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Let Ngati Whakaue Build Their Casino

ACT MP Donna Awatere Huata said Rotorua Maori should be allowed to get on with the job of building a casino.

Mrs Huata, herself of Ngati Whakaue decent, said she would be opposing any extension of the moratorium on casinos until October 2003.

“Ngati Whakaue have been waiting for three years to get approval for their casino investment to go ahead, and in the interim 1,200 pokie machines have sprung up from nowhere.

Mrs Huata said she was angry that some “paternalistic Pakeha” were suggesting Ngati Whakaue had been “duped” into investing in a casino project.

“We are not talking about people who have just come through the investment back door. We are talking about people who control a multi-million dollar land base,” Mrs Huata said.

“They have a vision of a high-class entertainment centre that fits their own kawa (protocol) and they should be allowed to get on with the job.”

Mrs Huata also dismissed concerns that a casino in Rotorua would lead to an increase in gambling problems among local Maori.

“That has not happened in Auckland and Christchurch and there is no reason to suspect it will happen in Rotorua.

“Research shows Maori mostly bet on horse racing and play small-time pokie machines for their gambling entertainment. These forms of gambling are already available in large numbers,” she said.

Mrs Huata said a seven-year research project into gambling commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs showed that casinos had not produced the dire wide-spread gambling problems some people had predicted.


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