classroom practices and interactions with Maori students to improve outcomes.

Professor Bishop says it's an important week for the 50 schools in Te Kotahitanga.

“Some of these schools are using these weeks now as part of their initiation into the school and so new staff come along and existing staff come in and support them and they use it as a big team building exercise for the start of the year,” he says.

Professor Bishop has just completed a book on how innovation can be scaled up through the school system, and he's writing another one on the lessons of Te Kotahitanga.


Meanwhile, Greens' co-leader Meteria Turei says the Government's planned national education standards will hurt Maori students.

In yesterday's cabinet reshuffle, Education Minister Anne Tolley was relieved of her tertiary education responsibilities so she could concentrate on introducing the new testing regime for primary schools.

Ms Turei says it's clear Mrs Tolley is following former United States president George Bush's no child left behind policy, even though it has been shown to have a negative effect on students from minorities.

“In the UK and US the black and poorer students in those countries have suffered the most under national standards because teachers are teaching to the test, there are students who don’t get access to the test because they won’t pass it and therefore the school won’t allow them to sit those tests,” Ms Turei says.

Low decile schools which include lot of Maori children will be hit hardest by national standards.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Key pleased at Ratana reception

Prime Minister John Key is counting the year's first major hui as a win for National and its partner the Maori Party.

Mr Key says the effusive praise he heard for his government at Ratana Pa over the weekend was a welcome endorsement of the coalition's Maori initiatives.

He says it was a clear sign that the long historical relationship between Labour and Ratana is in trouble.

“My sense is that is not anywhere near as strong as it used to be that tie is fairly severely broken. I think you’d say the majority of that support has gone over to the Maori Party,” Mr Key says.


An emerging Ratana leader says the morehu or church members are sick of being taken for granted by Labour.

Ruia Aperahama says the relationship began in the 1930s when Labour was desperate for votes from Ratana members.

But he says Labour failed to keep its side of the bargain by helping Ratana with serious social and economic issues, and now many members are switching allegiances after staying silent for decades.

“You will find that there are a lot of Ratanas who because of this history have had enough of the compromise. They don’t want to be taken for granted any more. They put their sway behind the Maori Party,” Mr Aperahama says.

He says Labour is good at developing Maori policies but lacks the courage to follow through.


Meanwhile, John Key's next major hui may not go so smoothly.

Immigration consultant Tuariki John Delamere says the Prime minister can expect a protest at Waitangi against the deportation of the parents of Maori children.

Mr Delamere, an immigration minister in the 1996 National - New Zealand First coalition, is acting for six families whose fathers have been kicked out of New Zealand as overstayers.

He says the families intend to confront the Mr Key on Te Tii Marae, and emotions may run high.

“They're Maori children, from Whakatohea, Tainui, Te Whanau Apanui, Ngapuhi, and they’re entitled to live in this country because they are tangata whenua and they are citizens and the treaty says they have the right to grow up with their whanau. Well, their whanau includes their father,” Mr Delamere says.

He would like other families in the same situation to join the protest, even if they are not Maori.


Waka are arriving Te Pewhairangi, the Bay of Islands, for the largest gathering of traditional canoes since 1990.

They include Mataatua Puhi, the first waka built by Hekenukumai Busby, Te Toi o Mataatua from Whakatane, the voyaging waka Te Aurere and a waka which will have an all-female crew.

Mr Busby has spent the past few months restoring two Northland waka, Ngatoki matawhaorua, which were commissioned by Princess Te Puea for New Zealand's centenary.

“They celebrated the 1940 commemorations together and this will be the first year, 70 years after, they will actually be on the water together,” Mr Busby says.

More than 300 kai hoe or paddlers have been attending weekend wananga in Auckland, Whakatane and the Bay of islands to fine tuning their paddling skills and learn waiata, karakia and haka appropriate to waka.


The Prime Minister says rolling out Tariana Turia's whanau ora family support programme will be one of his government's top priorities for the year.

The scheme will put Maori providers between government agencies and families in need.

John Key says shifting funding from Wellington-based government agencies to social service providers in the community makes sense.

“There no particular reason why Waipareira Trust for instance can’t take responsibility for 200 or 300 families or more, go there and say we will look after all your needs, we’ll work with you. You’ve got some responsibilities but you have too, let’s work our way through it,” Mr Key says.

The principles behind whanau ora could be applied to other groups receiving government services.


The head of arts organisation Toi Maori says the blockbuster Avatar has lessons for Aotearoa.

The James Cameron movie, which includes special effects by Wellington's Weta Workshop and an invented language based on Maori, tells the story of an indigenous race fighting off a ruthless mining corporation.

