Waatea News Update

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Maori Party balks at worker slap-down

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell says the Maori Party will oppose any move by the government moves to give larger firms the power to put new staff on 90 day probation.
The Prime Minister, John Key, is expected to announce a part of a raft of changes to workplace laws in a speech to the National Party conference in Auckland on Sunday.

Mr Flavell says when National gave employers in firms with under 20 staff the right to lay off staff in the first three months without explanation, the Maori Party hoped it would mean more companies would give young Maori workers a start.

“It hasn't achieved that goal because the unemployment for Maori remains still very high and in fact it’s increased over the two years that the bill’s been place so in that regard you might say maybe the Maori people have been the cannon fodder for this particular bill and therefore we cannot not oppose it because it hasn’t achieved the goal we want and that is to get our people into work,” Mr Flavell says.


The Minister of Social Development says a new supervised group home for troubled youth will try to help help rangatahi with their Maori connections.

The home which opened in Mangere this morning is the first of 12 and will house up to five young people from 12 to 17 for up to six months.

Its professional live-in staff include youth workers, psychologists and social workers.

Paula Bennett says it's probable many of those referred to the homes will be Maori, even if their understanding of Maoritanga is limited

“Sometimes they do need to be away from whanau a bit to try and get them selves together and work how they are going to work with some of that behaviour problems they’ve got. There’s strong links with kaumatua and our staff are Maori predominantly and it’s important for us they maintain that connection and strengthen it because in some case that’s what’s led to that behaviour, that they’ve lost that connection to whanau,” Ms Bennett says.


The author of a book on early Maori Anglican churches says the early collaborations between missionaries and their congregations provided a template for the later wharenui or large meeting house.

Dr Richard Sundt from the University of Oregon is in New Zealand to launch his book Whare Karakia: Maori Church Building Decoration and Ritual in Aotearoa New Zealand.

He says Rangiatea in Otaki, which has been rebuilt after being totally destroyed by fire, is indicative of the monumental structures built all over New Zealand soon after the treaty.

“It was really exciting moment where they were pressing the structural issues and the technology to build these and some people like Hirini Moko Mead and Roger Neich have seen in these large whare-style churches of the 1840s to 1860s setting the ground for the larger meeting houses that were built in the late 19th century like Hokonio, Tokangaui a Noho,” Professor Sundt says.

Whare Karakia is published by Auckland University Press


Unite Union head Matt McCarten says John Key is picking a fight with Maori if he thinks he can make their job security even more tenuous.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce a raft of industrial law changes to the National Party conference in Auckland on Sunday, including further restrictions on union access to workplaces and extending the 90-day probationary period for new workers to firms with over 20 staff.

Mr McCarten says that could create greater uncertainty for the many Maori who work in seasonal industries.

He says it's the biggest threat to workers' rights since National's Employment Contracts Act in 1991.

“Our lessons learnt. Whenever the Tories come after the workers, we’ve got to fight back. When unions have fought back, it’s been Maori who have led it. And this is the time for Maori now to step up and be there at 10.30 on Sunday outside Sky City, because we are gong to be there, and we will have it on,” Mr McCarten says.


A director of Maori investment company Fomana Capital says companies involved in the controversial Tekau Plus scheme are continuing to work on growing their export capacity, despite the scheme being suspended.

Until questions were raised about value for money and governance issues, Fomana was being paid by Te Puni Kokiri to help Maori businesses work out how they could boost their exports to more than $10 million each over the next decade.

Paul Morgan says that kaupapa is more important than short term politics.

“The business goes on. The business hasn’t stopped. They’re put there doing their events together, they’re negotiating sales and they’re investing in market promotions. Our next big one’s going to be Shanghai in September and we’ve got a whole host of preparatory work to do to put the programme together,” he says.

Mr Morgan and fellow director Wayne Mulligan have now bought the Federation of Maori Authority's shares in Fomana and severed its connection with the parent organisation.


Academic Rawiri Taonui is calling for a truth and reconciliation commission to turn the spotlight back on Maori historical grievances.

Mr Taonui, the head of Maori and ethnic studies at Canterbury University, will tell the Psychological Society's annual conference in Rotorua this weekend that New Zealand continues to suffer from historical amnesia.

He says similar commissions in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and some South American countries have allowed people to deal with their history and move on.

“The Waitangi Tribunal was in a sense akin to a forum like that, it airs Maori grievances, but it has no public profile. A lot of things that are said before the tribunal never really make their way out into the mainstream,” Mr Taonui says.

He says anyone who speaks the truth about genocide and historical trauma in New Zealand, like Maori Party MP Tariana Turia, can expect a backlash.

Constitutional discussion kicks off in Taranaki

A manager with the Human Rights Commission says Taranaki is the right place to kick of a discussion about the future of New Zealand's constitution.

TeHuia Bill Hamilton chaired the public forum at Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth last night looking at where the current exhibition on the Taranaki War could lead to.

National agreed to a constitutional debate as part of the price of the Maori Party's support, and Mr Hamilton says Taranaki's history illustrates so many of the things that went wrong, even before the war of 1860.

“The whole kaupapa was based on looking back to go forward, to bring the stories of Taranaki that are based around Puke Ariki, to brng them forward and take them into the future, and it’s based on human rights, the treaty and the Taranaki story and then it started to begin the constitutional discussion,” Mr Hamilton says.

