Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tainui lining up to buy power station

Waikato - Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan says the iwi will be first in line to buy state assets.

In this week's state of the nation speech, Prime Minister John Key confirmed National will sell shares in power companies and Air New Zealand.

Mr Morgan says the possibility was canvassed during negotiations over co-management of the Waikato River.

“The simple answer to the power generation companies, absolutely we are interested. Absolutely we intend to secure some shareholding and the first one of the block will be Genesis Power and more specifically Huntly Power Station. We’ve made it no secret at all that we intend to buy,” he says.

Mr Morgan says Tainui has the first right to buy Huntly Power station, and it also wants to buy a stake in Mighty River Power, which owns the dams on the Waikato River.


The new coach of the Ngati Porou East Coast Rugby squad, Ngarimu Simpkins, says he's proud to have former Maori All Black Rua Tipoki as his assistant for this year's Heartland championship.

35-year-old Tipoki grew up in Te Araroa until his career took him to Bay of Plenty, North Harbour, the Auckland Blues, and Irish Club Munster.

He was also in the first ever New Zealand Maori squad to beat the British and Irish Lions on their 2005 tour to New Zealand.

Mr Simpkins says as a Maori speaker and great role model, Tipoki will strengthen not only the squad's rugby prowess but also its commitment to taha Maori.

Before the Heartland competition starts in August, Rua Tipoki will help prepare the squad for the pre-season Te Tini a Maui Maori rugby Tournament.


Organisers of tomorrow's 12 hour fundraising concert in Paeroa have their fingers crossed Tawhirimatea provides fine weather.

The show at Paeroa Race Course includes 1814, Ardijah, Moana and Whirimakmo Black, along with ta moko, art and weaving exhibitions.

Janine Clarkin says any profits will be used to upgrade Hauraki marae, including Te Pai O Hauraki, Tirohia, Taharua, Kerepehi and Ngahutoitoi.

The 12 hour concert starts at midday.


The New Zealand Maori Council says unresolved claims to water and subsurface resources could stymie National's plans to sell off state assets after the election.

Spokesperson Maanu Paul says the council will seek a meeting with the Government about the likely obstacles to selling a stake in the state owned energy companies.

He says the issues which caused the 1980s Labour government to curtail its privatisation plans and create state owned enterprises are still live.

“All those things have not yet been resolved and that was the issue in 1986 when we inserted the clause about nothing in that State Owned Enterprise Act will impact on the Treaty of Waitangi claims. The claims that are still outstanding are water, geothermal, coal,” Mr Paul says

To clear the way for a partial sale, the Government may have to look at the settlements the Maori Council and iwi partners achieve with regards to fisheries, state forests and radio spectrum.


Gangs which have been at loggerheads in the past are coming together this weekend to look for ways out of gang life for their children.

Organiser Dennis O'Reilly says the Fatherhood, Gangs, Drugs and Choices programme will bring fathers and sons from Black Power and the Mongrel Mob to the historic Otatara Pa in the Hawkes Bay.

He says the hui will be facilitated by New York-based expatriate John Wareham, a leadership psychologist and the author of How to Break Out of Prison, who will use age-old techniques to get participants to ask questions about their lives.

“And because our participants are almost all Maori, we’re doing it in this quite magical ancient marae, Otatara, and so even though we’re using a very European methodology, the context is whanau, whanaungatanga, of whakapapa,” Mr O'Reilly says.

A similar event five years ago was very successful in getting gang members to question their participation in the methamphetamine trade.


The Maori line-up for this year's WOMAD festival in New Plymouth has just got stronger, with Tiki Taane, the Patea Maori Club and the Whitireia Performing Arts Group joining the bill.

Tiki Taane and his band the Dub Soldiers will be joined on stage by 35 members of Ngaruawahia-based kapa haka group Te Pou o Mangataawhiri.

Maisey Rika, Trinity Roots and the taonga puoro meets electronics collaboration Nga Tae were confirmed earlier.

Maisey Rika says she's looking forward to being on the Bowl of Brooklands stage in March, alongside traditional and indigenous acts from around the world.

Asset sale plan historic amnesia

The Council of Trade Unions' Maori vice president, Syd Kepa, says iwi leaders backing National's plan to sell state assets are forgetting the lessons of history.

Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says while previous privatisations such as New Zealand Rail were poorly handled, John Key's proposal is a new chapter.

But Mr Kepa says assets sales were disastrous for Maori, and some communities still haven't recovered.

“Places like Murupara and Kaingaroa and particularly out in those areas where where we had all those sawmills and stuff, it was a hive of activity. You go there now, gangs and everything else. That’s what asset sales will breed,” he says.


The chair of Auckland city's Maori statutory board says members are aware they could lose their right to vote on council subcommittees if they don't act responsibly.

David Taipari from Ngati Maru says while the implications of the legislation may have taken MPs by surprise, the tangata whenua and mata waka representatives on the board were always aware of the opportunity for greater Maori participation.

He says it reflects the greater role the region's iwi expect to play in civic affairs.

“With the upcoming treaty settlements of the area it’s a very important matter and if we can be seen to be working together at genuine level then I can see the natural progression of those treaty settlements benefiting the region as a whole,” Mr Taipari says.

He says board members are appointed for three years, so their performance will be taken into account when it comes time for reappointment.


