Saturday, November 7, 2009


So Hone Harawira took time off from a conference to tour Paris with his wife Hilda, so what? If Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith deems it necessary that the Tai Tokerau MP pay back some of the money given to him for the trip to the EU conference then Hone will pay it back, no problem. Does Hone Harawira need to apologise for bunking off to Paris, no. Why not? Because in the bigger scheme of things it’s not a big deal.

Does Hone Harawira need to apologise to Buddy Mikaere for the offensive email, yes I think he does. Does Hone need to apologise to anyone else for the contents of that email, no he doesn’t. The email was an exchange between him and Maori Party supporter Buddy Mikaere. If the latter deemed it necessary to hand the missive to a third party then that’s his prerogative. But the diatribe was directed at the tribal leader no one else. Should an MP of any ethnicity have written such an email, probably not.

The thing about Hone Harawira is that what you see and hear is what you get. Hone was born into activism, grew to become an activist and has matured into a veteran activist. He has dedicated his life to his people, to championing Maori issues, addressing Maori concerns and fighting what he and many others including his Maori Party colleagues consider injustices against tangatawhenua. For all his efforts the people of Te Tai Tokerau have rewarded him with their support not once but twice and two terms in parliament.

For his deeds, some would call Harawira, militant. Certainly others would call him revolutionary, you’ll even hear many of his supporters call him hero. What Harawira is, is fearless. He represents a certain breed of Maori, dedicated and focussed, passionate to the point of being articulately aggressive in his determination to promote the Maori cause. What the former St Stephen’s Maori Boy’s School pupil who grew up in Avondale Auckland is; is no hypocrite.

It is this staunchness that makes him a perfect Maori Party MP. But how staunch is the Party? Co-Leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have a tough job on their hands, not with Harawira but with trying to balance the pressures of being in a coalition partnership with the Government. There is no doubt that Turia and Sharples would never have written or uttered the words that appeared on the Mikaere missive, the pair come from a more genteel, generous generation. But nor do they censure the passionate discourse of their people, Harawira included. So how do they appease their centre-right partners while not appearing to compromise to the point of ‘selling out’.

The Party is preparing for a disciplinary hui with the Tai Tokerau MP, no doubt there will be representatives from the wider Maori community who will insist on speaking in support of Harawira and the Party. I doubt anyone at that hui will call for his sacking and nor will Harawira resign, that would be political suicide for the Maori Party. Vacating the seat will result in a bi-election and neither the Maori Party nor Harawira will allow that to happen. As for jumping waka, that won't happen. Harawira is Maori, not a Green Party, Blue or Red Maori - just Maori.

The Maori Party and Harawira will hui, korero and discuss flax-roots kaupapa. They will remember why the Party was established and what they campaigned on. They will discuss what is of value to them and whether or not they have stayed true and loyal to the original kaupapa. They will discuss whether they have drifted off course in order to effect change as a coalition partner.

Hone Harawira is a constant reminder to the Party of their roots and sometimes it’s an uncomfortable reminder.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009



I was invited to speak at the FOMA (Federation of Maori Authorities) conference in Wellington last weekend. I lovingly refer to FOMA as the Maori Surf and Turf club because the affiliated organizations are in the main primary producers in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture. Yes culture is alive and well in the Maori business sector.

FOMA reckons it’s the largest Maori business network with a voluntary membership of Maori Incorporations, Land Trusts, Trusts Boards and Runanga, and emerging communally owned entities. It’s FOMA’s job to foster and promote the development, sound management and the economic advancement of Maori Authorities which then positively impacts on iwi.

According to its website Federation membership is open to Maori Authorities: organizations established to manage communally owned assets. In the main these are Trusts and Incorporations governed by Te Ture Whenua Maori /Maori Land Act 1993, and Trust Boards and Runanga under the Maori Trust Board Act. It’s also open to business interests that have a majority shareholding or are wholly owned by a Maori Authority. FOMA includes Treaty settlement entities and entities formed by individual statute.