The exhibition closes in two weeks.


Sportsman turned businessman Tawera Nikau says Maori have had to put up with inappropriate and substandard housing for too long.

He and former Kiwi league captain Ritchie Barnett yesterday launched Maia Homes, which they say will work with iwi and hapu to design environmentally conscious homes.

It's a subsidiary of their building firm Aotearoa Construction.

Mr Nikau says different areas suit different types of houses, which haven't been available.

“In Tuhoe we know it’s very wet and it rains down there so we’ve got to have new construction methods that can cater to weather needs. Ngati Porou down the coast, a lot of beautiful sun but also a lot of salt. You’ve got to use the materials for those regions and for some of the stuff we are designing,” he says.

Maia Homes opened a show home at Whakatane this week.


The first major survey of Ngai Tahu taonga and art has opened at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

Mo Tatou - Ngai Tahu Whanui graced Te Papa for three years, and it's now on its Te Hokinga Mai return home tour, which has already included four months at Canterbury Museum.

Jane Davis, a kaumatua from Ngai Tahu's Oraka Aparima Runanga of Ngai Tahu says people at the dawn opening were struck by the beauty of the pieces.

Mo Tatou is accompanies by Mo Nga Uri, a show of work by contemporary Murihiku artists including Hana Morgan and Lowana Clearwater.


A director of Fomana Capital says the company is continuing to work with Maori exporters, despite severing its connection with the Federation of Maori Authorities.

FOMA sold its majority shareholding to directors Paul Morgan and Wayne Mulligan in the wake of controversy over whether Tekau Plus, a Te Puni Kokiri-funded export development scheme run by Fomana, was delivering value for money.

Mr Morgan, a former FOMA executive, says through Fomona, Maori producers are able to work with large customers like supermarket chains which are looking for consistent suppliers of food and beverage.

“They want a number of things obviously; quality product, they want assurances in terms of the human compliance, consumption issues, they want to know you can deliver on time and they want to know that you are price competitive. And that is the world that Maori businesses are pushing into. We’re farmers, we’ve been farmers for over 100 yeas, now we have to take our product and add value to it in the processing and we’ve got to brand and market it,” Mr Morgan says.

Fomana is finalising plans for a Maori trade mission to the Shanghai Expo in September.


Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell is congratulating the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, iwi and an Ohiwa Harbour landowner for working together to preserve an important historical site.

The council has bought a six hectare block above the harbour which contains Onekawa Pa, one of the earliest settlement sites in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

Mr Flavell says landowner Pauline Tucks could have sold to the highest bidder, but instead contacted the District Council and from Upokohere and Whakatohea.

He says that ensured it did not go into foreign hands.

Te Ururoa Flavell.

The block adjoins an existing council property which contains Te Mawhai Pa


The newest bridge across the Waikato River has been built without piers in the water out of respect for Maori beliefs.

Project manager Andrew McRae from Fulton Hogan says that makes the bridge on the East Taupo Arterial route the longest network arch bridge in the country, at 100 metres.

He says tangata whenua made it clear they didn't want the river's mauri or life force interfered with, and despite a slight increase in cost, the engineers are pleased with the outcome.

“In some ways it helped simplify some of the construction requirements because working in a river channel like the Waikato at that particular location, there’s some concerns any how,” Mr McRae says.

There will be a formal Maori blessing for the bridge when the 16 kilometer is completed in October.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Horomia backing land sale ban bill idea

Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson Parekura Horomia is promising to support any bill to ban the sale of land to foreigners.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says he's considering drafting such a bill in response to the attempt by a Hong Kong company to buy the Crafar dairy farm empire from its receivers.

Mr Horomia says it's an idea worthy of serious consideration.

“Hone has to be careful he doesn’t again say he will do this and it doesn’t happen, like the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, but certainly the genesis of his bill is something I'm supportive of,” Mr Horomia says.

He says Maori have consistently opposed the sale of land to foreigners, and it's good to see other New Zealanders catching up.


The tobacco specialist at Maori heart foundation Te Hotu Manawa Maori has welcomed a new survey showing a steady decline in the number of Maori teen girls who are smoking.

The ongoing survey by Action on Smoking and Health found just 18 percent of Maori 14 and 15 year old girls smoke daily, half the rate a decade ago.

Warren Moetara says while that's still the highest rate of smoking among young people, it's a sign the campaigns are working.

He says making smokers feel social outcasts is not the Maori way and other ways need to be found to help them quit.


An exhibition at New Plymouth's Puke Ariki marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Taranaki Wars is drawing to a close, with more than 20-thousand people having passed through its doors.

Jocelyn Millard of Ngati Maru ki Taranaki, the museum's iwi liaison, says many Taranaki residents say it's the first time they have been able to understand issues like the perpetual leases which replaced the initial post-war land confiscations.

She says as well as fixed exhibits, the Our Legacy Our Challenge show included about 40 public events, in which the audience has been engaged in the discussion about the legacy and the future 150 years after the wars.

The Taranaki War 1860-2010 exhibition ends on August 1.


The Department of Conservation is defending its decision to hold a public memorial service Moko the bottlenosed dolphin in Whakatane, rather than at Matakana where he died or Mahia where he spent most of his time in the public eye.