Labour MP Shane Jones says the Maori Party thinks the Maori seats are theirs by right because of their name.

Mr Jones says he aims to challenge that by seeking Labour's nomination to stand against Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau.

He says anger against Labour over the foreshore and seabed has diminished now Maori see what a hash the Maori Party has made of the issue, and state asset sales will also count against Dr Sharples.

“I think what we’re going to find, these socioeconomic woes, people concerned about job security, people wondering where on earth an increase in wages is going to come and more importantly, can we continue to sustain our quality of education, health, housing etc without hocking off the family silver,” Mr Jones says.

He says 48 percent of those enrolled in the electorate last election did not vote, so getting Labour's supporters to turn out will be the key to success.


Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather is welcoming the appointment of long-time director Wayne Walden to the board of TVNZ.

Mr Walden from Ngati Kahu is a former managing director of retailer Farmers Deka and former chair of Tranzrail.

Mr Mather says he has long argued for closer co-operation between Maori broadcasters, including a single Maori production unit servicing multiple media outlets.

He says Mr Walden could facilitate this in his new role.

“He will be able to identify areas where the two publicly-funded television broadcasters could possibly be more closely aligned and that may be one of the many benefits that both Maori Television and TVNZ see from Wayne going across to the board of TVNZ,” Mr Mather says.

He does not see a risk of Mr Walden taking secrets to what is essentially a competitor when he joins TVNZ in May.


Green's co-leader Metiria Turei says the sale of state assets runs counter to Treaty of Waitangi principles.

Ms Turei says National's plan ignores the successful treaty-based challenge Maori mounted against asset sales of the 1980s.

She says the Government is trying to turn the clock back.

“There is that same sense of Maori again being without the control or involved in the decision making about what happens to the property that belongs in our own country and from a family point of view, a whanau point of view, it will mean increased power prices,” she says.

Ms Turei says selling state assets is economic insanity.


The story of the forest god Tane and Rehua, the star of summer, is being retold in an installation opening at the Mangere Arts Centre Nga Tohu o Uenuku tonight.

Tu te manu ora i te Rangi is a collaborative work between Hemi Macgregor, Ngataiharuru Taepa and Saffron Te Ratana, which was first shown in 2008 at the Thermostat Art Gallery in Palmerston North.

Mr McGregor, from Ngati Rakaipaaka and Ngai Tuhoe, says the centrepiece of the show, a star on the ceiling linked by hairs to the ground, is a new way of using ancient knowledge.

“From Tuhoe the story goes that in the reacquaintance between Tane and Rehua, Rehua’s gift to Tane was the tui for kai and it was the letting down of his hair and the freeing of the tui that fed off the kutu that lived on his dead. The visuals of the work their, the image of the star and the letting down of the hair,” he says.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Asset sale plan setting agenda for election

Labour MP Shane Jones says selling state assets to foreigners will be a major issue in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate.

Mr Jones is seeking his party's nomination to challenge the incumbent MP, Maori party co-leader Pita Sharples.

He says the issue will raise further doubt among voters about the Maori Party's support for National, and they won't be fooled by suggestions Maori entities could buy in.

“The tribes by dint of their citizenship are already part owners of the state owned assets because the Crown holds them on behalf of all of us. I don’t see any upside whatsoever for the garden variety kiwi in hocking off these assets,” Mr Jones says.

He says it was Muriwhenua claimants and the Maori Council who prevented the sell off of state assets in the 1980s, and a generation later the same assets are on the block.


The chair of the Auckland's Maori statutory board says the super city will be a better place with greater Maori participation.

David Taipari met with mayor Len Brown yesterday to discuss the implications of putting two of the board's nine members on each of the council's 20 subcommittees.

He says while Prime Minister John Key says he wasn't aware the legislation gave those appointees full voting rights, the implications were clear at select committee stage ... and it's nothing to be afraid of.

“I'm sure the council wants to see genuine participation for Maori throughout the region and I’m sure Maori do. If this is the vehicle we’ve got to operate with, then it’s up to this board to be very responsible and to make sure that they comply with the legislation but also be very accountable to the Maori people they have been put in place to assist,” Mr Taipari says.

He says the Maori statutory board will be accountable to Maori throughout the region, even though the law doesn't compel it to be.


The convener of judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards would like to see more support for publishing in Maori.

Books for adults in te reo are in short supply as the five judges get down to identifying finalists from the 150 nominated books published in New Zealand last year.

Paul Diamond from Ngati Haua, Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi, says funding from the Ministry of Education means there are Maori language books published for children, but there is no similar support for adult titles.

He says while the market may be small, it's vital such books exist.

“We produce wonderful poetry but the print run for poetry can be in the hundreds sometimes but often the poetry has support to help the publishers produce it because people have decided that this is an important thing for us to publish so perhaps with all of the resource we are putting into preserving, revitalising, using our reo, we could be thinking about publishing as well,” Mr Diamond says.

He is joined on the judging panel by educationalist Charmaine Pountney, former Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, author Emily Perkins and poet and editor Michael Harlow.


As the Maori Party attempts to discipline Hone Harawira for attacking the party's closeness to National, the maverick MP is backing away from his earlier support for private prisons.