Garry Nicholas says it's a story indigenous peoples can relate to, and it should serve as a warning to the government over its plans to open national parks up to mining.

“What we saw in Avatar is no different to what’s happened to a number of indigenous people’s throughout the world and the work that is being done now internationally to try and protect those sacred areas, those special areas of uniqueness, I applaud that effort,” Mr Nicholas says.

He says iwi will join with conservation groups to block mining plans.

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Ring-ins used for cruise ship powhiri

An organisation promoting Maori arts is applauding port authorities in Tauranga for stopping a company welcoming cruise ships with fake presentations.

The port banned Discovery Heritage Group after complaints its performers included French and Israeli travelers wearing traditional Maori dress with moko scrawled on their faces.

Toi Maori chief executive Garry Nicholas says cultural experiences need to be authentic.

“What we have to show visitors to this country and they are visitors and they need to be treated as guests, is what they are presented with of a cultural nature, an artistic nature, it has to be as close as we can get to being a real and fair exchange of ideas from one culture to another,” Mr Nicolas says.

The story has been picked up by news organisations around the world, which could be extremely damaging to other tourism operations.


A mobile community barbeque is giving Flaxmere residents a way to voice their concerns.

Henare O'Keefe, the Flaxmere ward councilor on the Hastings District Council, says the tunu tunu or grill proved such a popular feature of last year's Enough is Enough campaign against street crime, it's been extended.

He says councilors, police and social agencies have joined in the giant sausage sizzle, which has been held in difference streets every couple of days through the summer.

“This mobile narbeque is non threatening and it has that ability to straddle the racial divide with effortless ease. You give our whanau a bit of sauce, onion, the bread and the sausage, straight away the barriers go down. You build that relationship and next thing you know they’re opening up, they’re pouring their hearts out. It’s been very very successful,” Mr O'Keefe says.


This year's Golden Shears competition will include a tribute to some of the great Maori shearers of yesteryear.

Commentator Koro Mullins says shearers such as Ray Alabaster, Samson Te Whata and Jack Dowd, the first Maori to hold the world ewe and lamb record, paved the way for today's young guns like Johnny Kirkpatrick and Dion Morrell from Ngati Kahungunu.

He says a huge amount of organisation is going into making the 50th Golden Shears in Masterton in March an event to remember, with 360 volunteers, 25 truck drivers, and judges coming from round the world.

The New Zealand team for the world champs in Wales will be named after the event.


Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says 2010 will be the year the incompatibility between National and Maori Party policy shines through.

Parekura Horomia says Labour's first caucus meeting in Auckland set the scene for what should be a combative year.

He says Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have made a lot of noise about their good working relationships within Government, but the social policies they are pushing like whanau ora and prison rehabilitation are poles apart from where National really wants to go.

“You saw just before Christmas, the set to between Tariana and Paula Bennett. You’ve seen the other tensions between Pita and the leadership in relation to the Maori seats in Auckland and that’s something you can’t readily fix when you’ve got one lot saying they want all the drop around Maoridom and the other lot saying we’ve got to head a lot of that off,” Mr Horomia says.

He says National's social and economic policies are already doing huge damage to Maori communities.


One of the judges for the New Zealand Post Book awards believes a new system will give Maori books a better chance of taking out the top prizes.

Authors will now compete in just four categories: poetry, fiction, illustrated non-fiction and general non-fiction.

With fewer categories there will be more money on offer... with the book of the year picking up $15,000.

Writer and broadcaster Paul Diamond of Ngati Haua, Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi says there will still be a separate award for books in te reo Maori, but all other works by Maori authors or on Maori topics are in the general competition.

The finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards will be announced on June 22 with the awards themselves being presented in Auckland on August 27.


One of Michael Campbell's early mentors thinks the golfer needs a new coach.

The one time US Open winner now struggles to make the cut in the few tournaments he turns out for, and says there are days he wonders whether it is time to quit.

Former coach Vic Pirihi says things seem to have gotten stale at the Campbell camp, and guidance from the likes of Kiwi men's coach James Kupa could help.

“Jamie's got a great way about him and I’m sure he and Michael would click it off and he would find some holes in his armour. Another guy, living in Sydney now, is Alec Mercer, who had a lot to do with Michael in his formative years. But he can make up his own mind,” Mr Pirihi says.

Merit needed for access to Labour list

Labour leader Phil Goff says Ratana candidates need to compete on merit for positions on his party's list.

Mr Goff has been in talks with leading Ratana members about Labour's relationship with the movement.

During the party's annual visit to Ratana Pa on Sunday, speakers made public their wish for Labour to set aside positions high on its list for four Ratana candidates - reinstatement of the historic four corners.