Area manager Andrew Baucke says after tomorrow's service, the dolphin's body will be taken to Matakana for a private burial by Ngai Te rangi.

He says that iwi was given the final say, rather than the hapu at Mahia which named the Moko.

“We recognise that Ngaiterangi have kaitiaki for moko as he died on Matakana beach and that’s been the principle behind us support Ngaiterangi to bring him back to Matakana island,” Mr Baucke says.

DOC rejected a compromise suggestion from the Mahia marae committee that Moko be cremated and his ashes shared.


It's been a memorable afternoon for Tamahou Temara, the operations manager for Toi Maori.

He's been aboard a double hulled waka hourua on its sea trial across Wellington Harbour prior to its launch at Te Papa tomorrow morning.

Mr Temara says the fibreglass covered macrocarpa waka is a testament to the skills of its leader carver, Takirirangi Smith, who is also responsible for the whakairo on Victoria University's Te Heranga Waka marae.

“It's been one of his lifelong dreams to build a waka hourua. He’s also had the pleasure of working with Hector (Busby) building various waka. This is his latest project which he started 5 years ago, and It was only 4pm we placed it in the water,” Mr Temara says.

The waka hourua will be officially launched and names at Te Papa at 11 tomorrow morning.


A Whanganui chef is putting the finishing touches to a sumptuous hakari to acknowledge the Maori new year.

Alvin Ponga says 120 people are booked in to the Whanganui polytechnic tonight for a four-course feast featuring watercress, pikopiko, rewana crostini, titi or muttonbirds and kamokamo and paua pickle.

Because the Matariki cluster isn't visible in Whanganui, it's called the puanga kai night in reference to the star that marks the new year for Atihau a Paparangi.

Mr Ponga says his biggest challenge was harvesting the ingredients.

“Lucky with the help of all our whanau in Whanganui I’ve been able to find al the ingredients. We have a wonderful ngahere here so I was able to find all the fresh herbs that we need,” Mr Ponga says.

Treaty process needs rethink

A lawyer involved in Waitangi Tribunal claims says the country needs to rethink what it's expecting out of the treaty settlement process.

Annette Sykes from Ngati Pikiao chaired a forum at Waitakere last night looking at the impact of treaty settlements on the Maori economy.

She says the Matariki event was a chance look beyond the day to day struggles towards a broader vision of what communities can look like in the future ... and how Maori will fit in places like the Auckland super city.

“Matariki is a new season, a new life and I really believe that the treaty relationships are in need of a bolstering because frankly the National Party has tried to manage those and reduce the significance for us as Maori,” Ms Sykes says.


MP Meteria Turei says today's Maori MPs still see Sir Apirana Ngata, who died 60 years ago, as a role model.

Ngata held the Eastern Maori seat from 1905 to 1943, and used it to secure resources for revitalising the Maori culture, rebuilding marae, and bringing Maori together to develop their land.

The Green's co-leader says every day she feels she is riding on the shoulders of the Maori leaders who came before, and whose pictures hand in parliament's corridors ... like Ngata, Maui Pomare, James Carroll and Matiu Rata.

“Being Maori in parliament remains difficult. It’s still not an environemnt that is supportive of Maori, Maori MPs and tikanga Maori. I can feel the struggle that they must have had so many years ago to be recognized and to achieve for their people there,” Ms Turei says.


Ngati Hine Radio boss Mike Kake says his station's radio training course could be the start of not just radio but television careers for Northland rangatahi.

The two-week course is giving 10 students with te reo Maori skills a foundation in radio work, including news writing, voice training, advertising copywriting and other trade crafts.

Mr Kake says the course is needed to replenish the pool of talent the station can draw on, as people move on in their careers ... like television regulars Shane Milne and Mana Epiha.

“They've all come from a strong radio background and if you go into the Pakeha media and look at Paul Holmes and others and radio seems to be the ground they break or get those basic skills and then move on. For us, there was this pool that was emptying out at our end. It’s great that we lose them but we need to replenish the puna,” he says.


Mau Piailug, who taught Maori the art of traditional Polynesian navigation, has died on his home island of Satawal in Micronesia.

Mr Pialug piloted the Hokule'a from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976, and later taught waster waka builder Hekenukumai Busby how to navigate Te Aurere by the stars from Rarotonga to Aotearoa.

Mr Busby says keeping the knowledge alive meant breaking the rules against sharing it with outsiders.

He says Mr Pialug feared his own people would forget about celestial navigation, in the same way Maori lost it.


South Auckland-based Ngai Tai want a continued ban on gathering cockles from Umupuia or Duder's Beach near Maraetai.

Spokesperson Laurie Beamish says a rahui placed on the beach two years ago has been widely supported by the public, and has managed to halt a catastrophic decline in cockle numbers.

But he says the shellfish are still small and need more time to recover.

“We had become the most heavily-picked cockle beach in Aotearoa with immigrant groups and expanding population in these South Auckland area, especially round Flatbush. We knew that id we didn’t at least address it so at least we kept the taonga for our mokopuna, it would be gone forever,” Mr Beamish says.

He says if the Ministry of Fisheries doesn't have enough fisheries officers to police the rahui, the iwi is happy to do the job.