On his way to a meeting of his Tai Tokerau electorate committee about the complaint laid against him by the party whip, Mr Harawira said there was nothing in the Maori Party's support agreement with the Government that requires it to back state asset sales.

He says his earlier support for prison privatisation was based on false assurances from co-leader Pita Sharples.

“Even though I didn’t support privatisation I signaled my support for private prisons because I was assured by one of our co-leaders and by his officials that it would lead to kaupapa Maori prisons. Well in fact it’s not going to mean anything of the sort. So my reason for supporting the privatization of prisons is null and void in my view,” Mr Harawira says.

Even if the Maori Party leadership goes along with National's asset sales plan, he will oppose it because of the disastrous effect of past asset sales on Maori in his electorate.


Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says the race relations commissioner has abandoned any sort of critical assessment in his annual treaty review.

Joris de Bres reported progress in areas like the whanau ora model of service delivery, the proposed constitutional review, and settlements with iwi.

Ms Turei says Mr de Bres has been taken in by window dressing.

“We still have legislation to confiscation customary title from Maori. We’ve got issues around coastal mining and marine mining for example that are happening all around the coast where Maori are fighting large international companies. The big questions around poverty, aren’t being addressed, particularly for Maori communities, isn’t being addressed at al by this government and in fact is being made worse,” she says.

Ms Turei says treaty progress should mean questions about decision making and authority are addressed seriously.


The Council of Trade Unions' Maori vice president, Syd Kepa, says a 2 percent rise in the minimum wage is a slap in the face for low paid Maori.

He says disproportionate numbers of Maori are already getting the minimum wage of $12.50 an hour, so the rise to $12.75 won't go far.

“The 2 percent John Key is flagging is less than the 2.5 percent increase in the GST so a lot of our people on the minimum wage with be batting this year,” Mr Kepa says.

He says the unions will continue to push for a minimum wage of $15 a hour.

Goff: Sharples departing generation and Tamaki

Labour leader Phil Goff says he's looking forward to list MP Shane Jones taking on Maori Party leader Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau this year.

Mr Jones is the front-runner for the nomination, after standing twice in the general seat of Northland.

Mr Goff says despite the damage done to him last year when details of his ministerial expenses were released, the former Maori Fisheries Commission chair has a bright future in politics and is one of a new generation of Maori leaders.

“I like Pita. Pita’s a nice guy, but Pita would be the first to acknowledge that he is part of a departing generation, he’s now in his 70s, so looking at the future, Tamaki Makaurau, that’s got to come back to Labour,” Mr Goff says.

Labour is also rebuilding its relationship with Ratana, with four of its candidates having links to the movement.


Maori lawyer Annette Sykes says there are huge risks for Maori in having unelected appointees voting on Auckland council sub-committees.

Labour MPs have pointed to the council's Maori statutory advisory board's decision to appoint two members to each of the council's 20 subcommittees as proof the super city legislation was badly drafted.

Ms Sykes says the board seems happy there are different rules for Maori than Pakeha - but it could be over-reaching.

“If you are de facto on a committee not because you’ve been voted there but you’ve been appointed there by a Maori group, who gets the liability when they get decisions wrong? Are those that have been voted in to carry the responsibilities for this, or is the liability to be shared by those people who actually haven’t been democratically elected to it,” she says.

Ms Sykes says the law should be changed to create elected Maori seats on the council.


Writer and broadcaster Paul Diamond has 150 books to read before June.

Mr Diamond, from Ngati Haua, Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi, has been appointed convenor of judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

He's joined on the panel by educationalist Charmaine Pountney, former Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, author Emily Perkins and poet and editor Michael Harlow.

He says in his time round as a judge he's got a good idea what he's looking for.

“I guess it's about excellence, that’s what these awards are about. It’s about celebrating the best of what we produce and we produce great books. I love it when people have clever thoughtful structures, strong writing that hooks you in, and I love the way that design can drive narrative. That’s something I’ve learned more about since being part of the New Zealand Post Book Awards,” Mr Diamond says.

As the panel's Te Reo Maori Advisor, he still concerned about the small number of Maori language books being published for adult readers.


New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says National's plan to sell off state assets if it re-elected is lunancy.

Mr Peters says Maori must ask themselves why the Maori Party is supporting a party which would repeat the disastrous privatisations of the 1980's and 90's.

He says prime minister John Key's claim New Zealanders will be able to participate in buying the assets is a joke.

“In a resource hungry world with these gilt-edged blue chip securities which these things are, it makes no sense whatsoever to sell them off in a market which is severely depressed. He cannot explain this other than he was obviously overseas making money trading on currencies such as New Zealand’s when we were going through this disastrous experience,” Mr Peters says.

He says under Mr Key plan, the most likely buyers will be Chinese interests.


Maori lawyer Annette Sykes says the race relations commissioner has got it wrong with his assessment that significant progress has been dealing with Treaty of Waitangi issues over the past year.

Ms Sykes says while settlements gained momentum under Michael Cullen in the last years of the Labour government, the process has gone backwards under National and the Maori Party.

She says Joris de Bres has delivered a once-over lightly report.

“It's almost been written to justify the John Key-Maori Party alliance which has disappointed a lot of commentators, including myself, because they just have not delivered to Maori and they have frankly deprioritised Te Tiriti in the life of this nation to the point it is so far in the margins that our people are feeling completely disaffected by it,” Ms Sykes says.