What impressed me most is the collective wealth of the 50 or so groups gathered at the Duxton Hotel totals around $17 billion and growing. A significant amount of this is of course comes from Treaty Settlements. Many of iwi receive their settlement and then sit on it, watching it gain minuscule interest - but interest none the less.

Settlements completed so far: Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika: $25 million
Central North Island Forests Iwi Collective $161 million. Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu $38.6 million. Te Roroa $9.5 million. Ngati Mutunga $14.9 million. Te Arawa (Lakes) $2.7 million (plus $7.3 million to capitalise the annuity Te Arawa received from the Crown and address any remaining annuity issues). Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi $31 million. Tuwharetoa (Bay of Plenty) $10.5 million. Ngati Awa $42.39 million. Ngati Tama $14.5 million. Ngati Ruanui $41,000,000. Te Uri o Hau $15,600,000. Pouakani $2,650,000. Ngati Turangitukua $5,000,000. Ngai Tahu $170,000,000. Te Maunga $129,032. Rotoma $43,931. Waimakuku $375,000. Waikato/Tainui raupatu $170,000,000. Ngati Whakaue $5,210,000. Hauai $715,682 Ngati Rangiteaorere $760,000. Commercial Fisheries $170,000,000.

These sea and land people are by nature and bitter experience conservative risk adverse organizations. Some iwi like Waikato Tainui took bad advice and invested unwisely in Pubs and Rugby League teams, while others invested in aqua-farms are yet to see returns on their investments. But Maori are traditionally ‘long-haul’ people. They go into the future looking generations ahead and so while their investments may not pay off this week or next week, they will pay off.

This long vision approach to life doesn’t satisfy the social watch-dogs who say Maori need assistance now with poor statistics in health, housing, education, and the whole socio-political gamut of dysfunctionality. They’re right of course. Maori do need help now, and tribes are assisting their people through educational scholarships and iwi based health initiatives. There could be more assistance but to blow whole Treaty Settlements now on albeit worthwhile social woes is negligent. Settlements is for the benefit of all especially future generations. It’s the tribes’ responsibility to create generational wealth and that means investing in long term initiatives including sustainable horticultural ventures like Te Waka Kai Ora in Nga Puhi.

So back to the FOMA hui which incidentally was called ‘Future Frontiers’ and featured about 20 speakers both Maori and Pakeha including 2-degrees Mobile Communications CEO Eric Hertz, Fisher Funds Managing Director Carmel Fisher, Trevor Moeke from Te Whare Wananga o Aotearoa and Mike Pratt Saatchi and Saatchi New York. The kai was fantastic, given that it was a hui for surf and turf folk it was expected the kaimoana fresh and varied and the selection of meats just as assorted.

The only thing I found slightly ‘odd’ about the 3-day hui was the dearth of waiata. I counted only three waiata sung at the Duxton all on the final day at the poroporoaki. I hope we don’t become so slick at doing the business and talking the corporate-speak that we forgo or forget waiata. Waiata is what keeps us grounded in whakapapa and reminds us why we’re all doing the business.

Maori have this uncanny knack of planning ahead – generations ahead. They do this by focussing on past injustices and slowly stripping back the layers using the law, the moral high ground, activism and even humour to get to the original source of discontent. Once Maori reach the affected area it’s a build back up strategy employing both tikanga Maori and Pakeha kawa. It’s a long haul approach to life, which confounds, mystifies, and downright befuddles Pakeha and quite a few Maori too I might add.

Now take last week’s shambles over the television rights to broadcast the Rugby World Cup. Everyone knows the background and then the subsequent arguments so I won’t relitigate these. Just to say that some of the arguments boarded on stupidity ie: the 10% Maori language in broadcasts means ‘…we won’t understand, what’s going on..’ 10% in TV language is about 10 words every half hour. While other arguments were ignorant ie: ‘…$3million of tax payers money going on Maori TV.’ The entire RWC campaign will run at a deficit of $32 million and climbing – half of which will be paid off with tax payer money.