There's controversy in the kapa haka world with the effective disqualification of one of the teams to represent the Auckland region in the national te Matatini championships next year.

Te Taha Tu pulled out this week after it was discovered that one of its members had also performed with a group in the South Island competition.

That means Porou Ariki, a roopu made up of Ngati Porou members living in Tamaki Makauru, will go through to Gisborne in February.

Porou Ariki had been denied a place in the initial six because it was marked down for allowing a woman to deliver a whaikorero ... that's acceptable under the East Coast tribe's tikanga, but offended a judge from Ngati Whatua.

Porou Ariki tutor Barry Souter says no one in the club is commenting, because of sensitivity towards Te Taha Tu members.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Green warns against arming prejudiced police

Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says arming the police in the wake of yesterday's non-fatal shooting of two police officers in Christchurch could lead to more Maori suspects and even innocent bystanders being killed.

Ms Turei says it's understandable that calls to arm the police follow such incidents.

But she says such decisions should be based on a proper assessment of the benefits and risks ... including the long standing pattern of discrimination shown by higher arrest and prosecution rates for Maori.

“The more you arm the police, the more likely it is that not only offenders be shot and killed, but that innocent people will be shot and killed, and because we know that there is a tendency to focus on Maori offenders, that the police haven’t dealt with all the discriminatory filters within their own systems and personally which means that Maori are more likely to be targeted, then the Maori community is at particular risk,” Ms Turei says.

She says Police Minister Judith Collins, like her predecessors, has never acknowledged the extent of discrimination against Maori by the police


It's sixty years today since politician, lawyer, scholar and Ngati Porou leader Apirana Ngata died, and another Maori lawyer says New Zealand has yet to grapple with the legacy of Apirana Ngata.

Annette Sykes says the man who graces our fifty dollar bill was a complex individual who had an enormous impact on the country during his 38 years in Parliament.

She says as a founding member of the Young Maori Party he entered public life with a kaupapa of advancing Maori aspirations.

“He went on to secure some significant participatory arrangements for Maori in government which I don’t think have been matched, notwithstanding the enormous strides that even the New Zealand First MPs and the Maori Party MPs have made. I believe that was essentially because he was a man of vision steeped in Maori tradition and there were some non-negotiable positions he would not compromise,” Ms Sykes


The World War 2 battle for the Italian town of Monte Cassino which cost the lives of hundred of New Zealand Division and Maori Battalion troops has inspired paintings by artists including Ralph Hotere, and now come the poems.

Cassino: City of Martyrs by Robert Sullivan of Ngapuhi and Ngai Tahu has just been published by Huia.

He says the poems, which he wrote while teaching in Hawaii, steer clear of notions of nationhood or the price of citizenship and try instead to focus on the emotional cost of the battles his relatives fought in.

“Sitting in the park underneath that massive mountain and just looking up at the abbey which has been restored now and appreciating the task our men were given to take that mountain, it was very moving, quite awe inspiring,” Mr Sullivan says.


Ngai Tai ki Umupuia is elated the Environment Court has blocked a Queensland-style canal housing development on the Wairoa River on Auckland's southeastern fringe.

Laurie Beamish, the manager of Ngai Tai Umupuia Te Waka Totara Trust says Ngai Tai traditionally buried its dead between the river's high and low tide marks.

He says putting more than 260 houses along canals bulldozed into the side of the river would have destroyed many urupa.

“The marae and our own people are thrilled that the court decision has seen fit to recognise the exceptional relationship of Ngai Tai to the awa and the fact that the court says it should be recognised as a matter or national importance,” Mr Beamish says.

He says the development did not fit with Manukau City's future development plans which the iwi had consulted on.


Maori tobacco control worker Skye Kimura says anti-smoking campaigns will need to do more with less if they are to reach Maori.

The Government has cut $12 million from anti-smoking advertising, saying the savings will go towards front line services.

Ms Kimura from Midcentral DHB says only 6 percent of the more than $200 million raised by tobacco tax goes on Maori programmes, and that needs to increase.

“We do know that a lot of the plans of DHBs are looking at Maori as a priority. I’d just like to see more money from tax our people are actually spending on cigarettes be reversed so they can support Maori quit attempts,” she says.


The author of a biography of Apirana Ngata says the Ngati Porou politician and scholar laid the foundation for the current Maori economic, cultural and political revivals.

It's 60 years ago today that Ngata died after a lifetime of service that included 38 years as an MP, included several stints as Maori affairs minister.

Ranginui Walker says when he entered Parliament in 1905, Maori were at a low ebb.

As well as encouraging the rebuilding of marae and the preservation of language and culture, Ngata created mechanisms for Maori to consolidate and hold onto their land, which continued after his forced resignation as minister in 1934.

“His achievement was in getting a big chunk of money from the government for his land development scheme which threw out a lifeline to the culture, ‘hey, we can do this, we can get in there and catch up,’ and so he was cut down by the commission of inquiry,” Professor Walker says.

Maori nation call from Maori Party leader

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says Maori need to remember they are a nation in their own right.

The associate health minister is putting the finishing touches on Whanau Ora, which will give up to 20 Maori organisations the responsibility of delivering integrated health, welfare and other government services in their regions.

She says as she's travels the country promoting the scheme she is inspired by Maori who are at the forefront of change in areas like health, justice and education.

