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Keep Maori Art And Whaling Separate - Greens

The Green Party today congratulated Prime Minister Helen Clark for stopping the Te Puni Kokiri whalebone art workshop being held in conjunction with a pro-whaling conference in Nelson next month.

However Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she still wanted to see the workshop proceed, just at another time and place.

"The Green Party is strongly supportive of Maori access to bone from beached whales for traditional carving," said Ms Fitzsimons. "It is an important part of our cultural and artistic heritage, has spiritual importance to Maori, and has economic potential for Maori development.

"We want Maori artists to be able to make a living from their art and to exhibit and sell overseas. Unfortunately this is severely limited by the International Convention on the trade in Endangered Species - CITES - which prohibits trade in species which are threatened," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said that just as there are certification systems for the way food is grown, and certification for forest products not obtained from old growth forests and fish not caught by drift nets are being developed, there should be a system of certification of whalebone taken only from whales which die on our beaches.

"Such certification should automatically exclude bone from nations who hunt whales, as it would not be possible to confirm its source. This would provide an economic benefit for non-whaling nations to offset against the money Japan and Norway, for example, make from whaling," she said.

"This workshop was planned to discuss some of these pressing issues for Maori and we think they should be discussed - but not at a time and place that strongly suggests support for harpooning whales.

"I have offered to work with Maori who wish to find a way of pursuing their craft that does not weaken the Treaty or its enforcement, or imply support for whaling. I hope the Government will support this too," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090


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