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Maori Leader Criticises Claims Of Interference

Maori Leader Criticises Claims Of Interference

Claims by Women's Refuge and the Childrens Commissioner of Government interference were politically-motivated and failed to add to the much-needed debate about Maori domestic violence, Maori Womens Development Inc executive director Dame Georgina Kirby said today.

Complaints this week by Women's Refuge head Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Childrens Commissioner Roger McClay against two cabinet ministers had served only to generate publicity for themselves, rather than making a contribution to the abuse debate.

Dame Georgina said she supported Mrs Raukawa-Tait's stance against domestic violence, but not her motives in creating this week's row over interference.

"Mrs Raukawa-Tait is using Maori people's problems to try to raise more funding for her organisation."

Dame Georgina also supported Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia's action in seeking removal of domestic violence statistics from Mr McClay's report on the James Whakaruru's killing.

"That is supposed to be a report on the Whakaruru case, not about the whole violence issue, she said. "Mr McClay himself said the statistics had already been printed, so why did he want to print them again?"

"You have to question his motives too in going public with this considering that he was appointed by the National government."

Dame Georgina also voiced concern about the impact of constant negative publicity against Maori people on Maori children themselves. "I just wonder whether people understand what this does to our children.

"They're blaming Maori per se. Our kids understand English and when they have this negative image hammered at them everyday through radio talkback and television what are they to think.

"For them it's an issue of identity so they take the harassment personally and naturally get angry, although they may not realise why they are feeling these strong emotions.

She said this anger was one of the factors that could lead to violence in schools, which had necessitated some schools to run anti-violence programmes.

Dame Georgina said she was looking forward to discussing these issues at the upcoming Maori Womens Welfare League conference that would include debate about how Maori people could breathe new life back into Maori communities.

"It's a burden all Maori people carry regardless of tribal boundaries," she said.

"The Maori land base lies at the very core of Maori identity and no-one can hope to restore Maori pride, self-esteem and culture unless all New Zealanders are prepared to recognise this."

Ends

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