"We are a nation in our own right and we must always remember that and hold our own flag high and above our heads so that we don’t lose sight of who we are and begin top come under this brand called a New Zealand becuaae we are Nw Zealanders but first and foremost we are of the Maori nation," Mrs Turia says.

She says it is easy to be blinded by the negative statistics about Maori, and fail to see the large number of Maori who are doing well.


The president of the School Trustees Association says Maori parents are taking an increasing role in managing schools.

Lorraine Kerr says back in 1989 when the Tomorrow's Schools reform put schools in the hands of elected boards of trustees, there were very few Maori involved in governance.

She says that's changed, as was shown at this year's annual conference in Christchurch, where there were much larger numbers of Maori and Pacific parents than even 10 years ago.

She says it's not just Maori medium schools but mainstream schools where Maori parents are standing for election.


A new carving school in Lyttelton is looking forward to being in business for the long haul.

Head tutor Caine Tauwhare says the Whakaraupo Carving Centre is the realisation of his Aunty Sissy's 30 year dream to establish a focal point for mahi whakairo in the South Island.

He says the first 12 students started on Community Max, and all have now returned for stage 2 despite having to take a pay cut because of a change in funding.

He says there ahs been strong support from the community, and positive feedback.


The Mahia Maori Committee is pushing for remains of Moko the dolphin returned to the east coast settlement.

The bottle-nosed dolphin found dead on Matakana Island in the Bay of Plenty last week, and its remains have been autopsied at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Committee spokesperson Wiremu Blake says Moko was named after Mokotaia beach where he first started inter-acting with bathers and boats, and he spent several years in the waters around Mahia peninsula.

There is also interest in Moko from Whakatane and Te Papa museum in Wellington, with the Ministry of Conservation having the final say.

He says if the dolphin is created, some of his ashes could be returned to be places in a monument outside the Mahia fishing club at Mokotaia.

Planning for a sculpture of Moko is under way.


The Institute of Public Aministration has given a joint award to Taupo District Council and the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board for the way tangata whenua have been given a voice in council affairs.

Dylan Tahou, the council's strategic relationships manager, says about 60 percent of the land in the council's boundaries is multiply-owned Maori land.

That means it's vital the parties find ways to work together.

“We now have Maori who are able to suit in their capacity as Tuwharetoa representatives on the decision-making panels when it comes to Maori resource consents and private plan changes so for tow to three years now we’ve been working through it and starting to get some results,” Mr Tahou says.


Wellington Maori theatre company Taki Rua is putting the finishing touches on a new play to be taken on a nationwide tour of kura kaupapa Maori.

Spokesperson Keryn Jones says writers and actors worked with Maori-speaking rangatahi to come up with something that's a departure from previous productions.

She says Matapihi ki Te Ao will be presented by four actors totally in te reo Maori.

“Generally our work has been text based, script devised, and this year we got our four actors to work with a kura kaupapa and see what the kids were interested in seeing, “ Ms Jones says.

The 10-week Matapihi ki Te Ao tour starts at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Taki Rua opened its 10-day repeat season on David Geary's Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland at Downstage Theatre in Wellington tonight.

Goff confident of Mahuta support

Labour leader Phil Goff says Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta will be competitive against any candidate the Maori Party puts up.

The Maori Party is holding hui this month to select between former Waikato-Tainui chief executive Hemi Rau, retired soldier Tauhuia Bruce Mataki and Housing New Zealand regional manager Pia Searanke.

Mr Goff says he was in the electorate last week with Ms Mahuta, and was struck by the level of support she attracted.

“We're never complacent about these things. You can never take the electorate for granted. But she’s a well respected candidate, she’s experienced, she’s still young, and she’s got good networks throughout the Waikato,” Mr Goff says.


The head of public health at Otago University's Wellington school of medicine says the benefits of removing GST from healthy foods would eventually outweigh the costs.

A panel of experts brought together by the Science Media Centre this morning discussed the Maori Party bill to make such a change, which comes up for first reading next week.

Professor Tony Blakely says a multi-year study, the Supermarket Health Options Project, found people would buy more healthy foods if the price was discounted by the level of the tax.

He says improvements in health will come from the combined actions of government, communities, whanau and individuals.

“Individual choice matters but making healthy choices is a lot easier when you’ve got food that’s affordable to purchase. We’ve had a 20 percent increase in the cost of purchasing groceries in the past three years and no real increase in people’s wages after inflation. A 15 percent reduction in cost for healthy food for low income families would be welcomed,” Professor Blakely says.


An expert in indigenous and eco-tourism believes Maori and Australian Aboriginal operators should work together to promote themselves internationally.
Tony Charters, who judged New Zealand entrants in the Tourism for Tomorrow awards, convened a conference in Brisbane last week looking at the future of tourism in the region.

He says visitors down under want to see both Maori and Aboriginal culture, not one or the other.

“Australia can never present what New Zealand presents and vice versa and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for Australia and New Zealand to start acting more complementary to each other because if you talk to people from the Northern Hemisphere, when they talk about coming Downunder, they’re not talking abut coming to Australia They’re talking about coming to Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Charters says.

He says Tourism for Tomorrow award winner Whalewatch Kaikoura has been advising Aboriginal groups on development prospects.


