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Salient Māori News Items to E 32 21 September 2018

Salient Māori News Items to E 32 21 September 2018

  • Dr Charlotte Severne (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tūhoe) has been appointed as the new Māori Trustee.
  • Meka Whaitiri was fired on Thursday as a Minister of the Crown by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. The decision was made after Prime Minister Ardern received a report into an incident that occurred between Ms Whaitiri and one of her staff on August 27. Ms Whaitiri’s portfolios had included Associate Minister for Crown/Māori Relations along with Minister of Customs, Associate Minister of Agriculture, Associate Minister of Forestry and Associate Minister of Local Government.  Ms Whaitiri will remain as the Member of Parliament for Ikaroa Rawhiti.
  • This week a reporter on mainstream radio, Heather du Plessis-Allan, when commenting on Prime Minister Ardern’s visit to Nauru for the Pacific Island Forum, advised listeners that the nation was a “hell hole” and that the Pacific Islands “are nothing but leeches on us”. When challenged about the inappropriateness of this comment, she sought to clarify that she was referring to the Governments of Pacific Islands, not the people.  In our assessment, Ms du Plessis-Allan’s comments about Nauru and its economic exchange with New Zealand is almost certainty factually wrong, given it was New Zealand and Australia that largely consumed the island’s phosphate resources for agricultural production purposes, without sufficient recompense.  e. the amount of a half pence per ton in 1921, being raised to one and a half pence in 1927 does have strong parallels with early purchases of Māori land, and extreme lowball prices being paid for resources due to uneven negotiation frameworks being set into motion.[1]  Unfortunately for Pasifika peoples, however, there is no equivalent of a Waitangi Tribunal for Nauruan people to raise this matter with the New Zealand Government now, nor for others such as Samoan people to raise issues of historic incidents of New Zealand Police brutality, etc.  Given du Plessis-Allan’s comments, then perhaps there should be a parallel Pasifika Commission of Inquiry to address such matters to clarify how New Zealand has used Pasifika Islands for resources, labour, defence, and other purposes.  Moreover, however, along with the ill-formed and offensive comments about other Pasifika nations, we consider Ms du Plessis-Allan also makes an incorrect assumption that New Zealand is not a Pasifika nation in and of itself; i.e. her statement indicates no acknowledgement that Aotearoa is the south edge of Pasifika and that Māori are part of Polynesia.
  • This week celebrations of the Women’s Suffrage Movement have been held, as it is 125 years since New Zealand women won the right to vote – i.e. 19 September 1893. Accordingly, from then Māori women were able to vote for Māori men who were standing for election in one of the four Māori Parliamentary seats, established earlier in 1876.  In 1919 women won the right to stand for Parliament in New Zealand, and the first Māori wahine to attempt to do so was Rehutai Maihi, in 1935.  In 1949, following the death of her husband, Potiki Ratana, Iriaka Ratana became the first Māori woman to succeed at winning a seat in Parliament.  Later, in 1972, Whetu Tirikatene became the first wahine Māori member of Cabinet.  The first wahine Māori Prime Minister is yet to be determined.
  • This week the Government’s tax working group has released an interim report. We are reviewing this for implications for Māori, in particular Māori land tax issues, etc.
  • Ngāi Tahu Tourism has announced that it is adjusting wages to ensure all staff are paid at least the living wage of $20.55 per hour.
  • The Māori Carbon Foundation has selected Donna Awatere Huata as their first Māori Climate Commissioner. The role is designed to facilitate opportunities for Māori to learn about climate change.    Ms Awatere Huata has a controversial past, including being convicted and jailed for fraud in 2005.  (Equally she has a history as a Māori rights activist, a writer,  and as a former Member of Parliament.)
  • On Wednesday the Equal Pay Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament. The purpose of this bill is to improve the process for raising and progressing pay equity claims, and to eliminate gender discrimination in the areas of remuneration and employment terms and conditions for work done within female dominated jobs. We note this bill should have a positive effect for Māori as wāhine Māori are, collectively, one of the lowest paid groupings within the workforce.

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_80319/equal-pay-amendment-bill

[1] This is the amount the British Phosphate Commissioners paid; the New Zealand Government was a part of this board.

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