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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, January 28, 2011

Asset sale plan historic amnesia

The Council of Trade Unions' Maori vice president, Syd Kepa, says iwi leaders backing National's plan to sell state assets are forgetting the lessons of history.

Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says while previous privatisations such as New Zealand Rail were poorly handled, John Key's proposal is a new chapter.

But Mr Kepa says assets sales were disastrous for Maori, and some communities still haven't recovered.

“Places like Murupara and Kaingaroa and particularly out in those areas where where we had all those sawmills and stuff, it was a hive of activity. You go there now, gangs and everything else. That’s what asset sales will breed,” he says.


The chair of Auckland city's Maori statutory board says members are aware they could lose their right to vote on council subcommittees if they don't act responsibly.

David Taipari from Ngati Maru says while the implications of the legislation may have taken MPs by surprise, the tangata whenua and mata waka representatives on the board were always aware of the opportunity for greater Maori participation.

He says it reflects the greater role the region's iwi expect to play in civic affairs.

“With the upcoming treaty settlements of the area it’s a very important matter and if we can be seen to be working together at genuine level then I can see the natural progression of those treaty settlements benefiting the region as a whole,” Mr Taipari says.

He says board members are appointed for three years, so their performance will be taken into account when it comes time for reappointment.


Labour MP Shane Jones says the Maori Party thinks the Maori seats are theirs by right because of their name.

Mr Jones says he aims to challenge that by seeking Labour's nomination to stand against Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau.

He says anger against Labour over the foreshore and seabed has diminished now Maori see what a hash the Maori Party has made of the issue, and state asset sales will also count against Dr Sharples.

“I think what we’re going to find, these socioeconomic woes, people concerned about job security, people wondering where on earth an increase in wages is going to come and more importantly, can we continue to sustain our quality of education, health, housing etc without hocking off the family silver,” Mr Jones says.

He says 48 percent of those enrolled in the electorate last election did not vote, so getting Labour's supporters to turn out will be the key to success.


Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather is welcoming the appointment of long-time director Wayne Walden to the board of TVNZ.

Mr Walden from Ngati Kahu is a former managing director of retailer Farmers Deka and former chair of Tranzrail.

Mr Mather says he has long argued for closer co-operation between Maori broadcasters, including a single Maori production unit servicing multiple media outlets.

He says Mr Walden could facilitate this in his new role.

“He will be able to identify areas where the two publicly-funded television broadcasters could possibly be more closely aligned and that may be one of the many benefits that both Maori Television and TVNZ see from Wayne going across to the board of TVNZ,” Mr Mather says.

He does not see a risk of Mr Walden taking secrets to what is essentially a competitor when he joins TVNZ in May.


Green's co-leader Metiria Turei says the sale of state assets runs counter to Treaty of Waitangi principles.

Ms Turei says National's plan ignores the successful treaty-based challenge Maori mounted against asset sales of the 1980s.

She says the Government is trying to turn the clock back.

“There is that same sense of Maori again being without the control or involved in the decision making about what happens to the property that belongs in our own country and from a family point of view, a whanau point of view, it will mean increased power prices,” she says.

Ms Turei says selling state assets is economic insanity.


The story of the forest god Tane and Rehua, the star of summer, is being retold in an installation opening at the Mangere Arts Centre Nga Tohu o Uenuku tonight.

Tu te manu ora i te Rangi is a collaborative work between Hemi Macgregor, Ngataiharuru Taepa and Saffron Te Ratana, which was first shown in 2008 at the Thermostat Art Gallery in Palmerston North.

Mr McGregor, from Ngati Rakaipaaka and Ngai Tuhoe, says the centrepiece of the show, a star on the ceiling linked by hairs to the ground, is a new way of using ancient knowledge.

“From Tuhoe the story goes that in the reacquaintance between Tane and Rehua, Rehua’s gift to Tane was the tui for kai and it was the letting down of his hair and the freeing of the tui that fed off the kutu that lived on his dead. The visuals of the work their, the image of the star and the letting down of the hair,” he says.


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