Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Marine bill haste a betrayal

Lawyer and Maori Party stalwart Annette Sykes says the party's leadership has betrayed constituents in its haste to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act before the election.

The Government yesterday brought the Marine and Coastal Area Bill back to parliament from the select committee unchanged, despite thousands of submissions criticising aspects of the bill.

Ms Sykes says there was no warning of the move, despite Prime Minister John Key discussing possible amendments with the Iwi Leaders Forum in Waitangi on Saturday.

“It's worse than what happened with Labour because at least Labour, to their discredit I should say, were open about what they were doing. Here, we were just at Waitangi. Why did not Pita Sharples in his state of the nation speech tell the Maori world that he had agreed over the weekend to allow this legislation to come back to Parliament on its second day this year? Why did he mislead the Maori world?” Ms Sykes says.

She says it's now clear this week's suspension from caucus of rebel Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira was designed to silence a critic of the move.


The Rail and Maritime Union says government-owned Kiwirail is recruiting loco drivers from overseas rather than training local workers.

Bernie Henare says the imports must undergo the same 12-week training as locals, so there is little sense in the policy.

He says Maori have a long history of working on the railways, and the SOE is missing an ideal opportunity to employ young Maori, who make up a disproportionate number of the unemployed.

“We have enough people here who are seeking work, school leavers who want jobs, even adults who are looking for work and who would probably eminently fit the bill, but oh no, we are going to go to England and other places to recruit. That to us is wrong,” Mr Henare says.

He says Kiwirail seems determined to squash local jobs, with its locomotive manufacturing jobs also going overseas.


Gisborne plunket has set up a support group for teenage mums.

Kaiawahina Tatum Gerrard says many young mothers feel extremely isolated.

The weekly get together will allow the rangatahi wahine and their pepe to meet other mums and discuss parenting skills, child development, and education and employment opportunities.

The group meets each Friday at the Kaiti Playcentre.


Greens' co-leader Metiria Tureia says the Maori party is encouraging a dangerous form of elitism in its treatment of the Maori and Coastal Area Bill.

Ms Turei says Maori Party MPs on the select committee teamed up with National to block proper scrutiny of the replacement for the Foreshore and Seabed Act, which was yesterday reported back to Parliament without amendment.

She says the Government appears to have secretly negotiated some amendments with the Iwi Leaders Group.

“That is a real concern for Maori who disagree with iwi leaders and for Maori who said they oppose the bill and do not want it to proceed and for Maori it means the elite continue to have the ear of minister and of the government, that the Maori Party allows for that elite to have that access and the majority of Maori are shut out from the decisions that most affect them,” Ms Turei says.

The Greens will try to put some amendments at the committee stage.


Prime Minister John Key says he may have to get local government minister Rodney Hide to look into the cost of Auckland city's independent Maori statutory board.

The super city council is setting aside $3.5 million a year to meet the costs of the nine-member board, which has appointed representatives to two thirds of the council's committees.

Mr Key says that seems surprising.

“It sounds like a lot but I have not seen any numbers when it was put together. It may depend on what they’re doing with that, so someone will have to look at that, maybe Rodney Hide,” he says.


He was the first of his Rotoiti whanau to go to university, and now Christian Whata has been appointed a High Court judge.

The 42 year old received a masters of law from Cambridge University in England, and returned to Aotearoa to work for leading firm Russell McVeigh, where he is now a partner.

That gave him the chance to work on some high profile Maori cases, including acting for urban Maori in the fisheries cases and for his iwi, Te Arawa, on fisheries issues as well.

Justice Whata will sit in the High Court in Christchurch.


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