A Kaitaia GP expects a screening programme starting next week in the Far North will turn up at least 20 new cases of undiagnosed heart disease among Maori children.

Lance O'Sullivan says a team from Greenlane Paediatric Services will test 600 children.

He says similar scanning programmes in South Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and East Coast have identified heart damage caused by bouts of rheumatic fever, which is associated with over-crowded and poor quality housing.

“The rates we see of rheumatic heart disease among our communities are rates you see in third world and developing communities. We currently have 36 children on our register here on the programme for treatment with rheumatic fever, 35 are Maori,” Dr O'Sullivan says.


The general manager of Nelson-based Wakatu Incorporation says whanaungatanga or family relationships are as important in modern Maori business as it was in traditional times.

Ropata Taylor, from Ngati Rarua and Te Atiawa, says Wakatu is a long term conservative investor.

Over the past 30 years it has grown its asset base from $11 million to $250 million through investment in horticulture, property, seafood and tourism businesses.

He says it also works with other like-minded Maori organisations such as the major Taranaki land incorporation Paraninihi ki Waitotara, with whom it has a crayfish joint venture out of its Wellington subsidiary Port Nicholson Fisheries.

Mr Taylor is a panelist in tonight's forum on Maori business success at the Waitakere City Council Chambers.


The controversial 1895 lecture tour of Aotearoa by American writer Samuel Clements, better known as Mark Twain, comes under the spotlight this week at Downstage theatre in Wellington.

Taki Rua's production of Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland is back for a repeat and revised season, after a run at the New Zealand Arts Festival earlier this year

Artistic director for Wellington James Ashcroft says writer David Geary was inspired by the story of Twain calling for a monument in Whanganui which honoured Maori who fought on the side of the Crown, to be destroyed, because it encouraged Maori to become traitors to their own race.

“I thought it was a fictitious premises that David had come up with, but then he showed me his research, and truth is stranger than fiction,” Mr Ashcroft says.

Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland starts tomorrow and runs until July 24

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Parata pep talk gets trustees buzzing

The president of the School Trustees Association, Lorraine Kerr, says trustees are taking to heart a call to do something about Maori being ripped off by the education system.

Apryll Parata, the Education Ministry's deputy secretary for Maori education, told the association's annual conference on the weekend that there would be widespread outrage if half of all Pakeha children were being failed by the system.

She said trustees should make principals and teachers address the issue of Maori underachievement.

Ms Kerr, from Ngati Awa and Tuwharetoa says trustees have been talking for years about the under-achievers.

“The bulk of them are Maori and we’ve known that for ages and she helped them make the connection that these children will not go away, we cannot afford to forget who they are or put them in the back of the room or put them in a corner because they also come out at the other end in terms of prisons,” Ms Kerr says.

Evaluation forms show conference delegates rated Ms Parata's speech highly.


The retiring head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says MAF's partnerships with Maori landowners is a success story that's gone under the radar.

Murray Sherwin, who retires in November after 9 years as director general, says Crown Forests is a $120 million a year venture run by five public servants managing state-owned trees on Maori land.

While it pays rent, the business now aims to return a commercially viable forestry operation to iwi as soon as possible.

“It's been a very successful operation, mostly under the radar, but we’ve got some very strong relationships, mostly in the North Island with Ngati Tuwharetoa north, and in those cases have run some very smart forestry operations, been able to deliver good returns to iwi and also been able to transfer year by year more of the forest into iwi management and control,” Mr Sherwin says.

While the objective of Crown Forests is to do itself out of a job, its success has meant it keeps getting more work, such as managing Timberlands West Coast.


An Australian tourism expert says many visitors to the land down under go home disappointed at the lack of an indigenous experience.

Tony Charters says Aboriginal operators, and the sector in general, needs to learn from Maori operators.

He says having looked around the country as a judge in New Zealand's Tourism for Tomorrow awards, he was impressed how ventures like Whale Watch Kaikoura are meeting the demand for both eco and indigenous tourism.

Mr Charters says Maori and Aborigines should not compete against each other but can work together to providea complete package for visitors.


Labour's associate education spokesperson, Kelvin Davis, has hit back at a senior Education Ministry official's call for school trustees to address Maori educational under-achievement.

Apryll Parata, the deputy secretary for Maori education, told the School Trustee's Association conference implementing the Ministry's Ka Hikitia Maori education strategy, as well as national standards in reading, writing and maths would help.

But Mr Davis, a former school principal, says instead of bashing teachers, Ms Parata and her minister Anne Tolley should acknowledge the social issues behind the under-achievement.

“Anne Tolley in particular just wants to go out and bash teachers and say it’s the teachers’ fault, it’s the teachers’ problem. She’s getting a few Maori with high profile now to come in and blame the education system, blame schools and I think they are being disingenuous. They need to realise as well it’s not entirely the schools' fault,” Mr Davis says.

He says schools need resources to help their pupils, and Maori families also need support to help their kids educationally.


Maori Rugby legend Bill Bush says it's time for the New Zealand Rugby Football Union to really promote Maori rugby.

He says the boot in mouth performance that cost Andy Haden his role as Rugby World Cup ambassador opens the door for Ngapuhi's Buck Shelford, the only unbeaten All Black captain, to get the job.