For Maori Affairs Minister, Pita Sharples, Maori TV’s bid was about international potential. The potential for Maori to promote its language to the world is obvious while economic spinoffs are evident. The crucial points in Sharples proposal are economic independence – sweet words to right wing capitalists. But it also proved to be the most untenable points for Ministers Brownlee and McCully. Not that these two stalwart Nats want Maori hanging off the government apron strings forever, but neither do they want iwi to make dosh out of this world cup event.

So what’s next? There’s no guarantee the IRB will accept this multi-platform tender. Infact the international rugby board could hold the country to ransom and hike up the price even further.

Maori TV stated they got crumbs out of the broadcast deal. That’s wrong of course, if they got crumbs they would have ended up with less games and no opening ceremony. What they didn’t get was exclusivity full and final. What they did get was public support on top of the already good will they have accumulated over the last five years. Maori TV deserves this good will. They have tried hard and been successful in bringing a wider Maori world to the screen. They have also brought the viewer some insightful and provocative documentaries.

But what Maori TV has failed to do is transfer this good will into bums on couches and eyes on the box. The channel averages 5 thousand viewers per night. The broadcaster's latest accounts show its $37.5 million annual income is almost entirely made up from public funding: $18.1 million from the Government and $16.3 million from Maori broadcasting agency Te Mangai Paho. It also gets about $18 million of Te Mangai Paho's $25 million contestable fund. That’s a total of around $50 million. That means Maori TV spends $10,000 per viewer each year. That’s a lot of entertainment money.

Compare the above figures to say 3News with an average viewership of about 370,000 and ONE News with 600,000, neither of these channels gets $50 million of tax payers’ money – so something is amiss. But what is it?

Could it have something to do with Maori TV’s marketing strategy – or the lack of one? Or could it have something to do with the channel’s lack of understanding of viewer habits? It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with its schedule of programmes. It peaks on days that show cases special events like ANZAC day, Waitangi day, even Sir Howard Morrison’s tangi did well ratings-wise. But the channel can’t leverage off these peaks and push the numbers across the week. Its inability to keep viewers hooked must be a reflection of its marketing strategy and its inability to predict then influence viewing patterns and habits. After 5 years of being on air 5000 viewers is pitiful, shocking.

The IRB will be taking this into consideration when it weighs up the pros and cons of the tender submissions. The money-focussed rugby group won’t want its prized world event to be a guinea pig experiment for a channel of 5000. It’s a high risk business case.

Monday, October 5, 2009


David Tua is a good boy. Good on many levels. He’s a patriotic New Zealander and Samoan. He’s a loyal and proud South Aucklander. He’s a courteous and respectful son. He’s a committed and devoted husband and father. He’s also staunchly proud of taha Maori as witnessed by his mihi post match. He’s also a good boxer because he beat Kevin Cameron in round one which was officially called seven seconds into round two.

This ‘good-boy’ will eventually win out against the shameless-shysters Kevin Barry and Martin Pugh formerly known as his Managers. The problem is, Tua’s take home purse after the court bout is over and done with will probably be empty thanks to the lengthy drawn out legal fight. The only winners in this sorry saga are Barry and Pugh who copped off with millions previous to this debacle and the lawyers fighting in the respective corners.

The problem started back in 2000 when coach Kevin Barry hired self-made Marketing Manager Martin Pugh. Within 5 years Tua lost everything. Tua trusted these two, to take care of business for him while he concentrated on core business – fighting. But things went awry when he discovered he had lost control of his $20 million earnings after wife Bina and Accountant Jennie Grant raided the offices of Tuaman Inc.

In court documents, Tua accuses Pugh of forgery and misappropriating money in all directions. Records show that Barry took $1.4 million dollars from Tuaman Inc while Pugh $1.2 million. It is also alleged Pugh sucked out hundreds of thousands of dollars furnishing his house and that payments were made to a Vanuatu registered company, Sports Tech, owned by his mate Richard Gregory aka Richard Booth. This dodgy dealer was jailed in 1995 for an insurance scam. Pugh is also alleged to have siphoned over $800,000 to his partner Sally Cross to pay off her business debts.

