Waatea News Update

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Te Puni Kokiri seeks quake role

Te Puni Kokiri has called a hui this morning of Christchurch-based Maori organisations to shape a collective response to the latest earthquake.

Chief executive Leith Comer says the ministry's Christchurch regional offices are currently off-limits.

He says it's looking to set up a base at Rehua marae in St Albans, from where it will see if it can play a coordination role between organisations that want to participate, like the urban authority, Ngai Tahu, whanau ora providers and the Maori wardens,” Mr Comer says.

The hui starts at 10 am.


Rugby legend Bill Bush says old Maori footy mates throughout the country want to know how they can help Christchurch people recover from the quake.

Mr Bush says his home in the city's northwest was relatively unscathed, but he's trying to direct the help towards those hardest hit.

He says there will bleak days for many with no water and power.

Bill Bush says he spent yesterday taking water to mates in the areas were power and water is out, as well as digging longdrop toilets.


Meanwhile in Taranaki this morning, Maori and Pakeha are farewelling a man who made a huge contribution bringing Maori and Pakeha together.

Lindsay McLeod died on Monday at the age of 74, and his funeral is at Parihaka at 10.

The former Maori affairs community officer was involved in Maori organisations in the province for more than 40 years, and worked for the New Plymouth District Council since 1999 and an adviser and kaumatua.

Former mayor Peter Tennent says Mr McLeod was an invaluable friend and supporter, as well as being a quiet achiever for Maori.

“He was a make it happen man. I think we have made some huge advances in Taranaki and Lindsay was a large part of that. He was a great networker, he had fantastic contacts around Taranaki and around the world. A fantastic gentleman, loving husband and father, he will be truly missed,” Mr Tennent says.


Te Puni Kokiri chief executive Leith Comer says the Maori ministry has an important role to play coordinating the Maori contribution to Christchurch's recovery.

Mr Comer is heading to Otautahi this morning with Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples for a hui at Rehua Marae with the city's Maori organisations.

He says they'll be carrying the best wishes of all Maoridom.

“Iwi groups from all over want to see how they can help. We can see there could be a function for a TPK presence there to be able to coordinate the activities of those people not only inside Otautahi but the 101 people who want to provide resources and support from across the motu,” Mr Comer says.

Te Puni Kokiri's regional offices are in the central city area that is sealed off, so the ministry intends to establish a base at Rehua marae.


Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says with technology out for the count in quake-hit Christchurch, Maori networks are proving invaluable.

The runanga has relocated to its lobster factory near the airport, but most of its equipment is still back in the closed-off central business district.

Mr Solomon says its priority is finding out how its Christchurch-based members got through the quake, and whanau connections are being invoked.

Despite the severity with which the quake hit Ngai Tahu's Christchruch head office, there were only relatively minor injuries among staff.


The head of Ngai Tahu's whakapapa unit says he found it hard to believe the scenes on Christchurch streest after the earthquake struck.

Terry Ryan says the chaos in the runanga building was nothing compared to what the 75 staff members saw when they got to the street.

He says there were bodies lying in the street, bloodied people, smoke and dust, and thousands of people wandering around trying to work out how to get home.

Dr Ryan says his priority was getting to Rehua Marae, which has been opened as a sanctuary for all comers.


Christchurch academic Rawiri Taonui says the harshness of UN rapporteur James Anaya's criticism of New Zealand should not be lost as the country is gripped by the earthquake disaster.

In his report tabled in the general assembly on Monday, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples says Maori are extremely disadvantaged socially and economically compared to other New Zealanders.

Mr Taonui says particularly significant is a finding constitutional protection is needed to stop politicians circumscribing Maori rights through legislation like the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill.

“Parliament, the National Party and the Maori Party are defining Maori customary rights in a narrow sense and then giving a clayton’s allowance for Maori to go to court but it’s an empty promise because those rights have been pre-defined in a very narrow way by the Bill,” he says.

Mr Taonui says the New Zealand system offers weak protections for Maori rights.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ngai Tahu responds to Christchurch quake

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu has relocated out of its central city head office as it tries to draw together tribe members in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.

Chairperson Mark Solomon says so far there has been no reports of fatalities among members.

He says as in last September's quake, the tribe’s lobster factory near the airport has become the headquarters.

The 0800 KAITAHU line has been reactivated, and people are being urged to stay home.


Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene's attempt to physically inspect Christchurch's marae is proving problematic, with many roads around the city blocked.

Mrs Katene says her first task was to check on the well-being of whanau and staff, and she is now getting out among constituents.

