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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Te Puni Kokiri seeks quake role

Te Puni Kokiri has called a hui this morning of Christchurch-based Maori organisations to shape a collective response to the latest earthquake.

Chief executive Leith Comer says the ministry's Christchurch regional offices are currently off-limits.

He says it's looking to set up a base at Rehua marae in St Albans, from where it will see if it can play a coordination role between organisations that want to participate, like the urban authority, Ngai Tahu, whanau ora providers and the Maori wardens,” Mr Comer says.

The hui starts at 10 am.


Rugby legend Bill Bush says old Maori footy mates throughout the country want to know how they can help Christchurch people recover from the quake.

Mr Bush says his home in the city's northwest was relatively unscathed, but he's trying to direct the help towards those hardest hit.

He says there will bleak days for many with no water and power.

Bill Bush says he spent yesterday taking water to mates in the areas were power and water is out, as well as digging longdrop toilets.


Meanwhile in Taranaki this morning, Maori and Pakeha are farewelling a man who made a huge contribution bringing Maori and Pakeha together.

Lindsay McLeod died on Monday at the age of 74, and his funeral is at Parihaka at 10.

The former Maori affairs community officer was involved in Maori organisations in the province for more than 40 years, and worked for the New Plymouth District Council since 1999 and an adviser and kaumatua.

Former mayor Peter Tennent says Mr McLeod was an invaluable friend and supporter, as well as being a quiet achiever for Maori.

“He was a make it happen man. I think we have made some huge advances in Taranaki and Lindsay was a large part of that. He was a great networker, he had fantastic contacts around Taranaki and around the world. A fantastic gentleman, loving husband and father, he will be truly missed,” Mr Tennent says.


Te Puni Kokiri chief executive Leith Comer says the Maori ministry has an important role to play coordinating the Maori contribution to Christchurch's recovery.

Mr Comer is heading to Otautahi this morning with Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples for a hui at Rehua Marae with the city's Maori organisations.

He says they'll be carrying the best wishes of all Maoridom.

“Iwi groups from all over want to see how they can help. We can see there could be a function for a TPK presence there to be able to coordinate the activities of those people not only inside Otautahi but the 101 people who want to provide resources and support from across the motu,” Mr Comer says.

Te Puni Kokiri's regional offices are in the central city area that is sealed off, so the ministry intends to establish a base at Rehua marae.


Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says with technology out for the count in quake-hit Christchurch, Maori networks are proving invaluable.

The runanga has relocated to its lobster factory near the airport, but most of its equipment is still back in the closed-off central business district.

Mr Solomon says its priority is finding out how its Christchurch-based members got through the quake, and whanau connections are being invoked.

Despite the severity with which the quake hit Ngai Tahu's Christchruch head office, there were only relatively minor injuries among staff.


The head of Ngai Tahu's whakapapa unit says he found it hard to believe the scenes on Christchurch streest after the earthquake struck.

Terry Ryan says the chaos in the runanga building was nothing compared to what the 75 staff members saw when they got to the street.

He says there were bodies lying in the street, bloodied people, smoke and dust, and thousands of people wandering around trying to work out how to get home.

Dr Ryan says his priority was getting to Rehua Marae, which has been opened as a sanctuary for all comers.


Christchurch academic Rawiri Taonui says the harshness of UN rapporteur James Anaya's criticism of New Zealand should not be lost as the country is gripped by the earthquake disaster.

In his report tabled in the general assembly on Monday, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples says Maori are extremely disadvantaged socially and economically compared to other New Zealanders.

Mr Taonui says particularly significant is a finding constitutional protection is needed to stop politicians circumscribing Maori rights through legislation like the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill.

“Parliament, the National Party and the Maori Party are defining Maori customary rights in a narrow sense and then giving a clayton’s allowance for Maori to go to court but it’s an empty promise because those rights have been pre-defined in a very narrow way by the Bill,” he says.

Mr Taonui says the New Zealand system offers weak protections for Maori rights.


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