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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maori casting vote bizarre creation

Labour list MP Shane Jones says having unelected Maori appointing themselves to every Auckland council subcommittee isn't the representation Maori need on the super city.

The council's Maori advisory board, which includes seven members from Auckland-based iwi and two representing Maori residents from tribes outside the region, has interpreted its statute as giving it two votes on every committee.

Mr Jones, who is seeking the Labour nomination for the Tamaki Makaurau seat, says in rejecting the Royal Commission on Auckland governance's recommendation for elected Maori seats, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide created an extraordinarily undemocratic form of Maori representation.

“It's kind of ironic that Rodney Hide who hated the notion of anything Maori in the super city has created a committee that apparently has the ability to offer a casting vote between the right and left combatants inside the super city. It’s bizarre. The very thing he promised to die over, he’s ended up spawning. Rodney has to account for this,” Mr Jones says.

Labour's Maori caucus will want to see how the Maori appointees can add value to the super city, but its priority remains the creation of seats on the Auckland council elected by Maori on the Maori electoral roll.


A northern elder says the Ngapuhi Runanga has no right to cut short the Waitangi Tribunal and negotiate a settlement for Northland claims.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples have endorsed the runanga's plan for a special body, Te Roopu o Tuhoronuku, to seek the mandate to be the tribe's negotiator.

Ron Wihongi says that's likely to draw a lot of opposition from whanau and hapu.

“There are some here who would like to deal with their own land and do the research but if they have outsiders like the Tuhoronuku group outside our own areas, then we’re going to suffer because they’ve got the mandate, and that's wrong,” Mr Wihongi says.


A South Waikato hapu wants assurances a proposed $120 million milk processing plant at Arapuni won't adversely affect whanau living at Pohara Pa directly across the Waikato River.

Tipene Wilson from Ngati Koroki Kahukura says the hapu is concerned about the visual impact, traffic, noise, and the water requirements of the plant.

He says the hapu wants avoid going through with its Environment Court appeal against the resource consent, but a meeting on Monday with developer Zoagn didn't come up with all the answers it needs.

“The bottom line is even though we’ve been in conversation since October 2009 we’ve yet to see the modeling that will settle our minds that the concerns they claim to have mitigated have been mitigated,” Mr Wilson says.


The Human Rights Commission says significant progress has been made in the past year in dealing with Treaty of Waitangi issues.

In his annual review, race relations commissioner Joris de Bres listed what he called a record number of milestones.

These included support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the whanau ora model for delivery of government services, the announcement of a constitutional review, and a number of treaty settlements with iwi.

Mr de Bres says there are still challenges ahead.

“Amongst those is clearly reaching some kind of closure on the foreshore and seabed, attempting to tackle the social and economic inequalities, trying to get some change in representation in local government which I think is an ongoing issue and wasn’t resolved at the last election,” he says.


A researcher into physical abuse of children in New Zealand says reporters write stories in a racially biased way to satisfy their newspaper bosses and social expectations.

Raema Merchant from the Eastern Institute of Technology went back over eight years of abuse cases and interviewed reporters who covered the stories.

She says they admitted the stories got more space if Maori were involved.

“Journalists kept saying it time and again that some of their reasons for writing what they did was because of newspaper deadlines, it was because of the ideologies their newspaper had, it was because they wrote what they were expected to write but also because it was what the public wanted to hear,” Ms Merchant says.

In the eight years of newspaper coverage she could not find one example where an offender was identified as Pakeha or European.


An expert on pounamu says the use of jade by pre-European Maori was probably more advanced than any other people in the world.

Russell Beck, an Invercargill gemologist, has been recreating ancient methods of chipping and grinding greenstone.

He says because Maori did not have metals such as copper and iron, they developed sophisticated ways of using stone for a wide range of uses.

“Jade of pounamu was the best material for that because though it was stone it had metal-like qualities so all at one time it was tool, a weapon and adornment and almost became a form of currency,” he says.

Russell Beck demonstrated his research last weekend at Otago Museum.


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