Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Skills training boost for battered city

Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says the $42 million in the budget for skills training in Canterbury should lead to job opportunities for young Maori.

The package was one of the few bits of new spending in a budget marked by austerity and the Government's desire to reduce its deficit.

Mr Solomon says the iwi is working closely with Christchurch Polytechnic on a bid for some of the trade training money needed to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged city.

“With the full recovery of Christchurch, I doubt there are enough tradesmen in the whole of New Zealand. We do have a skill shortage. We do have an opportunity here to bring another generation through and create employment at the same time. We’d be fools not to take it up,” he says.

Ngai Tahu is waiting for a geotechnical report on which areas of Christchurch are suitable for rebuilding so it can see whether any of its landholdings on the outskirts of the city can be developed.


Labour MP Shane Jones says the money going into trade training in Christchurch just highlights the inadequacy of provision for Maori elsewhere.

He says it's a budgie budget where Maori get the crumbs, and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples moves his allocation round like deckchairs on a sinking ship.

He says the Government is not facing up to the inordinately high levels of unemployment among young Maori men.

“This zest that the current minister of police aide by the associate minister of corrections, Dr Sharples, have for jails show they have a rather bleak view. Rather than spend money on these young men and keep them out of jail, unfortunately we are going to see more of them swelling into jail because they don’t have the numeracy, the literacy or adequate work readiness skills, and sorry, a couple of million bucks on numeracy and literacy is not going to cut it,” Mr Jones says.

He says Dr Sharples has trumpeted the reallocation of some funding for Maori language support, but failed to resolve funding problems in kohanga reo, which is necessary if the language is to be picked up by the next generation.

The organiser of today's super haka for Christchurch says the response was sensational.

Super Shuttle director Peter King says up to 4000 people turned out in the four main centres at noon to perform a Ngai Tahu haka, which urges people to rise up and be strong and resolute.

Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon and Christchurch mayor Bob Parker were quick to offer their thanks.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says today's budget provides little for Maori.

Ms Turei says while there is some extra spending Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples’ favourite issue, te reo Maori, the Maori Party has failed to deliver on lowering the cost of living, job creation and income support.

“The issue here is that our people don’t have jobs, they don’t have homes, they can’t get access to higher levels of education, we have vast numbers of our young people on the dole and nothing in this budget is solving any of that,” Ms Turei says.

She says the budget cuts housing and health spending in real terms and can be seen as generally hostile to Maori.


Meanwhile, Waikato University education professor Russell Bishop is delighted with the extra $17 million in the budget to roll out Te Kotahitanga to another 20 schools.

The professional development programme offers teachers better ways of working with and assessing Maori students.

Professor Bishop says the money, spread over four year, will help the programme gain critical mass.

“What we are looking for of course is enough schools to reform the education they are providing for Maori children so that you can change the statistics of disparity that exist in New Zealand today and then the second thing is the qualitative change where the caring and learning relationships are developed through the whole schools and you start seeing changes that support Maori kids learning and everyone else as well,” Professor Bishop says.

Research is showing that Maori students in Te Kotahitanga schools are performing better in external examinations than those at other schools.


Maori communities are being urged to take responsibility for tackling the rheumatic fever that is blighting the lives of many tamariki.

Dr Rawiri Jansen from Ngati Raukawa says Maori-instigated programmes in Northland are starting to clear up high rates of infection among Maori children in places like Kaeo and Kaitaia.

He says other places with disproportionate statistics, such as parts of South Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Waiariki, need to get on board.

“What I understand from the international literature is when a community says we want to deal with this, that’s very powerfuland when a community makes that decision they say right health clinics get on board, doctors get on board, we want nurses or clinics at the schools swabbing our kids throats," Dr Jansen says.

He welcomes the extra $12 million in the budget to fight the disease.


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