She says all the settlements Joris de Bres cites in his annual review as representing progress have been marked by opposition from hapu who say their interests are being ignored in favour of deals with large iwi corporates.


The kaihautu or captain of the country's largest waka expects the Waitangi Day regatta will be a memorable experience for two groups of international paddlers.

A dozen kaihoe from North America and a group of Dutch paddlers will join the crew of the Bay of Islands-based Nga Tokimatawhaorua.

Joe Conrad says the presence of the manuhiri is testament to the work Nga Waka Federation of Aotearoa has done in forging connections with the groups like the Confederation of Grand Ronde Tribes of Portland Oregon, the Suquamish people of Seattle, and the Dutch crews of Te Hono Ki Aotearoa, a waka now based at the Volkenkunde Museum in Holland.

“The elite top of the notch waka pageant in the whole country obviously is Waitangi and it’s good to have them down here,” Mr Conrad says.

At the other end of the island, two waka from Whakatane have been invited by help Te Whare waka o Poneke Charitable Trust open of its new waka house on the Wellington Waterfront on February 6, alongside the Wellington-based waka taua, Te Aniwaniwa & Te Raukura.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Auckland council posts politically untouchable

Maori political commentator Matt McCarten says Labour will have to live with Maori appointees getting voting rights on Auckland city council committees.

Former Auckland mayoral candidate says while Local Government Minister Rodney Hide may not have intended for members of the council's Maori statutory advisory board to join every council subcommittee, that seems to be the effect of his reform.

He says Labour's Auckland spokesperson Phil Twyford has nothing to gain by attacking the loophole, even if he believes it is undemocratic.

“I think now for Labour and or National to try to put legislation up to take that right away from them, there will be no illusions by Maori at all that this is a shafting game. They made the laws. Well now they can live with it,” Mr McCarten says.

Labour voted against all stages of the Auckland super city legislation.


The race relations commissioner Joris de Bres says more needs to be done to remove barriers to social and economic equality.

The Human Rights Commission's latest review of developments in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi includes a number of positives, including Government support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the initialling or siging of a record number of treaty settlements and terms of negotiation, and the flying of a Maori flag on Auckland harbour Bridge on Waitangi day.

But Mr de Bres says New Zealand needs to look closely at its social structures.

“You can't have effective and durable race relations if you have significant and intense racial inequalities. Those have been in fact sharpened by the recession and there has to be a renewed commitment to address those issues. They’re not going to be resolved by coming out of the recession. They need active polices and active programmes,” Mr de Bres says.

The commission's review will help the Government prepare its report this year for the United Nations committee for the elimination of racial discrimination.


A driving force behind a traditional Maori garden in Hamilton says the three year old Te Parapara project is proving immensely satisfying.

Wiremu Puke from Ngati Wairere says the gardens beside the Waikato River gives the public a glimpse of what a pre European garden might have looked like.

It includes native plants, carvings and what he believes is the only pataka or storehouse in the country painted with kokowai or red ochre, rather than the museum red paint that pataka have been covered with for more than a century.

He says Ngati Whare from Minginui supplied rata vines for the lashings and Kiritotara help with thatching the pataka roof with totara bark.

Mr Puke says overseas visitors in particular find a visit to the gardens a rewarding experience.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the Government should admit it made a mistake not having elected Maori seats on the Auckland super city council.

Mr Goff says allowing Maori appointees to put themselves on every Auckland council subcommittee wasn't what Local Government Minister Rodney Hide and Prime Minister John Key thought they were doing when they rejected the Royal Commission's recommendation for Maori seats.

He says the way it was set up means the Maori statutory board doesn't represent most of the Maori who live in the Auckland region.

“Why not have the same rule where Maori people can go out and vote for their representatives on the council rather than a strange system where an elite can appoint people onto the council. I’d rather have people elected as Maori representatives on the council than a system of appointment where you have appointed representatives having the same power as elected representatives. I don’t think that's right,” Mr Goff says.

Labour would allow Maori on the Maori electoral roll to vote for their own councillors.


The Health Sponsorship Council is encouraging Maori parents to give their children breakfast.

Michell Mako, the council's manager of nutrition and physical activity, says too many whanau underestimate the value of a solid meal to start the day.

She says tamariki who arrive at school after a good breakfast are more attentive, retain more information and are better prepared for physical demands than students who arrive hungry.

“A lot of our Maori and Pacfic whanau, they’re not having breakfast in the mornings, our kids are heading off to school with empty pukus, and a guess a lot of our whanau don’t really understand the benefits of having breakfast, they don’t eat breakfast themselves perhaps, and we show parents breakfast eaters have it better,” Ms Mako says.

The Health Sponsorship Council is creating a website for the campaign and will sing the praises of a healthy start to the day on Maori radio stations and bilingual media.


Some of the country's top historians will be kicking up the dust next month at the first ever national conference on the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s.

Speakers include James Belich, Monty Souttar from Ngati Porou, Danny Keenan and Peter Adds from Te Atiawa, as well as international experts on colonial wars.

Organiser Peter Cook the says the name "Tutu to Puehu", meaning kicking up the dust, was chosen because while the Professional Historians Association has held conferences on the overseas wars New Zealand has been involved in, it has never looked at wars on its own soil.