Mr Goff says that's not the way Labour works.

“We'd of course welcome any nominations from Ratana members but you’ve got a constitution, you’ve got a process. People get selected on the basis of their hard work, their skill, their commitment, their values and I hope we do get some good candidates up from Ratana but you can’t promise anything. People have to put their name forward. They have got to be of quality to get selection,” Mr Goff says.

Ratana support for Labour remains important, more than 70 years after church founder T W Ratana formed a pact with the first Labour prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage.


Meanwhile, an expert on the Electoral Act says there's nothing stopping Labour placing Ratana candidates high on its list ... except the potentially hostile reaction of other groups in the party.

Andrew Geddis from Otago University's law faculty says it could be extremely divisive.

“Labour would have to follow the list selection process laid down in its constitution but that list selection process is always heavily influenced by what the leadership of he party wants and so if the leadership really really wanted to go through with this, they could but then they of course have to balance picking some from Ratana with all the other groups that want representation in parliament as well,” Mr Geddis says.

Labour gave high list positions to the Maori MPs, including two from Ratana, who supported it through the Foreshore and Seabed Act debate.

A tobacco researcher says Maori communities need to stop condoning pregnant Maori women who keep smoking.

Marewa Glover from the Auckland Tobacco Control Research Centre says almost one in two Maori women smoke, leading to a death rate from lung cancer more than four times the non-Maori rate.

She says among pregnant women it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth-weight, sudden unexpected death in infancy and respiratory illness.

Dr Glover says Maori women aren't getting the message.

“It's okay in Maori communities. We’re not ostracizing smokers. We’re not saying it’s not okay. We’re not giving them a hard time. There’s still all the aroha, the manaaki, we’re including them, it’s okay, they’re not getting the hard line,” Dr Glover says.


The kaumatua for Waitangi Marae is disappointed the Maori king is skipping this year's treaty commemoration in the Bay of Islands.

King Tuheitia will instead attend the Taniwha Marae poukai at Te Kauwhata.
Kingi Taurua says Tainui's involvement last year gave the event a special significance, and reminded people of the importance of the nation's founding document to all Maori.

“I certainly would make the Treaty of Waitangi Commemoration the most important part of my responsibility if I was a king,” Mr Taurua says.

A spokesman for the King, Tom Roa, says the decision not to attend Waitangi Day was announced at the last year's coronation hui.


The Greens say a low minimum wage means the country's poorest people are subsidising big business.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says far too many Maori are among the 450,000 New Zealanders earning less than $15 an hour.

That's the level the Greens want the minimum wage set.

She says the biggest employers like supermarkets can afford to pay more than the minimum wage, but currently their workers on the minimum have to get access to Working for Families or Work and Income subsidies in order to live.

She says boosting the minimum wage would save a billion dollars a year in welfare.


The East Coast is again a star of a Maori movie making waves offshore.
Taika Waititi's second full length feature, Boy, is enjoying sell out crowds at its premiere run at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

The film, which grew out of Waititi's award winning short film Two Cars One Night, was filmed around Waipiro Bay.

NZ Film sales manager James Thompson, who is in Sundance, says media and industry people have been lining up after screenings to ask him not only about the film but about the location.

HE is confident the film will find a North American distributor, even though this year's Sundance has been slow for sales.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Key smile hiding extremist agenda says Green

Green co-leader Metiria Turei says the smiling face of Prime Minister John Key is being used to push through an extremist right wing agenda which is hurting Maori.

Ms Turei says ACT rather than National seems to be setting the Government's agenda.

She says backing for ACT's three strikes bill as a response to crime is just the latest example.

“Government is under no obligation to support that legislation but they are going to anyway. ACTR is completely dismantling Auckland city councils and shut Maori out of that process. ACT will probably get a fair amount of its extremist economic policy through because National’s philosophy is geared to that way,” Ms Turei says.

She says it's clear ACT has far much more influence in government than the Maori Party.


Meanwhile, a former New Zealand First MP says ACT's three-strikes policy will be good for Maori.

Ron Mark says his party originally came up with the tougher sentencing policy for violent offenders, which will be included in the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill.

He says low income Maori are the most likely to be affected by violent crime, especially those who have extended whanau with gang links.

“Many of us who are Maori sit in absolute despair watching more and more of our whanaunga slipping down into that trap, that way of life,” Mr Mark says.


An expert on Maori language is praising Hollywood's use of a fictional language based on Maori.

Film director James Cameron has revealed the language spoken by the blue aliens in his hit Avatar is based on the reo he heard during visits to New Zealand.