She says the marae most damaged by last September's quake was Rehua in the suburb of St Albans.


Maori Rugby has cancelled the Te Waipounamu leg of its regional tournament. which was due to be played this weekend.

Co-ordinator Ani Haua says 13 teams were due to battle it out at Timaru's Alpine Stadium this weekend.

A team would then be put together to play against central and northern teams for the George Nepia Memorial Shield.

She says organisers held an emergency meeting last night, and out of respect for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake decided to call the tournament off.

That may affect the entire tournament.


Ngai Tahu leader Mark Solomon says it seems just good fortune that no member iwi staff were seriously injured in yesterday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

The iwi's central city offices were severely shaken up, with one broken wrist and some people caught in the lift.

Staff have relocated to the Ngai Tahu lobster packing plant near Christchurch airport.

Mr Solomon was in Wellington when the quake struck and didn't get back to the city until 3 AM after travelling back to the South Island by ferry.

The iwi has reactivated its 0800 Kai Tahu number to offer help and advice to members.


Despite damage to its meeting house, Rehue Marae in the central Christchurch suburb of St Albans has opened its doors as a refuge for people of all ethnicities.

Marae secretary Terry Ryan says pou collapsed in the wharenui, making the building unsafe.

But he says mattresses have been laid out in the wharekai.

"I think we're looking into the long haul. I think as a community we’re all looking after each other here,” Dr Ryan says.

Te Puni Kokori has called a meeting at the marae for 10am tomorrow to co-ordinate the response from Maori non-government organisations.


Canterbury rugby legend Bill Bush says the north west of the city where he lives is the only part of Christchurch where basics like petrol and milk are still available.

Mr Bush says that might not last for long, as supplies are running out fast.


The Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Centre is asking landowners with rock art sites on their property to check for quake damage.

Manager Ben Lee says rock art at Duntroon on the Waitaki River was severely damaged during a storm last year, but there did not appear to be any major damage caused by last September's quake.

He says with more than 500 sites on limestone, there may be some damage.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Welfare report could drive rift in coalition

Today's report by the Welfare Working Group is likely to pit associate social development minister Tariana Turia against her government colleagues.

The working group is expected to recommend pushing domestic purposes beneficiaries back into the workforce before their youngest child reaches school age.

Mrs Turia says while she favours moves to get the unemployed into work earlier, she's opposed to attacks on women raising their children alone.

“And the majority of them choose not to be alone but are in fact forced into that situation by men who don’t take up their responsibilities to take care of their tamariki and I think that the greatest job anyone can do is to raise their children well, and the state, where the children are vulnerable, should support them,” she says.


A plant pathologist and microbiologist from Rongowhakaata says Maori can help scientists who are investigating kawakawa die-back.

Auckland Council's biodiversity team is checking reports kawakawa trees in Auckland, Waiheke Island and Whangarei have wilted and died in a matter of weeks.

Nick Waipara says the plants are widely usied in rongoa or traditional maori medicine and are considered a taonga in the Maori world.

He says people can be the eyes and ears of scientists, and in this case it was gardeners and people out walking who alerted authorities to the problem.


The Vodafone Warriors are working with the Health Sponsorship Council to encourage Maori and Pasifika children to make healthier choices.

Dain Guttenbeil, Rugby League New Zealand's community programmes manager, says as part of the League 4 Life Healthy Breakfast Eaters programme, team members have attended Community Roots Camps and helped dish out a simple breakfast for the children of cereal, a drink and some toast with spread.

He says an estimated 36,000 children come to school without eating breakfast at home, with Pasifika children five times more likely and Maori children 2.5 times more likely than Pakeha to skip breakfast.

Reuben Wiki will be at the camp in Taranaki this weekend.


The head of the Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the mass imprisonment of Maori has reached crisis point.

Kim Workman told the Cost of Crime conference in Wellington yesterday there were major social consequences to locking up a sizeable proportion of a population.

He says 40 percent of all Maori males over 15 have been imprisoned or served a community sentence.

“The implications of that are quite disastrous. For example, there’s an ad for six truck drivers to do a job for three months but one of the requirements is no criminal convictions. So, that 40 percent that has been In prison or served community sentences are not eligible for those jobs,” Mr Workman says.

He wants to see some independent research on the implications of Maori being six times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Maori.


Tariana Turia is giving warning the Maori Party will oppose any moves to hit beneficiaries harder.

The government's Welfare Working Group report due out today is expected to recommend radical changes to the way benefits are managed, and even a new agency to target those most likely to become long-term beneficiaries.