“We've got round perhaps to one of the harder topics, the warfare within our own land. I won’t say we’ve left it to last but it’s certainly one we have been putting off because it’s a difficult topic to approach, there’s a bit more emotionality so it’s one we’ve left but we think it will be the best,” he says.

The conference is at Massey University's Wellington campus from February 11 to 13.

Maori casting vote bizarre creation

Labour list MP Shane Jones says having unelected Maori appointing themselves to every Auckland council subcommittee isn't the representation Maori need on the super city.

The council's Maori advisory board, which includes seven members from Auckland-based iwi and two representing Maori residents from tribes outside the region, has interpreted its statute as giving it two votes on every committee.

Mr Jones, who is seeking the Labour nomination for the Tamaki Makaurau seat, says in rejecting the Royal Commission on Auckland governance's recommendation for elected Maori seats, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide created an extraordinarily undemocratic form of Maori representation.

“It's kind of ironic that Rodney Hide who hated the notion of anything Maori in the super city has created a committee that apparently has the ability to offer a casting vote between the right and left combatants inside the super city. It’s bizarre. The very thing he promised to die over, he’s ended up spawning. Rodney has to account for this,” Mr Jones says.

Labour's Maori caucus will want to see how the Maori appointees can add value to the super city, but its priority remains the creation of seats on the Auckland council elected by Maori on the Maori electoral roll.


A northern elder says the Ngapuhi Runanga has no right to cut short the Waitangi Tribunal and negotiate a settlement for Northland claims.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples have endorsed the runanga's plan for a special body, Te Roopu o Tuhoronuku, to seek the mandate to be the tribe's negotiator.

Ron Wihongi says that's likely to draw a lot of opposition from whanau and hapu.

“There are some here who would like to deal with their own land and do the research but if they have outsiders like the Tuhoronuku group outside our own areas, then we’re going to suffer because they’ve got the mandate, and that's wrong,” Mr Wihongi says.


A South Waikato hapu wants assurances a proposed $120 million milk processing plant at Arapuni won't adversely affect whanau living at Pohara Pa directly across the Waikato River.

Tipene Wilson from Ngati Koroki Kahukura says the hapu is concerned about the visual impact, traffic, noise, and the water requirements of the plant.

He says the hapu wants avoid going through with its Environment Court appeal against the resource consent, but a meeting on Monday with developer Zoagn didn't come up with all the answers it needs.

“The bottom line is even though we’ve been in conversation since October 2009 we’ve yet to see the modeling that will settle our minds that the concerns they claim to have mitigated have been mitigated,” Mr Wilson says.


The Human Rights Commission says significant progress has been made in the past year in dealing with Treaty of Waitangi issues.

In his annual review, race relations commissioner Joris de Bres listed what he called a record number of milestones.

These included support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the whanau ora model for delivery of government services, the announcement of a constitutional review, and a number of treaty settlements with iwi.

Mr de Bres says there are still challenges ahead.

“Amongst those is clearly reaching some kind of closure on the foreshore and seabed, attempting to tackle the social and economic inequalities, trying to get some change in representation in local government which I think is an ongoing issue and wasn’t resolved at the last election,” he says.


A researcher into physical abuse of children in New Zealand says reporters write stories in a racially biased way to satisfy their newspaper bosses and social expectations.

Raema Merchant from the Eastern Institute of Technology went back over eight years of abuse cases and interviewed reporters who covered the stories.

She says they admitted the stories got more space if Maori were involved.

“Journalists kept saying it time and again that some of their reasons for writing what they did was because of newspaper deadlines, it was because of the ideologies their newspaper had, it was because they wrote what they were expected to write but also because it was what the public wanted to hear,” Ms Merchant says.

In the eight years of newspaper coverage she could not find one example where an offender was identified as Pakeha or European.


An expert on pounamu says the use of jade by pre-European Maori was probably more advanced than any other people in the world.

Russell Beck, an Invercargill gemologist, has been recreating ancient methods of chipping and grinding greenstone.

He says because Maori did not have metals such as copper and iron, they developed sophisticated ways of using stone for a wide range of uses.

“Jade of pounamu was the best material for that because though it was stone it had metal-like qualities so all at one time it was tool, a weapon and adornment and almost became a form of currency,” he says.

Russell Beck demonstrated his research last weekend at Otago Museum.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lost generation not acceptable

Labour leader Phil Goff says the country can't afford a lost generation of unemployed young Maori.

In today's state of the nation speech at the New Lynn Community Centre, Mr Goff pledged a greater investment in education, from the pre-school level to skills training later on.

He says far too many Maori boys and girls are moving from underachievement at school to unemployment and social offending.

“It is an absolute disgrace that half of our young Maori girls leaving school go on to unemployment, written off before they begin their life. You just cannot have a society that writes people off by throwing them on the unemployment scrapheap. We’ve got to provide the skills training. We’ve got to provide a future for them. We’ve got to give them hope,” Mr Goff says.


An urban Maori representative on the Auckland council's Maori advisory board says Maori have now got what they wanted from the super city reform.

The nine-member appointed board has nominated two members to each of the council's 20 subcommittees.