He says the Maori team's centenary clean sweep, including two games against international sides, has highlighted the strength of the Maori brand alongside the New Zealand brand ... and needs to be followed up with more overseas fixtures.

“I think they’ll take it on board because it’s a financial problem with them. If we can set up another board to go and look for that finance from sponsorship we could find our own games through places like Spain, Japan, China, the lesser nations that don’t get the experienced sides to go in. We could be that vehicle for the New Zealand Union,” Mr Bush says.


Waitakere City's Maori relationships manager says this year's Tataki Korero event is tinged with sadness as the last Matariki event before Waiitakere becomes part of the super city.

The three night series on sustainable Maori development started last night with a session on entrepreneurship.

Rewi Spraggon says tonight's focus is on iwi-owned businesses, with Ropata Taylor from Nelson's Wakatu Incorporation, Hemi Rau from south Kaipara incorporation Otakanini Topu, Aroha Campbell from Taupo geothermal developers Tauhara North No. 2, and Matene Love from Kia Kaha clothing.

“They're people that have successfully turned businesses around and then on the last night discussion on where are we going with treaty settlements. We’ve got Tahu Potiki, Te Warena Taua, June McNab and who we have got facilitating that panel session is the one and only Annette Sykes so that is going to be exciting on its own,” Mr Spraggon says.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hemi Rau puts name in for Waikato seat

A bitter employment row has spilled from tribal to parliamentary politics, with former Waikato Tainui chief executive Hemi Rau seeking the Maori Party nomination in Hauraki-Waikato.

Waikato-Tainui executive chair Tukoroirangi Morgan told the Maori Party leadership he'd be unhappy if Mr Rau was to become the candidate, given that he has sacked for allegedly bringing the tribe into disrepute by leaking information to the media.

But Mr Rau says the issues around his former job are completely different to who should take on incumbent MP Nanaia Mahuta for the seat.

“Currently the issue is before the employment courts and that is likely to be dealt with prior to the general elections of next year, if I’m successful in getting to that stage. The position that I had with Te Ara taura was that I was appointed through an employment process. The difference with this process is that it’s simply the people have a say, with democracy in place, whether they want you or not,” Mr Rau says.

The first two of five selection hui were held over the weekend, with Maori Party members asked to choose between Mr Rau, former electorate chair Bruce Mataki and Housing New Zealand regional manager Pia Searanke.


Alternative Welfare Working Group member Sue Bradford says Maori will be a top priority as the roopu of church and beneficiary rights groups challenges any radical rewrite of the welfare system.

Ms Bradford says the government group appointed in April to identify the best ways to reduce long-term welfare dependency is out of touch with beneficiaries ... especially the high number who are Maori.

She says the alternative group aims to provide realism and balance when the official report comes out in December.

“All of us are experienced people in different ways and we now damn well that Maori are and always have been disproportionately unemployed and disproportionately on benefits, suffering from mental illness, and also of course solo parents are going to be really affected by what the government is planning which is why the mandating groups, the church groups are very keen to have Maori on this group, which we do,” Ms Bradford says.

The six-member working group includes Bishop Muru Walter, who chairs the Anglican Church's Social Justice Commission, and Mamari Stephens, a lecturer in welfare law at Victoria University.


With South African towns and cities now cleaning up after the Soccer World Cup, Rotorua's 13 marae are looking to tap into next year's Rugby World Cup.

Monty Morrison, Te Arawa's events organiser, says with the sulphur city playing host to 3 international matches during the 6 week extravagaza, some of the thousands of visitors could be accomodated on marae.

He says as well as being an affordable sleeping place for the night, the marae also offers a chance for cultural interaction.

“We're trying to create an environment down here that will not only create excitement but five them an experience. It’s about things we do well as Maori, manaakitanga, tiakitanga,” Mr Morrison says.

Marae representatives will meet next weekend to discuss their plans.


One the eve of announcing who will deliver services under Whanau Ora, the minister in charge says some in the community believe the Social Development Ministry is stifling the programme.

Tariana Turia says the enthusiastic response from packed out hui shows there is an appetite among Maori for new ways to deliver integrated health, welfare, justice and education services.

But the programme will be limited to 20 providers, because that's how many contracts the ministry says it can handle.

“It kind of feels like this is our biggest opportunity ever we’re being stifled really, that’s what our people are telling me,” Mrs Turia says.

She says many Maori providers who have had 20 years experience delivering government services and say they're ready to move if whanau ora contracts are available.

CLARIFICATION: In response to a question about the quality of those who have applied to be Whanau Ora providers, the Minister responded:
“I haven’t seen any of the applications at all but I’ve got no doubt that this is an exceptional opportunity for our people to take back responsibility ourselves, and I know that in Maori and Pacific communities they are so looking forward to this.
“I’m only sad that we can only have 20 sites. It kind of feels that this is our biggest opportunity ever and we’re being stifled, really, that’s what our people are telling me, that they feel there are many that could go.
“We’ve had providers that have been around since the beginning of the ‘90s so they’ve had 20 years of being engaged in each of these social and health sectors, some in education as well as in justice and they’re all ready to move.
“Of course I knew that right from the beginning but part of the problem is the integration of the contracts which is a critical way forward for Whanau Ora and the Ministry of Social Development is saying that they can only do 20 a year. I’m hoping to encourage them to do more than that and see where we get to in the long term but this is our first year. Next year of course we’ll be looking to roll out more."


