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Maori Party Congratulates Kaumatua for Stand

Maori Party Congratulates Kaumatua for Courage to Make Stand

Tariana Turia, and Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leaders of the Maori Party

Maori Party Relieved that Corrections Department to be Reviewed

Wednesday 24 May 2006

The Maori Party today commended the brave initiative of Te Kaunihera Kaumatua o te Whanganui-a-Tara in taking a stand against the Labour minority Government’s actions in dictating Mäori cultural practice.

“The consistent attack on Maori culture that we have seen on both sides of the House will not be tolerated” stated Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

“Nobody should be redefining cultural protocols and practices of tangata whenua - particularly the State” stated Mrs Turia. “Cultural change is the prerogative of the peoples of that culture only and the state has no business interfering in the right of our people to determine their own ways”.

“We are delighted at the stand that Te Kaunihera Kaumatua o te Whanganui a Tara has taken in challenging the Government in the way in which they have sought to redefine our cultural protocols” stated Dr Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Maori Party and Maori Party spokesperson for Corrections.

Denis Simpson, Chairman of Te Kaunihera Kaumatua o te Whanganui a Tara, has written to every Government Minister stating: “as far as the Kaunihera Kaumatua is concerned, if the Corrections Department will not abide to the correct cultural protocol of a powhiri/whakatau, don’t have the powhiri/whakatau at all”.

Dr Sharples today raised this issue in the House, asking the Minister of Corrections to respond to the call from kaumatua for all Maori staff to boycott powhiri or whakatau created by the Department.

“We totally support the initiative displayed by these kaumatua, who have taken such a strong stand to protect and preserve our own cultural integrity” stated Dr Sharples.

“We believe the message that they are delivering to Government - that cultural practices can not be imposed by a State directive - is a very important one, and we hope the Government will listen”.

”I am relieved to see Mr Matthews taking the issue of the poor performance of his Department so seriously, and this afternoon, calling for a review” added Dr Sharples.

“I have already indicated to Mr Matthews that the Maori Party is willing to work with him, in regard to Maori cultural protocols, to ensure we can satisfy all parties” concluded Dr Sharples. “That commitment still stands”.


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