John Tamihere says that gives Maori more power than they would have got if National and ACT had not blocked the Royal Commission recommendation for dedicated Maori seats at the top table.

“For the first time in the history of a major city we can sit at the table where major decisions are being formulated rather than having to protest and march down streets after the event,” he says.

Mr Tamihere says the attack on the arrangement by Labour's Auckland spokesperson Phil Twyford shows Maori can't trust Labour.

But Mr Twyford says Labour supports democratic Maori representation in local government, but not self-appointed representatives having the casting vote alongside elected councillors.


A group reviving the ancient Maori ball game Kio Rahi will play demonstration matches on the Treaty grounds on Waitangi weekend to whet people's appetite for a competition timed to coincide with the Rugby World Cup later in the year.

Organiser Harko Brown says September's tournament with teams from France, Tonga and England at venues around the country has the endorsement of Rugby New Zealand chief executive Martin Sneddon.

The New Zealand men's and women’s teams which competed in Europe last year will reassemble at Waitiangi for the demonstration matches.


Phil Goff's election year state of the nation speech has got the thumbs up from a Maori member of Labour's ruling council.

Rudy Taylor from Ngapuhi says the Labour leader's speech to party faithful at the New Lynn Community Centre this afternoon hit the right notes with its focus on a fairer tax system and investment in jobs, education and skills training.

Mr Goff promised the next Labour government would drop tax on the first $5000 in income, claw back some of National's tax cuts for high earners and crack down on tax avoidance.

Mr Taylor says the economy is hitting Maori families hard.

“The fact is that the Government of today is putting a lot of our own people under pressure in terms of high employment, in terms of initiatives and vision about where the country is going and I think Phil’s given his speech to let people know what the Labour Party is going to deliver. Yes, there is such a thing as high Maori unemployment and I hop that the initiatives he is going to create will help our own people,” Mr Taylor says.


The chair of the Ngapuhi Runanga, Sonny Tau, says the northern iwi won't feel bound by what other tribes have come when it comes to negotiating settlement of its historic claims.

The runanga is seeking a mandate for a spin-off body, Te Roopu o Tuhoronuku, to seek a mandate to negotiate with the Crown without waiting for the Waitangi Tribunal to finish hearing all northern claims.

Mr Tau says the evidence the tribunal has heard so far, on Ngapuhi's traditional understanding of the 1835 Declaration of independence and 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, provides a solid basis to work from.

“The Crown must pay for the grievances it has caused Ngapuhi against He Whakaputanga o te rangatiratanga me te Tiriti o Waitangi. No more. No less. There is a quantum there and we expect to blow that quantum apart with the thesis Ngapuhi has that our tupuna did not cede sovereignty,” Mr Tau says.

He says Ngapuhi will want compensation to repair the damage colonisation did to its language and culture, as well as its loss of land and other grievances.


Maori social commentator Rawiri Taonui says it is unfathomable that there are no Maori on the New Zealand Tourism Board.

The government-funded board has come under fire for its latest international marketing campaign which omits any Maori content.

Mr Taonui says the board's website proclaims it as a multicultural organisation, but the Tourism Minister, John Key, hasn't seen fit to reflect that at governance level.

“There are no Maori, no Pasifika and no non-Pakeha people on the board of 12 to 14 people. Now if you look at the award winners from last year, three of the 14 prizes given out were Maori businesses and about half or more of the other businesses had Maori content in their operations,” Mr Taonui says.

Ngapuhi Runanga seeks settlement shortcut

The head of the Ngapuhi Runanga is confident he can win support from enough of the tribe to cut short the Waitangi Tribunal process and move to direct negotiation of a settlement for Northland claims.

Sonny Tau says Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson have endorsed the runanga's plan for a special body, Te Roopu o Tuhoronuku, to seek a mandate to negotiate a comprehensive settlement.

The plan is drawing fire from many claimants, but Mr Tau says the Tuhoronuku strategy is starting to win support from across the 123,000-strong iwi.

“We are always open to sitting down and having a korero with whoever it is, whenever it is they desire to have a talk and hopefully by the end of that we’ve found that we have talked to a few disaffected people and hapu and they’ve come and signed up with Tuhoronuku on them saying they did not understand that this was on offer,” he says.

Te Roopu o Tuhoronuku will hold mandating hui in March and April.


Former Labour MP John Tamihere says criticism of Maori appointees getting votes on Auckland council committees shows why Maori can't trust Labour.

Mr Tamihere represents urban Maori on the super city's statutory Maori advisory board.

Labour's Auckland spokesperson Phil Twyford has criticised what he calls sloppy law drafting which has allowed the board to appoint two representatives with full voting rights to each of the council's committees.

Mr Tamihere says he's bemused by that response.

“So what it starts to show you is you really can’t trust Labour if you’re Maori. Because believe it or no Christine Fletcher who happened to be a National MP for Epsom, she actually supports it,” he says.

Mr Tamihere says Mr Twyford did not raise any objection to the statutory board's procedures while the bill was going through Parliament.


The organiser of a community day aimed at reducing the weight of Maori in South Auckland says leaders cannot sit by and let weight problems balloon.

Tania Rangiheuea from the Manukau Urban Maori Authority brought people to Nga Whare Waatea Marae over the weekend for free health checks as well as demonstrations of tai chi, drumming, boxing and other healthy activities.

