Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maori Party goes it alone on broadband deal

The chair of Te Huarahi Tika Maori Spectrum Trust, Mavis Mullins, says the Maori Party's deal with the Government on ultra fast broadband overlooks issues of real significance to Maori.

National is relying on the Maori Party's support to get its Telecommunications Amendment Bill passed now that the Don Brash-led ACT Party has decided it doesn't support the government's $1.5 million fibre roll-out.

Mrs Mullins says the Maori Party didn't consult spectrum claimants before negotiating with Telecommunications Minister Steven Joyce, and it made no attempt to fix flaws with the current spectrum allocation.

“If there was any common sense in the world people would be just talking together and coming to the right conclusions about this stuff but it’s just a game, it’s a political game play at the moment and I suppose getting close to elections everyone is about point scoring and it's not helpful,” Ms Mullins says.

The Ultra fast Broadband comes hard on the heels of the Rural Broadband Initiative, where a Maori-backed consortium was sidelined in favour of a $300 million subsidy for the country's two largest phone companies.


Prime Minister John Key is denying today's budget will accelerate the number of Maori joining whanau in Australia.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has claimed people are Maoridom's number one export, and the more will leave when they see what the National Government has in store for them.

But Mr Key says the government needs to maintain confidence in the New Zealand economy.

“If the government doesn’t balance its books, doesn’t pay for Christchurch, doesn’t get us back into surplus quicker, inevitably where you end up is wiuth countries like Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, where eventually someone comes along and says I’m not lending you as much money, interests rates go up, everyone pays more for their mortgages, homes become more unaffordable and more out of touch particularly for low to middle income people,” he says.

John Key says while today's changes to Kiwisaver will cost families more, low and middle income earners will get more out of Working for Families.


Labour leader Phil Goff is giving the party's candidate riding instructions for the Te Tai Tokerau by-election.

Mr Goff says Kelvin Davis has shown he's passionate about improving education and employment opportunities for Maori.

He's not expecting much substance from Hone Harawira, whose departure from parliament tomorrow precipitates the by-election, and whoever stands for the Maori Party.

“The Maori Party and its breakaway group, the Harawira party, will be fighting amongst themselves about what they’ve done and and whether they’ve sold out or not. All of that bickering is fine but it’s not what is needed to improve real conditions, real standards of living, real job opportunities for the people of Te tai Tokerau,” Mr Goff says.

The by-election may also be seen as a referendum on asset sales.


Wellington City Council is threatening to head to the High Court if it Waiwhetu Maori don't pay $150,000 for the waka Te Raukura by tomorrow (Friday).

The chair of te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui, Neville Baker, says the money is sitting in a lawyer's trust account until the council has signed an agreement spelling out how the payment settles the dispute over the waka's ownership.

Richard McLean, the council's communications manager, says councillors have already agreed on the course of action they would take if the deadline was not met.

“They voted on that stance on the understanding if the deal fell through or we didn’t get the money we would return to the High Court and continue action against them,” Mr McLean says.

The dispute which is hanging over preparations for the council's activities during the Rugby World Cup, so it needs to be settled as quickly as possible.


Prime Minister John Key is questioning whether Kawerau Intermediate pupils who made a hikoi to Parliament this week to challenge the closure of their school really understood the issues.

Mr Key was not among the large group of MPs who went out to greet the hikoi.

He says the Education Ministry's need amalgamate schools can lead to passionate feelings.

“Everyone resists change irrespective of what age they are. Personally I slightly prefer it when the argument is held at an adult level. I feel queasy sometimes when young people are dragged into a political debate but I accept that it does happen,” Mr Key says.

Education Minister Anne Tolley gave the school a chance to make further submissions before she makes her decision at the end of June.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei has identified funding for Whanau Ora and education cuts as things Maori need to watch out for in today's Budget.

Ms Turei says the fear among many social service providers is their money will be shifted to whanau ora providers.

She says many Maori have missed out on getting into university courses because of changes in enrolment standards, and now older students will be penalised because they can't get loans.

“As older people lose jobs they want to go back and retrain but there are signals that student allowances and things won’t be as accessible for those people once they reach 55. Cutting off educational access at both ends of the spectrum is a real problem and a big problem for our people,” Ms Turei says.

She says the budget is likely to encourage more Maori to jump the ditch to Australia.


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