Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, March 07, 2011

Christchurch quake test for wardens

The head of the New Zealand Maori Wardens Association says the Christchurch earthquake is demonstrating the value of the organisation.

Gloria Hughes says Maori wardens don’t seek the limelight, and they have quietly gone about their work in Maori communities for years.

She says as a trained and disciplined force they were quickly able to slot into the task civil defence gave them in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs.

She says the presence of the wardens has stopped looting, and it has comforted people who were frightened to open the door.

Ms Hughes says the wardens’ actions on the ground says more than the submissions made to the recent Maori Affairs select committee inquiry into the organization’s statute.


Maori Television presenter Julian Wilcox says the existence of the channel means Maori have been able to tell the story of the Christchurch earthquake in their own way.

Mr Wilcox says in an event of such magnitude, Maori can feel overlooked, and Maori Television is there to show what Maori are doing.

He says the Christchurch earthquake will provide the moteatea, like the rich store of songs and laments Te Arawa have about the Tarawera eruption of 1886.


The publication of a book on taonga Maori held at the British Museum could open up opportunities for iwi to reconnect with the work of their ancestors.

Oceania curator Natasha McKinney says the museum holds the most extensive collection of Maori artifacts outside New Zealand.

The book includes photographs and descriptions of more than 2000 items, including carvings, model canoes, cloaks, baskets, tools and weapons.

Natasha Mc Kinney says the Maori collection is the most visited within the Oceania section of the British museum.

The head of the police’s Maori, Pacific and ethnic services team is defending relief authorities from claims they had neglected Christchurch’s eastern suburbs.

Wally Haumaha says it’s clear many in the areas with high Maori populations feel they were the last to get help.

But he says as soon as they arrived Maori wardens and Te Arawa’s health team were dispatched to the city’s east.

“There hasn't been a deliberate approach to leave the eastern suburbs out. I think what’s happened is because of the magnitude of this whole disaster, getting equipment into the areas quickly has certainly been an issue,” Superintendent Haumaha says.

His team has also been involved with seeing to the cultural needs of victims' families.


A Christchurch Maori mental health workers says while the earthquake has torn lives apart, it is also bringing people together.

Karaitiana Tickell has been working as a trauma counselor since the 6.3 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the city and its infrastructure and killed an estimated 200 people.

He says out of adversity is coming cooperation and hope.

“Even though there is a lot of despair and tragedy, at the same time there is a lot of strength and growth amongst the people. There are times when we are still viewing a lot of laughter, a lot of happiness a lot of joy and people say I never knew may neighbours yesterday but today they are my best friends. There is camaraderie and whanaungatanga growing among people and that is what will drive them forward,” Mr Tickell says.


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