Hana O'Regan, the dean of Christchurch polytech's Maori faculty Hana O'Regan, says she found the movie had not only Maori but also echoes of Maori tikanga.


A Ratana spokesperson is pitching the movement's current tensions with the Labour Party as a clash between theocracy and meritocracy.

Andre Mason, the son of tumuaki or church head Haare Meihana, is leading a push for Labour to give high list placings to four Ratana-endorsed candidates.

Under the Electoral Act Party lists must be determined by a democratic process.

Mr Mason says the Tumuaki is particularly upset at Labour's treatment of his other son, Errol Mason, who has twice failed to unseat the Maori Party's Tariana Turia in Te tai Hauauru.

“The Tumuaki was wanting them... He didn’t want to tell them what to do but at least think abut that, that they would put his son high on the list, to have him in there so he could see and learn what is happening today with our people,” Mr Mason says.

He rejected criticism from Labour MP Shane Jones that Ratana spokespeople are confusing their religious and political roles, because he says the movement has always had that dual character.


Shane Jones agrees Labour's relationship with Ratana needs to change.

The Northland-based list MP says Labour is respectful of the relationship formed in the 1930s with church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

But he says both Maori and Labour have changed, and such pacts need to be interpreted in the context of each generation.

“When you look at a relationship, you are always searching for ways how can it be bolstered, how can it enjoy meaning in the lives of people in the political world who may only be voting in a few years time for the first time or who may have issues that are vastly different than the ways Maori communities functioned in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s,” Mr Jones says.

He says Labour won't be dictated to by church members running political agendas.


Taika Waititi's second feature film is attracting sell out audiences at the prestigeous Sundance independent film festival in Utah.

James Thompson, the sales manager for the New Zealand Film Commission, says Boy extends some of the characters and ideas from Waititi's award winning short film Two Cars One Night.

It's set in the 1980s on the East Coast, and Mr Thompson says it's one of the films everyone at the festival is talking about.

“The audience reaction has been fantastic. They’ve absolutely fallen in love with James Rolleston, who plays Boy. It’s been really warmly received and I think everyone here has been really appreciative of a really truly New Zealand film in a really true New Zealand setting,” Mr Thompson says.

The reaction is a tribute not only to Taika Waititi, who wrote, directed and acted in the film, but to the producer who include Cliff Curtis, Ainsley Gardiner, Emanuel Michael and Mereta Mita.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Maori Party and Labour clash over Ratana rebuke

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the Labour Party is out of touch with its ally of 78 years, the Ratana Church.

Labour and Maori Party MPs were Ratana Pa yesterday to join the annual celebrations of the birth of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Mrs Turia says speakers were right to challenge Labour leader Phil Goff on whether the morehu or church members have benefited from their decades of loyal support.

“The families who I know around the country, morehu families, most of them continue to live in poverty today. Now I get tired of any politician, it doesn’t matter what party, going out to the pa to tell the people how much they’ve done for them when in reality in their daily lives there’s been no improvement at all,” Mrs Turia says.


But Labour MP Shane Jones says a Ratana kai korero over-stepped the mark by using the powhiri to score political points.

Kelly Pene spoke admiringly of Prime Minister John Key and criticised Labour's record on delivery to Maori and the movement.

Mr Jones says Mr Pene's speech had none of the style or class of an older generation of Ratana speakers, such as former Western Maori MP Koro Wetere or the late Paihere Brown.

“You treated the powhiri as an opportunity to receive your manuhiri, recite history, talk about the future etc, but it is not an opportunity for open season duck shooting. Well I ain’t no duck and I think it was a timely reminder that unless you are going to you are going maintain a certain quality of customary hospitality they you have to expect a fairly rancorous response,” Mr Jones says.

He says response to his speech from ordinary morehu on the marae was overwhelmingly positive.


Kohanga reo pioneer Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi is celebrating a United Nations report praising the Maori language early childhood network.

The Unesco report on education for indigenous people around the world said kohanga reo's ethos of self-help and commitment to continuity across generations has inspired young parents and demonstrated how revitalising language has educational and social benefits.

Dame Iritana says it's a boost for the families who started Kohanga Reo 28 years ago.

She says other indigenous peoples have embraced the kohanga system to revitalise their own languages.


Flaxmere residents have threatened to picket the construction site if a proposed Corrections Department facility in the Hawkes Bay town does ahead.

Hastings District councillor Henare O Keefe, who organised a protest at the site this morning, says more than 100 residents turned out to voice their disaproval at having a work centre in the village, which is one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in the country.

Mr O Keefe says today’s Mums and Dads protest sends a strong message to the Corrections Department.

He says they will fight it to the bitter end, even to lying down in front of bulldozers, and Corrections should find another site.