She says up to one in two adult Maori now tip the scales into obesity, but by taking small steps people can improve the health and future of their whanau.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says all political parties should go on to Ratana Pa together.

The Te Tai Hauauru MP, who is a morehu or church member, went onto the marae yesterday afternoon with Prime Minister John Key and other National Party ministers.

A Labour group led by Phil Goff had been welcomed on in the morning.
Mrs Turia says the annual hui should not be a political occasion.

“It's an occasion that is about the celebration of the life of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana. My view is and always has been that if the political parties are gong to come there should be one powhiri because that’s about giving respect and consideration to those old people who sit on that paepae all day,” Mrs Turia says.

She says ultimately it's up to church leaders to decide how guests are called onto the marae.


But a Labour list MP says Labour's annual hikoi to Ratana gives it a chance to reaffirm its relationship with an important group of supporters.

Kelvin Davis says Labour was pleased at the warm welcome it got yesterday, compared with the flak it copped last year from one speaker.

He says leader Phil Goff's speech focused on things that matter to Maori, such as employment and being able to look after people.

“People are starting to realise that the government really doesn’t have the answers, that the wage gap between the rich and the poor is getting larger, that people are heading to Australia to look for work because it isn’t good here. People are really struggling to pay the bills and so we’re looking good to reclaim a lot of the support that left us because of the whole foreshore and seabed issue,” Mr Davis says.

He says while many Ratana members shifted their allegiance to the Maori Party, some are now coming back.


The co-ordinator of a Rotorua-based bi-cultural journalism diploma says many Maori leaders could do with some communications help.

Craig Tiriana says Waiariki Institute of Technology has overhauled the 20-year-old course, and this year is offering 10 iwi scholarships in a bid to lure more culturally aware students to the course.

He says while tribal leaders have focused on economic development, many have been slow to recognise the need for good communicators.

“We've spent a lot of time concentrating on professional people, more doctors, lawyers, accountants, Maori with those skills to do jobs for Maori but we’ve never really looked at communications as such but as the world moves on communications is getting more and more important. A lot of our Maori people are in different parts of the world, in different parts of the country, and how we get our stories out to them will be more important in the future,” Mr Tiriana says.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Buyer's remorse hits morehu

A leading Ratana figure says many church members are considering whether their switch from Labour to the Maori Party was a wise move.

Prime Minister John Key and 10 of his ministerial colleagues, including Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, were at Ratana Pa today, as was Labour leader Phil Goff and members of his caucus.

Andre Meihana, the son of church leader Haare Meihana, says the covenant between Labour and Ratana signed by church founder T W Ratana and Labour's first prime minister Michael Joseph Savage isn't something that morehu can abandoned easily.

“A lot of the loyal Labour supporters under the Ratana movement shifted over to the Maori Party. Things are a bit different now. Maori people are sort of weighing up the options, was it a good thing to move to the Maori Party or was it not, and everyone is thinking like that,” he says.

Andre Meihana himself joined the Maori Party in 2005, opposing his older brother Errol's decision to stand for Labour in Te Tai Hauauru.


Tainui executive head Tukoroirangi Morgan says the tribe will push ahead with an independent review of its activities and processes, despite the weekend endorsement of Tania Martin as chair of Te Kauhanganui tribal parliament.

King Tuheitia attempted to sack Mrs Martin in December after she wrote a report critical of Mr Morgan and his Te Ara Taura executive and announced she would lead a review of tribal structures.

Mr Morgan says he accepts the weekend's 32-21 vote by marae delegates in favour of Mrs Martin retaining her job.

“Here's an opportunity to go back again and conduct an independent and comprehensive review of everything that we do and try to get to a place where we can better deliver results, where we can reduce costs, to try to find a way about how we do our business better,” he says.

Mr Morgan says the review led by retired Maori Land Court judge Heta Hingston could lead to reductions in the size of both the parliament and the executive.


One of the country's foremost Maori broadcasters says the most satisfying part of his job was allowing listeners and viewers to hear high quality Maori being spoken.

Kingi Ihaka has retired from Maori Television after 25 years in radio and television.

The 68-year old from Te Aupouri started his broadcast career late, after service with the SAS and the police.

He says on programmes like Marae and Waka Huia, the way a story was being told was often more important than what was being said.

“Factual content was not the issue. It was more he was speaking perfect Maori as an example to other Maori colleagues and the fact he was telling the story as he understood it to be,” Mr Ihaka says.

He's pleased he was able to record people so their grandchildren could one day listen to them and see them.


Taitokerau MP Hone Harawira says the way the Maori Party is dealing with a complaint against him has descended into farce.

The complaint, over a newspaper column in which Mr Harawira attacked the party's continuing support for National, was laid by whip Te Ururoa Flavell and endorsed by the other Maori Party MPs.

Mr Harawira says he was barred from addressing the complaint at a party meeting at Whangaehu.

“Yesterday I attended the meeting of the national council and both Te Ururoa and I were there. By the time we got around to dealing with this big elephant in the room, this complaint, they asked us to leave the room. It ain’t kaupapa Maori. It’s certainly not natural justice,” Mr Harawira says.

The complaint will be discussed by his Tai Tokerau electorate committee on Thursday, but that is unlikely to resolve the matter.


