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Turia: Will anyone pick up this story?

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Will anyone pick up this story?

Tariana Turia; Co-leader of the Maori Party; and health spokesperson

Wednesday 9 August 2006 [World Indigenous People's Day]

Allegations that Maori carry a warrior gene that make them more prone to violence and criminality reinforce the findings from the Special Rapporteur that the media are unbalanced in their treatment of Maori people and issues claims Tariana Turia, Maori Party Co-leader.

"The Special Rapporteur was so concerned about what he called the systematic negative description of Maori in media coverage' that he recommended that the anti-racism provisions of our Human Rights legislation should be called on to address this said Tariana Turia. "He reported that bad news' about Maori, pre-dominated over good news' and this story about the so-called warrior gene' is a classic example

"The over-representation of monoamine oxidase, which is found in similar levels of prevalence in Asian, African and Polynesian populations, and is identified both in females and males, has suddenly turned into a recipe for producing clones of Jake Heke'" said Mrs Turia.

"I've been asked by reporters whether this gene is the reason why we're a violent race'; why we feature so highly in criminality rates', that we are predisposed towards aggression'."

"Reporters could just as easily have asked me, whether this gene is the reason why we've pioneered improvements in agricultural cultivation, we're over-represented in starting a business or the reason why our women are recognised, worldwide, for our distinctive reputations as opportunity entrepreneurs," suggested Mrs Turia.

"The ESR study of medical genetics was focused on susceptibility to tobacco dependence, and as such, analysis of a candidate gene such as this one, may be helpful in considering further treatment options," said Mrs Turia.

"Clearly the lead researcher's comments, suggesting links with criminality, have not been at all helpful, and I would suggest that ESR will need to review their practices in the way it which such comments could lead to racist stereotypes," said Mrs Turia.

"But I would also challenge the media to look in more depth into stories such as this, to ensure a balanced interpretation."

"It reminds me of the words of the late Irihapeti Ramsden at the time of the launch of the novel, 'Once were Warriors' : "Once were gardeners, once were astronomers, once were philosophers, once were lovers'

"The fact that this gene is a predictor of risk-taking behaviour - which is closely associated with entrepreneurship and enterprise - could have been a fabulous lead story" ended Mrs Turia.


Background information

Recommendation 104 from the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen (13 March 2006) is

"Public media should be encouraged to provide a balanced, unbiased and non-racist picture of Maori in New Zealand society, and an independent commission should be established to monitor their performance and suggest remedial action. "

Findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Aotearoa 2005

- 18% of Maori entrepreneurs claim to be using the very latest technology compared to 10% of the New Zealand general population of entrepreneurs.

- Maori women have the world's third highest opportunity entrepreneurship rate (spotting and filling gaps in the market place).

- About 25.0% of Maori versus 13.1% of the general population say they expect to launch a start-up business in the next three years.

- In terms of Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity, Aotearoa (Maori New Zealanders) at 17.7% were surpassed globally only by two other countries (Thailand and Venezuela).


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