Otago University researchers say prescription charges are discouraging Maori from picking up medicines, creating long term health effects.

Lead researcher Santosh Jatrana says 14 percent of Maori don't pick up their prescriptions, three times the rate of Pakeha.

She says that defeats other key aims of the health system.

“Without addressing the cost barriers to collecting prescription medication, achieving equal accss to services may not be realized so we need effective information programmes to deduce disparityes in health outcomes for Maori and Pacific, so we need to reduce the cost barriers to buying prescriptions,” Dr Jatrana says.

If people don't take the medicine they are prescribed or take a smaller dose to save money, there health could suffer, leading to more hospitalisaion and increased cost for the health system.


Former All Black and Maori rugby hardman Bill Bush says Buck Shelford would make a great ambassador for next year's Rugby World Cup in place of Andy Haden ... if the Rugby Union can get over its mysterious grudge against him.

Mr Bush says the union has never explained why it dropped the national team's only unbeaten captain, or why he's never coached a national squad.

But even is the Ngapuhi number 8 stepped on some toes at home, he's known around the world.

Indigenous science allows big picture view

A Maori researcher says openness to Maori frames of reference can enrich science.

Maui Hudson from the Environmental Science crown research institute has been attending the Health Research Council’s annual Hui Whakapiripiri, which discussed a new ethical framework for Maori research.

He says like science, matauranga or Maori knowledge is based on a history of observation of the natural world.

“They often talk about the difference between indigenous knowledge and science, how science really tries to get further and further down into what the little parts are and how the little parts work, and indigenous knowledge is a lot about how the system works as a whole and how one part relates to other parts. Sometimes the focus is different, but they are all about describing what’s happening and how people experience the world,” Mr Hudson says.

He says tikanga Maori is not fixed in the past, and can in fact guide Maori on how they can incorporate new things into their lives.


The artistic director of Taki Rua, James Ashcroft, says Maori playwrights and actors have hit a purple patch.

The Wellington based Maori theatre company is about to open a season of David Geary’s play Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland about the celebrated American writer’s controversial 1895 lecture tour to this country.

Mr Ashcroft says there is a growing pool of Maori talent both on stage and behind the scenes, which is drawing in both audiences and more performers.

“I can only see more benefit, especially with Maori graduates coming out of places like Toi Whakaari. And more non-trained performers like we’ve got in four new performers working on our te reo Maori season this year. It’s about giving them the platform, the wares to find their creative voices on stage,” Mr Ashcroft says.


Armchair athletes could get a chance later this year to share Lisa Tamati’s grueling seven-day trek through the Gobi desert.

The Taranaki ultradistance runner is just back from northern China, where she placed second in what’s regarded as one of the world’s toughest races.

One of her first stops was dropping off with a documentary producer the footage shot from her helmet cam during the race.

“My producer’s going to have to have a look at it and see what I’ve come up with but there’s some raw emotion, some big drama stories, spectacular scenery, everything that makes for good documentary I think,” Ms Tamati says.

The death of an American runner of dehydration and heat exhaustion during the sand mountain stage brought home to competitors the risks of the race.


A change in the formula for school funding is unfair on low decile schools with high Maori rolls, according to Kelvin Davis, Labour’s associate education spokesperson.

Operational funding will now be tied to quarterly rather than annual roll counts.

Mr Davis, a former intermediate school, says that means schools won’t have the resources to address the disproportionately high Maori drop-out rate.

“Lower decile schools which tend to be made up of Maori and Pacific Island students have difficulty keeping students towards the end of the year. That means they are gong to lose funding and those are the very schools that should be receiving more funding so that they can implement strategies and be supportive to try to keep those kids at school right through the year,” Mr Davis says.

He says many low income families move during the year because of housing problems, and that affects schools.


The contribution of Maori entrepreneurs to the creative sector will be celebrated at a panel discussion at the Waitakere City Council Chambers in west Auckland tonight.

It’s part of a three-day Matariki event, Nga Korero Tataki, which aims to stimulate debate about sustainable Maori economic development.

Panelist Ella Henry, a business lecturer and broadcaster, says while the traditional Maori economy is still based in the primary sector, the creative industries have attracted many city-based Maori.

She says how they have turned their talent and passion into successful businesses makes for great stories.

“You know this isn’t rocket science. This is believe in yourself, follow your own path, trust your instincts, gather people around you who are honest and clear with you, those are things we have known in management studies for a number of years but we haven’t really had an opportunity to hear Maori stories about those kinds of successes,” Ms Henry says.

Nga Korero Takitaki will also include sessions on creating inter-generational wealth for Maori and the role treaty settlements may play in the new Maori economy.


A contributor to a new collection of te reo Maori songs believes the album has the elements to be picked up by mainstream radio.

Tatou Tatou E, which is released today, features Huia Hamon, Rachael Fraser, Mana Epiha, Jermaine Leef, and Ruia Aperahama singing over beats by Chong Nee.

Ms Hamon says with elements of reggae, organic soul and electronica, it could be the album to bring the language to mainstream youth stations.

Tatou Tatou E 2, also funded by Maori broadcast funding agency Te Mangai Paho, is in the pipeline.