Constitutional reform was on the agenda today when politicians made their annual pilgrimage to Ratana Pa near Whanganui.

Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff both led large ope onto the marae for the hui marking the birthday of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Andre Meihana, one of the prophet's great-grandsons, says the constitutional review announced by Mr Key in December is of prime importance to morehu or church members.

“The prophet talked abut constitutional reform, he talked about there would be a time when we will become an independent republic, saying don’t wait to deal with the constitution after because you become a republic. It will be hard to do it after and it won't happen,” he says.

Mr Meihana says Ratana members want to see the Treaty of Waitangi as the foundation of any future constitution.


Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says economic hard times will affect the way Maori vote in this year's election.

Parekura Horomia joined party leader Phil Goff and other MPs at Ratana Pa today to remind morehu of Labour's long-standing links with the movement.

He says while the Maori Party has highlighted issues like the Maori flag or replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act, it's the economy that matters to most Maori families ... as could be seen by the attendance at Ratana.

“People going to hui like the waka going to Ratana, people are a lot more nervous about taking the day off that in the past they wuld have taken off with the blessing of the company, everyone is protecting their job, everybody’s concerned, particularly abut the food prices, the petrol prices, the electricity prices and the quite dramatic rise,” Mr Horomia says.

Ratana readies for political debates

Ratana Pa near Whanganui is preparing for an influx of politicians today, including Prime Minister John Key and his Maori Party allies and Labour leader Phil Goff with members of his caucus.

They will join thousands of morehu or church members in marking the birthday of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Ratana-raised entertainer Ruia Aperahama says the annual hui continues to be a draw for MPs because morehu always vote, unlike many other sectors of the Maori community.

He says Ratana and Maori politics are inextricably linked.

“Holding the four Maori seats for half a century, a lot of Maori families that share that legacy, it’s no surprise they are still continuing those discussions at their family table. My experience around the country with morehu and at the huis, there is a strong core political body out there,” Mr Aperahama says.


Meanwhile, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples he’s ready to discuss coalition agreements with either National or Labour after the next election.

Dr Sharples says the Party’s support agreement with National has allowed it to make gains which would not been impossible outside of government.

But that doesn't mean it must team up again with John Key next time and would consider Labour.

“For us it’s a question of who will dance with us, because we have our policy, and it’s Maori, it’s not right, it’s not left, and we’re wide open to be asked to join people but it will be that sort of relationship, that we can’t stray really from why we’re there and it’s things Maori which we believe what’s good for Maori is good for New Zealand,” Dr Sharples says.


It's all go at Waiohika near Gisborne as volunteers work to get the natural amphitheatre ready for Te Matatini national kapahaka championships in three weeks.

Organising committee member Willie Te Aho says the biannual festival is creating unprecedented international interest, with seven international broadcasters attending.

He says the Guinness Book of Records is also getting in on the act, as the festival attempts to beat the record of 3264 people doing a haka, set at the Tainui games three years ago.

“We’re going to have on the last day up to 20,000 people on site and we want to get people involved in being a part of creating as new benchmark in Guinness Book of Records,” Mr Te Aho says.

More than 5000 tickets to the four day event have already been sold.


Labour's associate education spokesperson says a programme designed to increase Maori and Pasifika participation in tertiary education has confirmed the superiority of the NCEA system over Cambridge exams.

Kelvin Davis says Education Minister Anne Tolley is undermining public confidence in the national certificate of educational achievement by backing Auckland Grammar’s decision to only offer NCEA to its weakest students.

He says the school’s decision is based on elitist prejudice rather than research, such as the Starpath project used in other Auckland schools.

“The reason that Starpath says CEA is a better predictor of success than Cambridge is because the NCEA system sort of replicates the way teaching occurs in university so students are better prepared at university than the old fashioned system which is what Cambridge is of going through the year and at the end of the year having a big exam,” Mr Davis says.

He says the minister is too scared to front up to the National Party supporters on Auckland Grammar’s board of trustees.


The head of prison reform advocacy group Rethinking Crime and Punishment says imprisoning people for non-payment of traffic fines would discriminate against Maori and the poor.

Kim Workman from Ngati Kahungunu says the proposed change in the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill runs counter to international research.

He says judges already have the discretion to jail people rather than adding another fine to their existing tariff – and it’s happening more often.

“What we’re finding is that with the recession the numbers of people being sent to prison for non-payment of fines is just out of all proportion and so what we’re doing is imprisoning people because they are poor, not because they necessarily refuse to pay fines,” Mr Workman says.

He says jailing non-payers imposes huge costs on the taxpayer, as well as harming the offender’s family.


The 21st annual waka ama championships wrapped up over the weekend, with thousands of paddlers from round the country churning up the waters of Lake Karapiro.

Hoturoa Kerr from Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa says the event confirmed the popularity of the sport in Maori and Pacifika communities.

He says the host region can hold its head up high, with the Turangawaewae Waka Sports club having a particularly successful regatta.

“From little kids and midgets all the way through to the adults and masters it was great to see their fielding one of the biggest club showings and in terms of club points for the whole regatta they came second so I think it’s great for a club that’s just started off and just getting into the swing of things,” Mr Kerr says.

The country’s top paddlers will now focus on fundraising to attend the next world waka ama championships in Canada.

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