When Barry and Pugh appeared in Court last year to defend charges against them, some media painted a telling image; “Bleached and greased hair, gold medallions, winkle-picker brogues with white socks and shirts more suitable for a night out clubbing. If they’d wanted to portray the image of wily, slimy creatures that had crawled out from beneath boxing’s nasty underbelly, they were going the right way about it” (Investigate Magazine March 2008).

These are the men that also took Tua to Las Vegas to train for the Lennox Lewis fight. The Prince Ranch was complete with nuclear attack shelter, wild animals, including a lion and tiger, and football field sized bedrooms.

According to Brian Kennedy, an American sportswriter with two decades of experience covering boxing, says Tua's management embraced the showbiz side. "They were caught up in the Las Vegas hype, the Don King's style wafted over Martin Pugh," says Kennedy. He dressed the part, played the part, and girls were part of that."

One of those girls was Model Robin Reynolds. Remember her? She gained notoriety after a fling with pop star Robbie Williams in 2000. Reynolds was part of the Tuaman entourage during Lennox Lewis fight.

According to Robin’s whanau they tried to warn boxer David Tua that his managers were exploiting him. Reynolds' parents, Kevin and Merrilee Reynolds, told the Weekend Herald they unsuccessfully tried to contact David Tua in 2001 on their daughter's behalf after she sacked Pugh as her manager, claiming he owed her $25,000. She was disturbed by comments she overhead Pugh and Kevin Barry made about the boxer and told her father they were using Tua and joked behind his back.

"Robin told me they referred to him as a 'big, ugly gorilla'," Mr Reynolds said.

"Robin warned me well before the Tua thing broke that over there in the [United] States Martin Pugh and Barry had discussed Tua and they were saying what a thick dick he was, [how] he wouldn't have a clue how much money he had."

So David Tua will be back in court to battle it out against Pugh and Barry. New Zealand will be backing Tua to win this fight and so he must. If there is any justice in this world David must beat these shysters to show the world that good guys do win.

Monday, August 31, 2009


What kinds of people send death threats to Members of Parliament? What kinds of people send death threats to anyone? Is it sheer madness of mind that these people not realise that what they do is wrong? Or is it mischief making, that they know full well what they do is wrong but the anonymous notoriety gives them some sick thrill and misdirected courage? Why is it that threats like these are always anonymous?

Pillory comes with the territory for those who put themselves in the public arena. These public figures be they, celebrities, politicians or activists are targets with neon lights flashing wildly ‘hit me, kick me, whack me, spit at me.’

Activists like Sue Bradford have always been vilified. She has championed that side of society the conservative sector wishes were invisible, her work with the poor and the Unemployed Workers Union in the 70’s,80’s and 90’s, had her beaten, bashed and thrown in jail. Now her work championing the rights of children has again highlighted the rocky road Sue and her whanau travel, in the pursuit of justice. Abuse and threats aren’t just levelled at the individual they also impact on the person’s whanau and when there are children the affects can be catastrophic and long lasting. Hone Harawira’s children took numerous calls from anonymous voices threatening to ‘blow-your-Fathers- head-off’ and ‘bomb your house’. John Minto’s sons got the same messages.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe, understand or even like her politics, Sue and people like her don’t deserve threats of any kind. Of course centre-right politicians have their fair share of intimidation, bullying and terrorising. I Produced a documentary series some years ago for TVNZ called ‘Politician’s Wife’. Mary English, wife of Finance Minister Bill who was at the time of filming the Prime Minister recalled the time she received a bullet in the letter box. While Lady Thea Muldoon said all private household mail was re-directed by the Diplomatic Squad because of the overwhelming amount of threats they were receiving.

My colleagues and I received threats on a weekly basis for almost seven years. I worked for TVNZ and our programme Marae screened live on Sunday mornings. Each Monday we’d arrive at TVNZ and to the phone logs (this was in the ‘olden-days’ before text, emails, twitter, Facebook BEBO etc). Without fail there would be at least a dozen viewer calls abusing Maori. We were barraged with ‘the only good Maori is a dead Maori’, ‘get those niggers off my screen’, ‘tell me when their next hui is and I’ll drop a bomb on them – get rid of them in one hit.’ Some of these threats were laughable, some shocked us, but rather than cower, tremble and shy away, they had the reverse effect. We became bolder, stronger and more unified and determined in our drive to become more visible to give Maori more opportunities to voice issues their way on their terms.

