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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Auckland council posts politically untouchable

Maori political commentator Matt McCarten says Labour will have to live with Maori appointees getting voting rights on Auckland city council committees.

Former Auckland mayoral candidate says while Local Government Minister Rodney Hide may not have intended for members of the council's Maori statutory advisory board to join every council subcommittee, that seems to be the effect of his reform.

He says Labour's Auckland spokesperson Phil Twyford has nothing to gain by attacking the loophole, even if he believes it is undemocratic.

“I think now for Labour and or National to try to put legislation up to take that right away from them, there will be no illusions by Maori at all that this is a shafting game. They made the laws. Well now they can live with it,” Mr McCarten says.

Labour voted against all stages of the Auckland super city legislation.


The race relations commissioner Joris de Bres says more needs to be done to remove barriers to social and economic equality.

The Human Rights Commission's latest review of developments in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi includes a number of positives, including Government support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the initialling or siging of a record number of treaty settlements and terms of negotiation, and the flying of a Maori flag on Auckland harbour Bridge on Waitangi day.

But Mr de Bres says New Zealand needs to look closely at its social structures.

“You can't have effective and durable race relations if you have significant and intense racial inequalities. Those have been in fact sharpened by the recession and there has to be a renewed commitment to address those issues. They’re not going to be resolved by coming out of the recession. They need active polices and active programmes,” Mr de Bres says.

The commission's review will help the Government prepare its report this year for the United Nations committee for the elimination of racial discrimination.


A driving force behind a traditional Maori garden in Hamilton says the three year old Te Parapara project is proving immensely satisfying.

Wiremu Puke from Ngati Wairere says the gardens beside the Waikato River gives the public a glimpse of what a pre European garden might have looked like.

It includes native plants, carvings and what he believes is the only pataka or storehouse in the country painted with kokowai or red ochre, rather than the museum red paint that pataka have been covered with for more than a century.

He says Ngati Whare from Minginui supplied rata vines for the lashings and Kiritotara help with thatching the pataka roof with totara bark.

Mr Puke says overseas visitors in particular find a visit to the gardens a rewarding experience.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the Government should admit it made a mistake not having elected Maori seats on the Auckland super city council.

Mr Goff says allowing Maori appointees to put themselves on every Auckland council subcommittee wasn't what Local Government Minister Rodney Hide and Prime Minister John Key thought they were doing when they rejected the Royal Commission's recommendation for Maori seats.

He says the way it was set up means the Maori statutory board doesn't represent most of the Maori who live in the Auckland region.

“Why not have the same rule where Maori people can go out and vote for their representatives on the council rather than a strange system where an elite can appoint people onto the council. I’d rather have people elected as Maori representatives on the council than a system of appointment where you have appointed representatives having the same power as elected representatives. I don’t think that's right,” Mr Goff says.

Labour would allow Maori on the Maori electoral roll to vote for their own councillors.


The Health Sponsorship Council is encouraging Maori parents to give their children breakfast.

Michell Mako, the council's manager of nutrition and physical activity, says too many whanau underestimate the value of a solid meal to start the day.

She says tamariki who arrive at school after a good breakfast are more attentive, retain more information and are better prepared for physical demands than students who arrive hungry.

“A lot of our Maori and Pacfic whanau, they’re not having breakfast in the mornings, our kids are heading off to school with empty pukus, and a guess a lot of our whanau don’t really understand the benefits of having breakfast, they don’t eat breakfast themselves perhaps, and we show parents breakfast eaters have it better,” Ms Mako says.

The Health Sponsorship Council is creating a website for the campaign and will sing the praises of a healthy start to the day on Maori radio stations and bilingual media.


Some of the country's top historians will be kicking up the dust next month at the first ever national conference on the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s.

Speakers include James Belich, Monty Souttar from Ngati Porou, Danny Keenan and Peter Adds from Te Atiawa, as well as international experts on colonial wars.

Organiser Peter Cook the says the name "Tutu to Puehu", meaning kicking up the dust, was chosen because while the Professional Historians Association has held conferences on the overseas wars New Zealand has been involved in, it has never looked at wars on its own soil.

“We've got round perhaps to one of the harder topics, the warfare within our own land. I won’t say we’ve left it to last but it’s certainly one we have been putting off because it’s a difficult topic to approach, there’s a bit more emotionality so it’s one we’ve left but we think it will be the best,” he says.

The conference is at Massey University's Wellington campus from February 11 to 13.


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