Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Welfare report could drive rift in coalition

Today's report by the Welfare Working Group is likely to pit associate social development minister Tariana Turia against her government colleagues.

The working group is expected to recommend pushing domestic purposes beneficiaries back into the workforce before their youngest child reaches school age.

Mrs Turia says while she favours moves to get the unemployed into work earlier, she's opposed to attacks on women raising their children alone.

“And the majority of them choose not to be alone but are in fact forced into that situation by men who don’t take up their responsibilities to take care of their tamariki and I think that the greatest job anyone can do is to raise their children well, and the state, where the children are vulnerable, should support them,” she says.


A plant pathologist and microbiologist from Rongowhakaata says Maori can help scientists who are investigating kawakawa die-back.

Auckland Council's biodiversity team is checking reports kawakawa trees in Auckland, Waiheke Island and Whangarei have wilted and died in a matter of weeks.

Nick Waipara says the plants are widely usied in rongoa or traditional maori medicine and are considered a taonga in the Maori world.

He says people can be the eyes and ears of scientists, and in this case it was gardeners and people out walking who alerted authorities to the problem.


The Vodafone Warriors are working with the Health Sponsorship Council to encourage Maori and Pasifika children to make healthier choices.

Dain Guttenbeil, Rugby League New Zealand's community programmes manager, says as part of the League 4 Life Healthy Breakfast Eaters programme, team members have attended Community Roots Camps and helped dish out a simple breakfast for the children of cereal, a drink and some toast with spread.

He says an estimated 36,000 children come to school without eating breakfast at home, with Pasifika children five times more likely and Maori children 2.5 times more likely than Pakeha to skip breakfast.

Reuben Wiki will be at the camp in Taranaki this weekend.


The head of the Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the mass imprisonment of Maori has reached crisis point.

Kim Workman told the Cost of Crime conference in Wellington yesterday there were major social consequences to locking up a sizeable proportion of a population.

He says 40 percent of all Maori males over 15 have been imprisoned or served a community sentence.

“The implications of that are quite disastrous. For example, there’s an ad for six truck drivers to do a job for three months but one of the requirements is no criminal convictions. So, that 40 percent that has been In prison or served community sentences are not eligible for those jobs,” Mr Workman says.

He wants to see some independent research on the implications of Maori being six times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Maori.


Tariana Turia is giving warning the Maori Party will oppose any moves to hit beneficiaries harder.

The government's Welfare Working Group report due out today is expected to recommend radical changes to the way benefits are managed, and even a new agency to target those most likely to become long-term beneficiaries.

Mrs Turia, whose portfolios include the community and voluntary sector, disabilities, social development and employment, says many beneficiaries are feeling extremely vulnerable.

“We only have to look at the numbers of families who no longer can afford to feed their children. I know everyone gets on the bandwagon and says oh, they drink, they smoke, they do all these things, but the fact is many families who don’t do those things are struggling to provide for their children in a way all of us have a right to,” she says.

Mrs Turia says she'd like to see recommendations about getting the young into work rather than seeing Maori go straight from school to the dole.


Taranaki is in mourning for Parihaka elder Lindsay MacLeod, who died in the weekend in his 75th year.

Relative Ruakere Hond says Mr MacLeod was raised by adoptive elders at Parihaka and was steeped in the traditions of the pa.

When he returned to the province in the 1970s to run the Maori Affairs department's trade training programmes, he became the key link between tangata whenau and the wider community, including the oil industry and local government.

Mr Hond says he had a particular knack for defusing conflict and overturning stereotypes.

“When issues were raised he was able to break those down into bite sized chunks and discuss those with those groups and in most situations he was able to get really good communication to take place. He communicated very easily. He was able to explain things in ways that others would get very angry with. He was very patient in that way,” Mr Hond says.

Lindsay MacLeod will be taken onto the marae at Parihaka this morning, and his funeral will be on Thursday.


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