If those that threatened Sue Bradford think she’ll cower, tremble and shy away – they can’t be more wrong. Sue is an activist,a fighter. What the threats did was validate her, authenticate her cause and probably swing previous fence sitters into her camp.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Is John Key turning into a tekoteko for his conservative ruling class bourgeoisie party, a tonotono for the monied far right, a toothless tiger, a leader without power? Is he nothing more than a puppet?

Could be!

Maori had great hopes for John Key. He wasn’t seen as the saint that would deliver Maori and middle New Zealand from all evil, but he was the ‘change’ the nation was looking for.

John Key the working class boy raised by his solo Mum in Christchurch to become a multi-millionaire, did the phoenix and pulled his party out of the depth of fiery political hell at last year’s election. How did he do it? He did an Obama and called for change. He did what no other National Party had done previously and offered an arm of support to Maori via the Maori Party. He talked about nationhood, "The Treaty envisages all New Zealanders moving forward together, with a shared commitment to the future. I share that vision. National is committed to seeing all Maori enjoying a brighter and more prosperous future." he said.

It appeared as though he was genuine about his rhetoric. He backed it up by giving the Maori Affairs portfolio to Pita Sharples bypassing long term National loyalist Georgina Te Heuheu. He even established a three-person Ministerial panel to consider the state of the law around Maori customary interests in the foreshore and seabed. GOSH! John Key even said yes to a Maori flag on the Auckland harbour bridge and agreed to have hui around the motu to decide on which one.

So you gotta ask…were these ‘acts-of-good-will’ no more than diversions, did National pre-occupy the Maori Party with other pressing issues to divert attention away from Auckland Supercity?

Did he get Hone Harawira out on the flag hui circuit so Rod-the Hide could get a free play of the Auckland sand pit?

Could have!

That’s not to minimise the importance of the work of the Ministerial panel on the seabed foreshore or the hui on flags. It’s just that each time Maori make forward strides there’s a price to pay.

So the questions need to be asked; what was the price for the portfolio, the panel and the hui? Why did he do a flip flop on the Maori Supercity seats? How genuine is the Prime Minister?

When John Key justified his Supercity argument with “We can't implement Maori seats in Auckland because we'd need to do it for the rest of the country”

What he really means is, “…in 2014, National will begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats” That's what he said in September 2008. Either he or the National Cabinet remembered that Maori seats in Auckland goes against the National Government’s long term objectives.

No matter what korero or conversation he’s had with the Maori Party subsequent to September 2008, regarding seats of any kind, the current situation in Auckland is a reminder to iwi to be vigilant.

But if Rod-the-Hide and Cabinet think it’s over it’s not.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has called for a conscience vote over separate Maori seats and encouraged supportive National Party members to cross the floor. In the community Ngati Whatua is considering a second hikoi, and Tainui say they will boycott any weaker, sub-committee, statutory board, advisory commission no-teeth alternative role on offer.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Thank goodness Family Court Acting Head Judge Paul von Dadelszen called for gay, lesbian and unmarried couples to be allowed to adopt children.

My wife Nadine and I are affected by the ‘Adoption Act’ an outdated, discriminatory Act that breaches the Bill of Rights Act, the Human Rights Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We have a beautiful little girl Manawa a whangai given to us at her birth by Nadine’s sister and her partner. Now 15 months old, our little bundle was named in recognition of the generosity and purity of kindness shown to us by her birth Mummy and Daddy. Such an overwhelmingly loving and unselfish an act any human could give others to express their love.

Even though Nadine and I are married under Civil Union, it means nothing because we are Lesbian. We are not recognised as a couple under this current Adoption Law and therefore only one of us can adopt Manawa.

Manawa has two brothers 9 and 7, both outstanding sports players like their birth Mummy Nadine. The boys spoil their little sister and she returns their love with gurgles, giggles, slaps, and tantrums. She is truly a princess.