One of the country's largest trade unions says Maori need to pressure the government to up the minimum wage.

Robert Reid, the general secretary of the National Distribution Union, says Maori are over-represented in the poorest paid occupations, with many on the minimum wage of $12.50 an hour.

Unions want it raised to $15.

Mr Reid says the whole country will benefit.

“The government should see putting the minimum wage up as a key component not only a social justice issue on wages but also a key component of actually increasing spending from ordinary people and therefore increasing employment,” Mr Reid says.


There was a lot of old Maori wisdom involved in Saturday's surprise win by Vonusti to a win in the million dollar Telegraph Handicap at Trentham.

The five year old was trained by former Maori All Black Tim Carter and wife Margaret and ridden by veteran Noel Harris, regarded as the kaumatua of Maori jockeys.

Mr Carter, who has had only modest success as a trainer before Saturday's big race, was thrilled to have been part of a winning Maori double act.

Common approach to geothermal development

Te Arawa landowners have formed a working party to coordinate development of their geothermal resources.

Working party secretary Willie Te Aho says there is potential for up to 400 megawatts of generation on Maori land from Rotoiti through to just north of Taupo.

A hui last week heard from Contact Energy, Mighty River Power and from Tuaropaki Trust, which has a geothermal plant on its land.

Mr Te Aho says a unified approach is needed to get the most out of the taonga, taking a lead role protecting and developing it.

He says geothermal development could be worth $2 billion to the region.


The Maori Party is shaping up for a fight with its coalition partners over penal policy.

Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have expressed alarm over the ACT-driven three strikes legislation the Government intends to introduce.

Mrs Turia says the thrust of the bill is the opposite of the whanau ora approach being pushed by the Maori Party, and National seems uninterested in tackling the causes of offending such as poverty and joblessness.

“If we genuinely want to change the way in which people behave and get them out of that whole thing of criminal offending, we need to look at the family and we need to look at how we can change things for that family so they can participate fully in society,” Mrs Turia says.

She says other countries like the United Kingdom are looking at ways to lower imprisonment rates and involve the community more in corrections.


Maori tourism operators aren't expecting benefits from a new initiative to attract Australian visitors.

The government is sharing $10 million across eight regional tourism organisations to promote themselves across the Tasman.

Kapiti Island lodge operator John Barrett, the chair of the Maori Tourism Council, says most Maori ventures cater to North American, European and Asian visitors.

“The Australian market in the past hasn’t been so interested in cultural product. The Rotorua, Taupo, central North Island region, and maybe Auckland and the Far North, may might do all right out of it, but overall I don’t think there will be a huge amount of benefit for a majority of Maori operators,” Mr Barrett says.

He would like tourism minister John Key to set aside funds to promote Maori tourism products.


The organiser of last year's anti-crime protest by Flaxmere residents is expecting a big turnout at this morning's protest against a proposed work centre in the Hawkes Bay town.

Hastings District councillor Henare O'Keefe says residents don't want the Corrections Department facility in the middle of their shopping centre.

He says residents feel the strongly-Maori community is being used as a dumping ground.

Henare Kingi says the Corrections Department has a community work centre only four kilometers away in Hastings.


Meanwhile, associate corrections minister Pita Sharples fears the Government's planned three strikes law will draw resources away from his planned Maori-centered rehabilitation centres.

The Maori Party co-leader says even though National has watered down some of ACT's original proposals, the bill is a major victory for Rodney Hide's party.

He says the result will be a silly and unfair law that does nothing to address the causes of offending and will lead to increased strain on the prison system.

“I'm disappointed if the money used on that, if there’s no money available for my rehab centres. Whare Oranga Ake, which is really going to treat recidivism big time, so if you have 32 inmates or prisoners in my centre, next year those 32 will not come back,” Dr Sharples says.

He says it's constitutionally unsound to take such a large amount of sentencing discretion away from the courts.


Toi Maori Aotearoa's annual On the Bus: Maori Storytellers Tour has picked up some hitchhikers.

Apirana Taylor from Ngati Porou and Te Whanau-Apanui and Karl Teariki, who has Ngati Kahungunu, Rarotongan and Tahitian heritage, will be joined on their hikoi through Tai Tokerau next month by Sharon Shorty and Duane Ghastant' Aucoin from the Tlingit nation of Canada's northwest.

Tour organiser Charlie Holland says Ms Shorty was on the tour five years ago and her stories go down well, especially with younger audiences, and the stories bring across common values between Maori and other first nations.

The On the Bus tour starts in Kerikeri the day after Waitangi Day with a one-off showing of a film by Mr Aucoin.