Mrs Turia, whose portfolios include the community and voluntary sector, disabilities, social development and employment, says many beneficiaries are feeling extremely vulnerable.

“We only have to look at the numbers of families who no longer can afford to feed their children. I know everyone gets on the bandwagon and says oh, they drink, they smoke, they do all these things, but the fact is many families who don’t do those things are struggling to provide for their children in a way all of us have a right to,” she says.

Mrs Turia says she'd like to see recommendations about getting the young into work rather than seeing Maori go straight from school to the dole.


Taranaki is in mourning for Parihaka elder Lindsay MacLeod, who died in the weekend in his 75th year.

Relative Ruakere Hond says Mr MacLeod was raised by adoptive elders at Parihaka and was steeped in the traditions of the pa.

When he returned to the province in the 1970s to run the Maori Affairs department's trade training programmes, he became the key link between tangata whenau and the wider community, including the oil industry and local government.

Mr Hond says he had a particular knack for defusing conflict and overturning stereotypes.

“When issues were raised he was able to break those down into bite sized chunks and discuss those with those groups and in most situations he was able to get really good communication to take place. He communicated very easily. He was able to explain things in ways that others would get very angry with. He was very patient in that way,” Mr Hond says.

Lindsay MacLeod will be taken onto the marae at Parihaka this morning, and his funeral will be on Thursday.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good organisation can win Maori seats

Retiring Labour MP Mita Ririnui says the party has a good chance of winning seats back from the Maori Party in November's election.

Mr Ririnui is standing down after two terms as Waiariki MP and two terms as list MP, with the party choosing 46 year old Rotorua lawyer Louis Te Kani to take on the Maori Party's te Ururoa Flavell.

He says as Maori wake up to the fact the Marine and Coastal Area Bill does more damage to their customary rights than Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act, sentiment is changing, and it's becoming anybody's race.

“Good organization, a good hard campaign on the ground could turn it around. I think all the Maori members feel that way and I can see the worried looks on the Maori Party incumbents, particularly Te Ururoa Flavell, given that he was the one that lodged the complaint of Hone Harawira and now the question is being asked, ‘why do you do that in election year?’ Is that dumb or what? Because Hone’s not the sort of person that is going to lay down,” Mr Ririnui says.

Meanwhile, Labour's Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee is tonight confirming its candidate to contest the Auckland-based Maori seat, with list MP Shane Jones the only applicant.


A member of the Alternative Welfare Working Group says the Maori Party's preoccupation with internal rifts means it has been neglecting its constituents.

The party's disciplinary committee met in Auckland today to consider whip Te Ururoa Flavell's complaint against Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.

Mamari Stephens says the outcome of that process is likely to have far less impact on Maori than the government's Welfare Working Group, whose report due tomorrow is expected to recommend extensive changes to the benefit system.

“The Maori Party may be distracted if you like from what I think is a critically important issue for many Maori so we don’t hear a lot of comment from the Maori Party and also internally with the Maori party there are differences as to what the best solutions are to stopping Maori being on benefits long term, even what benefits should exist for example,” Ms Stephens says.

She wants to see partnerships with iwi organisations to tackle unemployment.


Judge Pou Temara says Te Maataarae i Orehu were clear winners of Te Matatini 2011 because of their innovation and creativity.

He says the judges were united that the Te Arawa group's performance was a step above runners-up Te Waka Huia from Tamaki Makaurau and Te Whanau a Apanui.

“They just pitched it so high it would have be difficult for any other team to aspire to that high level, It has to do with innovation, It has to do with creativity, It has to do with taking the culture to the line,” Mr Temara says.

Te Mataarae i Orehu under leader Wetini Mitai has a record of pushing the boundaries of performance.


On the eve of the report back of the government's Welfare Working Group, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she's hoping for constructive ideas about getting Maori into work.

Mrs Turia, the associate minister of social development and employment, says she would be opposed to moves which would disadvantage beneficiaries who are already struggling.

But she says it's not enough to just put young people on the dole.

“I don't think it’s good for any kid to leave school and go directly onto an unemployment benefit. We’re starting to see families where this has become the third generation and that means people have lost the sense of purpose and hope that they can work,” Mrs Turia says.

However she is strongly opposed to single mothers being forced into the workforce.


Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is denying he ever authorised anyone to offer New Zealand First leader Winston Peters a foreign posting.

Mr Peters, who held the portfolio between 2005 to 2008, says he saw the offers in 2009 and last year as attempts to get him out of politics and out of the country.