Of course I didn’t realise the Adoption Act prevented joint adoption until Manawa was about 3 months old. I applied for an Adoption with Family Lawyer Ross France from South Auckland, who informed me of the Law. I immediately thought of the legal ramifications this would have for our little girl if anything happened to either myself or Nadine. If there was no joint-adoption our little princess would need to rely on her brother’s love and their moral sibling obligation to allow her access to our estate. Dare I say it – it’s also about ownership. Manawa will be our baby legally; Nadine and I will be in the eye’s of the law equal parents. If heaven forbid anything happens to us as a married couple both of us will be guaranteed access to our daughter. It’s crucial that this law is repealed on many levels.

As far as being a unit; we are a non-smoking, non-drinking whanau a decision Nadine and I made to ensure the kids are brought up in a clean, positive and optimistic environment. We are good parents, we don’t smack or bash the kids, and we don’t swing them on the clothesline or spin them in the drier. Nadine and I go to parent teacher hui, Nadine goes on class trips and she coaches their sport teams. We are good parents.

But no!

Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North says we’re not because we’re Lesbian.
Bishop Peter Cullinane of Palmerston North said heterosexual couples provided a more suitable way for a child to be raised. "The New Zealand Catholic bishops are concerned about the rights of the adult being given priority over the rights of the child in the current debate about whether the law should change to allow homosexual and de-facto couples to adopt children," he said.

Of course gays have heard all the nonsensical arguments thrown at us by the homophobes to discredit us as parents. According to top Maori gay-basher John Tamihere, “…the kids are more likely to experience deviant sex, more likely to become gay.” Statistics proves him wrong.

Good on Gay Green MP Kevin Hague who submitted the Act as a private member's bill proposing changes to the Law. It went into the ballot at Parliament yesterday and although it may not be drawn for some time, at least it’s there. Labour Party’s Justice spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel also supports same-sex adoptions and called for a complete overhaul of the Adoption Act.

Fingers crossed for all good gay whanau.


Good on brother Tau Henare blowing the whistle on ACT Leader Rodney Hide. The National Party list MP spilled the beans on Rod’s threats. The thing about Henare is that he is the government, unlike Rod who signed up to the governing party. So if John Key calls the bluff on the 1% poll pulling party leader – Henare will still be there governing. Remember Henare’s the one that stepped out Mallard a couple of years back after the Labour MP took offence to a sly personal comment.

In addition, Henare is an Aucklander from the West. He and his whanau have contributed to the community at flaxroots via kohanga and kura. Like all other Maori in Tamakimakaurau Henare has a vested interest in the City and its future.

So Henare has plenty of fight in him and so too do Maori.

This fight isn’t over until it’s over.

The issue of mana whenua seats is about money – big money. $28 billion of assets is at stake here and there’s no way Rod wants tangatawhenua snooping around those assets. What will happen if mana-whenua representatives oppose the privatisation of previously run council services, what happens if they oppose any port of Auckland developments? Mana whenua opposition will cost the Supercity minders billions of dollars of profit, money and assets that belong to the people.

Rod’s rejection of Maori seats is about money pure and simple.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We have lost many practices associated with customary lore which involves the spiritual realm including Makutu and that’s because we’ve lost much of the knowledge regarding that part of our holistic being.

What we consider to be traditional is now so utterly entwined in post-colonial constructs like Christianity that much of the original essence has been watered down even lost. That’s not to say Makutu doesn’t exist any longer because it does.

Makutu is when physical and psychological harm is inflicted even death through spiritual powers, bewitching and spell casting. The actual practise of Makutu isn’t restricted to Maori many cultures around the world use this and it’s known by whatever name they call it.

The Moses case isn’t the first time Makutu has appeared in a New Zealand court either. Eleven years ago, Paul Martin claimed a Makutu made him attack a friend with a crucifix. The Judge gave him a suspended sentence. In 2001, Brian Aporo claimed he was under a Makutu before he slit the throats of his two children. He was found not guilty but was ruled insane.

