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Flavell: Dog Control Amendment Bill

Dog Control Amendment Bill (no 2)

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member for Waiariki

Thursday 13 December 2007

I want to acknowledge Mr Brownlee and note that he had a bit of a “wuff” night.

I’m going to tell you a story, Mr Speaker.

In the heart of the Waiariki electorate, an hours drive south-east of Rotorua, there lies a small township with ‘wuffly’ two thousand people.

The township is the doorway to a region full of beautiful native bush, rivers, forest and farmland.

Within the rohe are the marae of Moewhare, Tipapa, Rangitahi and Painoaiho. This, Mr Speaker, is the tribal nation of Ngati Manawa.

And beside them, is the nation of Ngati Whare who acts as kaitiaki of the lush natural forests of Whirinaki – Te Whaiti Nui a Toi – Te Urewera.

There is also the legendary Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau.

This is the township, Mr Speaker, of Murupara.

An awesome little town, and great people there.

But in April of this year, Murupara was known for only one thing.

On the 21st of April, Virginia Ohlson lost her life after being attacked by a pitbull and Staffordshire cross belonging to her nephew.

The country watched with horror as the story unfolded about how it came to be that a fifty-six year old mother was mauled to death by an unregistered dog, literally in her own backyard.

But it didn’t stop there.

Two days later an 85-year-old Auckland woman was bitten in the face by a Rottweiler in a supermarket car-park.

And exactly one week after the fatal attack in Murupara, eight year old Jackson Williams and fifteen year old Te Aroha Pukuivi, were attacked by two pitbulls in South Auckland, leaving the youngest hospitalised.

Mr Speaker, these attacks reinforce the need for owners to register their dogs and keep them fenced and under control.

In all of the April attacks, it was unregistered dogs that caused the problems.

And if there are any positives from this situation, there is one.

The owners of the dogs who were the cause of the maulings in Murupara and South Auckland, did stand up and take responsibility. They were prepared to face the consequences of the dog attacks.

This Bill makes it clear that the responsibility for the control of menacing dogs is a collective responsibility.

The Bill will establish new opportunities for central Government to work proactively with local government to discuss dog policy matters.

It requires each Council to take the initiative in adopting a policy relating to dogs.

It also establishes a new classification which makes it utterly clear that a dog owner must not allow a dog, classified as a menacing dog, to roam at large without being muzzled.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party appreciates the fact that the Bill takes into account the need for transitional provisions. We believe that the capacity for owners to make the appropriate adjustments within the timeframe of a six month period is a reasonable measure and we hope that it will assist compliance with this Bill.

Mr Speaker, I am not going to take more time than necessary to express our support for this Bill to go to select committee.

But I do just want to end on a positive note, in referring to a document entitled Murupara Dreaming, which reflects the current initiatives across this community to make a difference.

The document I am talking about refers to the community of, and I quote,

“determination, passion, people stepping up and leading, people who can be bothered and people who truly care.

This is because, through this process, we have seen ways to lift our community, we have seen the opportunities for ourselves and for our moko, taiohi and whanau, and we’ve realised that no one can change things as much as we can change things for ourselves”.

Mr Speaker, these words from Jacob Te Kurapa of the Whakatane District Council, reinforce for me, the potential that all our communities have to take leadership amongst their people, and make progress across all areas.

For me this is reflected in Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau, a special character school in Murupara, where celebrating Ngati Manawatanga is a way of life.

Te Reo Irirangi o Tawhiuau 99.7FM, based at that kura, is their link into the community and broadcasts every day, because of the volunteers and community spirit.

Actually the students of the school are the backbone of the station, using te reo Maori throughout the day.

The enthusiasm reflected in Murupara and expressed in the Community Report I referred to earlier, is indeed a positive context for reading the Dog Control Amendment Bill (no 2) and gives us all the confidence we need, to know that local solutions can and are the best approach for local problems.

We support this Bill to Select Committee.


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