He says while he didn't talk to Mr McCully directly, after 30 years in politics he can read the signs.

“They came with the authority of Murray McCully and no one would make that sort of indirect approach without that they knew they had the authority of the leader. That’s what I’m putting into perspective here,” Mr Peters says.

A spokesperson for Mr McCully says the minister's practice is to personally offer people an ambassadorship, rather than make the approach through third parties.


The leader of Te Matatini champion Te Maataarae i Orehu says the group is constantly looking for ways to put the lessons of the past into today's language.

Wetini Mitai Ngatai says the winning bracket incorporated battle formations and martial arts as a way to encourage people to exercise.

He says the roopu's radical routines are about finding a balance between old and new.

“Today's world we lean so heavily on the guitar and western scales, beautiful singing, but you can get that in choir competition, opera. That’s where it comes from, but where do we see ourselves as Maori people developing our own songs. That’s what I’m looking for, our own songs, our own way of expressing our Maori identity,” Mr Ngatai says.

He says the strength of kapa haka shows the missionaries' attempts stamp out the traditional way of Maori performance weren't successful.

Peters says he was offered foreign posts

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has accused the government of gross hypocrisy for twice offering him diplomatic postings on two occasions yet rejecting him and New Zealand First as potential coalition partners.

Mr Peters says approaches in 2009 and 2010 through the office of foreign affairs minister Murray McCully to represent the New Zealand government overseas would not have been made without the knowledge of Prime Minister John Key.

“It’s the ultimate in hypocrisy where you wish to put someone in a very important post, where integrity’s important, offshore, but come out and say we don’t want to talk to that person back in New Zealand in terms of coalition governments,” Mr Peters says.

He says the offers, which he declined, were clearly designed to get him out of the way come election time and weaken the vote of the ordinary New Zealander.


Te Matatini kapa haka festival wrapped up in Gisborne yesterday with the Duncan McIntyre trophy for overall winner returning to Te Arawa where the next festival will be held in two years time.

Rain teemed down on the 10,000 who came to see the finals nine groups that took the stage.

The three groups that caught the judges’ minds were Whanau a Apanui from the Mataatua rohe, Waka Huia from Tamaki Makaurai in Auckland and first place, Te Mata I Orehu from Te Arawa and Rotorua.

Te Mata I Orehu’s male leader Wetini Mitai Ngatai and female leader Miriama Hare won the leadership award.

The kapa also won the excellence in te reo Maori award and in a note of sadness at the death of its former female leader, Taini Morrison, there was also some very happy emotion for the group that it is now able to carry the Duncan McIntyre Trophy back to Te Arawa as the national champions.

In spite of the weather the people stayed around to watch all the performances and then a very special moment during the prizegiving, two special mentions were made of Lousie Kingi and Dr Pita Sharples, the only two performers to have performed at every festival since 1972.


Wellington arts company Eko is finding a new audience among migrant communities for its kaupapa Maori plays.

Two Maori and two Somali actors are rehearsing Crossing Lines, a play developed as part of a two-year project to bring together the region’s Maori and Somali communities.

Writer Teina Moetara says they found some common values and traditions, such as the special roles for elders and the use of whakapapa, with young Somalis able to recite their genealogy back 30 generations.

Crossing Lines, which opens on March, will be accompanied by an interactive exhibition of the voices and images of the 400 people who have been part of the project.


Former New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone intends to stand in the coming election.

The two-term list MP in parliament is confident the party will be able to get back over the 5 percent threshold to get into parliament.

He says growing dissatisfaction with the Maori Party could bring back some votes.

“Maori are fairly conservative and to see the happenings to the Maori Party, a number of Maori certainly don’t like it and have indicated they will come back to New Zealand First,” Mr Paraone says.

He hopes the Maori Party board will confirm him as the candidate for Pakuranga where he lives and has previously stood but he doesn't mind what electorate he is asked to contest.


Ben Brown has been awarded the 2011 Maori writer’s residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Auckland.

The Lyttelton author, who has Waikato-Tainui whakapapa, best known for his children's books, non-fiction and short stories, often done in collaboration with his wife Helen Taylor.

During the two-month stay in Devonport he hopes to complete a book of poems about mana inspired by King, who died in 2004.

He also hopes to perform some of the poems while he is at the residency.


Organisers of this year's Te Matatini festival in Gisborne are confident that the world record for the largest haka was beaten yesterday.

Organiser Huia Lloyd says despite heavy rain, thousands stayed on to perform the haka.

The existing record of 3264 was set during a Tainui festival in Ngaruawahia in 2008.