There was also the bizarre Makutu of River Queen the Vincent Ward movie made on the Wanganui River in 2005. A local group of Maori announced in a local newspaper that they had placed a Makutu on the film project. The group claimed the filmmakers had violated the Wanganui River, the film's location. Whether it was a result of the Makutu, or not: everything that could have gone wrong with the production did. Its star, Samantha Morton, fell sick. Maori lead actor Cliff Curtis drove his 4WD through a house while texting on his mobile, Director Vincent Ward was fired and replaced by the cinematographer and the film suffered a magnificently huge budget blowout.

In this day and age it’s difficult to judge if one’s afflicted with a Makutu. Unless you know it’s actually been placed on you via, newspaper, text, phone, twitter or facebook, or if a Tohunga (a skilled expert) identifies you’re under the influence of one - the ailment one's suffering may be nothing more than a treatable mental psychoses brought about by the stress of modern day living.

The Moses whanau and their Kaumatua (elder), an Uncle thought Janet was under a Makutu because she stole a statue from a pub. It’s hard to believe that this whanau could have thought the slab of plaster was so tapu (sacred) to cause such grief.

How could they have got it so wrong?

How could they have continued to work on something as taumaha (as heavy) and tapu (sacred) as Makutu without heeding the advice of some pretty heavy weight Tohunga and Kaumatua. There are many Tohunga whose advice they could have sought and a couple of Kaumatua did counsel the whanau, but alas to no avail.

The Pakeha Judge Simon France sentenced the Moses whanau to community service including tikanga training. Pakeha may see this as such a light sentence and some Maori too probably. But I couldn’t think of anything more shameful quite frankly. For a Kaumatua, the patriarch, the leader, the man they looked up too and his whanau to be told by a Pakeha no less to go get better tikanga. Shameful.

This whanau isn’t like the Kahui or Curtis whanau both dysfunctional units who allowed or participated in the brutal killing of their babies. The Kahui and Curtis’ were dislocated from anything Maori. They didn’t participate in hui, Marae, Kohanga, they didn’t korero (speak) Maori. So when Maori Party members went in to see the Kahui whanau, the significance of their presence was totally lost on them. Stripping the Kahui and Curtis whanau of any mana would be a complete waste of time.

The Moses whanau however appear a different lot. I don’t know them but they seem very connected to each other and to taha (things) Maori. They will feel the full impact of the sentence. Attending a tikanga programme questions their mana and quite rightly so. They have been criticised for their naivety by known and reputable Tohunga (spiritual experts) and Kaumatua from iwi around the country. These criticisms as well will be heavy shackles of great spiritual burden that not only these five but also their extended whanau will carry for a long time to come.


So Labour MP Trevor Mallard thinks the whanau of five in the Janet Moses High Court case, escaped prison because they were Maori.

"I am certain that a Pakeha exorcism that resulted in torture and death would result in a prison term - albeit not necessarily a long one.

The fact that they weren’t sent to prison because they are Maori just doesn’t seem right to me."

He’s so wrong. The Moses whanau were lucky to have escaped jail given all the statistics regarding Maori and sentencing.

Relative to numbers in the general population, we Maori are over-represented at every stage of the criminal justice process. We are 12.5% of the general population aged 15 and over, but 42% of all criminal apprehensions are Maori. Our men make up 50% of prison numbers and sadly our women make up about 60% of the female prison population.

So no, this whanau didn’t get slapped with a by-pass-jail-because-you’re-tangatawhenua ticket.

But Mr Mallard likes to slap around the odd Maori. Remember a couple of years back in 2007 he cuffed Tau Henare after the National backbencher teased the then Cabinet Minister about his love-life. The boys took the argument outside, Mallard whacked Henare and the pair had to be prised apart.

A few years before that Mallard tried to pass himself off as tangatawhenua. In a speech he made as Race Relations Minister in 2004 he reckoned, "Maori and Pakeha are both indigenous people to New Zealand now.”I regard myself as an indigenous New Zealander – I come from Wainuiomata."

Yes Mr Mallard certainly is pro-Maori…yeah right!