Waatea News Update

News from Waatea 603 AM, Urban Maori radio, first with Maori news

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, March 04, 2011

Solomon warns of logistical nightmare

Ngai Tahu head Mark Solomon says Maori wanting to help with Christchurch relief efforts should first contact the 0800 KAITAHU hotline.

He says the iwi appreciates the concern shown by Maori around the country, but accommodating workers is a logistical nightmare.

The Maori relief effort is currently run from Ngai Tahu's Wigram air base and from the relief centres established by Te Puni Kokiri and urban Maori groups at Rehua Marae and Nga Hau e Wha Marae.

Tainui set up a base camp near lincoln university yesterday for its 60 medical and catering staff, and Ngai tahu is also working closely with the Salvation army and the student army.


Meanwhile, Flaxmere kaumatua Henare O'Keefe says he's ready to take his mobile barbeque to Christchurch.

The tunutunu barbeque has become a centre for community organising around Hastings, with the popular district councillor using it as a way to attract people to street meetings.

He says even though he has nothing in life but the shirt on his back, when people heard he'd been asked to take go to Christchurch they opened their hearts and wallets.

He's also taking his guitar to help him raise people's spirits.


Maori academic and Christchurch resident Rawiri Taonui says some Christchurch residents don't seem to want to take help from a brown man.

Mr Taonui says the Maori response led by Ngai Tahu and Te Puni Kokiri has been great, with relief offered to Maori and non-Maori alike.

But he says at an individual level, Maori can be made to feel in the minority.

“From about day two onwards we spend most of my time walking round the neighbourhoods with my two kids helping people dig out and we noticed the further away from our street, the greater the frequency of people not really wanting to accept our offer of help. It had a bit to do with a large black man walking down the street with his big shovel might be casing out there house rather than being there generally to help,” Mr Taonui says.


Maori affairs minister Pita Sharples says not enough is being done for those parts of Christchurch with high Maori populations.

Dr Sharples says the Te Puni Kokori and Ngai Tahu are working with iwi around the country to get relief assistance and supplies into the city's eastern suburbs.

But he says other agencies seem slower to identify the need in those areas.

“The official civil defence team says we have not forgotten the eastern suburbs but the reality is it’s getting on for two weeks and they still haven’t got toilets, they still haven’t got water and power, and one would think ‘how come others had toilets and water within a few days after the earthquake?’ and it’s the poorer area,” he says.

Dr Sharples says it's hard on old people to still be digging holes in the garden for toilets more than a week after the quake.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says the Government's talk of cutting benefits to pay for the Christchurch rebuilding is heartless.

Ms Turei was in the city yesterday working with the 1000-strong student volunteer army that is helping to distribute relief supplies and clear silt and rubble.

She says the students were shocked by Finance Minister Bill English's signal that interest free student loans and working for families tax credits could be cut.

“It's heartless. The economic ideas the government has are heartless at a time of such incredible strain for all whanau, not just those who are in Christchurch,” Ms Turei says.

Maori families are also concerned they could be hit by an across the board tax levy to pay for the damage.


A Maori trauma councellor working with whanau in Christchurch says the pressures are starting to tell.

Christchurch resident Karaitiana Tickell and his wife have sent their tamariki to relatives out of town, but stayed on to help in the relief effort.

The mental health professional says the devastation wreaked by last week's quake traumatised everyone from tamariki to kaumatua, especially in the eastern suburbs.

He says people are moving in with relatives, so there are the problems that come with overcrowded housing.

Karaitiana Tickell says it's even harder for those staying in the suburbs without power, water or sewerage.


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