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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 05, 2007

Peace breaking out in Bay

It's been a relatively low key day at Waitangi, as people gather for tomorrow's Waitangi Day commemorations.

At the lower Te Tii Marae, scene of many past clashes between politicians and protesters, a tent was set up for discussion of a wide range of issues.

Waatea News reporter Marire Kuka says frequent showers driven by a warm wind off the Bay of Islands didn’t deter a crown of about 1500 people at Te Tii.

The morning’s events were focused on the launch of the waka Hinemoana, which was then put through its paces around the bay by a mixed crew of men and women.

A range of speakers put their views on political and constitutional issues to the small audience in the marquee on the marae ground, including Taranaki kaumatua Huirangi Waikerepuru who brought the message of peace north from Parihaka, saying every iwi should come up with its own plan for peace for the local community to achieve.

Indications are this Waitangi Day should have fewer fireworks than earlier celebrations.

ACTIVIST WANTS POLICE BAN

Ban undercover police, not the media.

That's the response of Tuhoe activist Tame Iti to an attempted ban on mainstream media by elders at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi.

Mr Iti, who has had more run ins with both the police and the media than most, says the media can be a useful tool to get Maori messages across.

He says at least the media are visible, unlike some members of the police force.

“I'm not there to tell the Tai Tokerau people how to deal with it, but for me personally I think the first thing they need to ban the police posing as undercover on the marae, taking photos of people like myself and many others they see as a potential stirrer. That’s more a concern for me than the media,” Mr Iti says.

ARTISTS WAKING UP TO COPYRIGHT RISK

The head of the Maori Trademarks Advisory Committee says more Maori artists are realising the need to protect their work from commercial exploitation.

Karen Waaka presented a paper on Maori intellectual property at an international forum in Sydney last week.

She says the digital age makes it much easier for unscrupulous operators to copy and distribute images.

Ms Waaka says Maori artists are starting to come to terms with how vulnerable their work is to being ripped off, and are doing something about it.

“Far more of our artists are being aware of what the copyright process is and just remembering to put a © and putting their name and the year when it is they created it on all of their works, whether they’re just doing it casually within whanau, communities or whether they are actually producing them for exhibitions or for export and trade,” Ms Waaka says.

LOWER MARAE SUFFERING FROM DIMINISHED MANA

People heading for Waitangi have been bypassing the Te Tii Marae in what is being seen as a slight to hui organisers.

In past years all official visitors to the treaty commemorations have recognised they need to be welcomed to the area first by Ngapuhi at the lower marae before heading up to the Treaty Grounds.

But calculated insults to some guests from both protesters and marae speakers means many politicians, including Prime Minister Helen Clark, refuse to set foot through the gates.

Northern kaumatua Kingi Taurua says Ngapuhi needs to sort itself out.

“The marae has lost its mana and certainly I think people are actually bypassing the marae to go up to the top, not only the Pakeha but also Maori. There are some Maori up the top who didn’t come ionto the marae, they bypassed it. So I would say the mana perhaps of the marae has actually lost it,” Mr Taurua says.

National Party leader John Key, Northland MP John Carter and some Green MPs were welcomed on this afternoon, but Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia turned back because he did not want to go on at the same time as the Opposition leader.

KEY SAYS FORESHORE BILL WRONG APPROACH

Come up with a better idea and we'll think about it.

That is the challenge National Party leader John Key is giving the Maori Party over its Foreshore and Seabed Act repeal bill.

Mr Key says the decision by National not to back the bill shouldn't spell the end to relations between the two parties.

He says all the Maori Party bill does is return the situation back to where it was in 2003, when the Court of Appeal ruled the Maori Land Court could investigate whether Ngati Apa plaintiffs had customary title to foreshore and seabed in the Marlborough Sounds.

And the problem was that it didn’t resolve anything. It took everything back to where we were which would have required new legislation of which there were no solutions and no suggestions at that point. I have no doubt that this issue will be raised again. I have no doubt there are other solutions that will be promoted,” Mr Key says.

MAORI SEAT PLAN WEDGE ISSUE

The Prime Minister says the National Party plan to scrap the Maori seats is deliberately divisive.

Helen Clark says as with his talk of an underclass, National leader John Key is using code words to attack Maori at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Ms Clark says Labour will stick with the current system, which gives Maori the chance to go on or off the Maori electoral roll after every five year census.

“It may be over time that fewer will. It may be over time that more will. But is has long been our position that that this is a decision for Maori, and I personally think it would be a very backward step four our country if a parliament with obviously a non-Maori majority were to legislate the seats out of existence without Maori wanting that,” Ms Clark says.

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