26 Feb 2015

Minister surprised at hui topics.

9:19 pm on 26 February 2015

Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell says he's surprised planned changes to laws covering Maori land and the language have not been the focus of his nation-wide hui.

Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell has been holding a series of regional hui.

Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell has been holding a series of regional hui. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

Wellington's just had its turn and people travelled for hours to come to the capital to speak to him.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

Te Ururoa Flavell Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Some were simple requests for the minister to visit their marae and see their work, and some were for more resources for mentoring youth.

Speakers included a 16-year-old rangatahi from Wainuiomata who said she and her friends would like their old community centre back.

"They used to host competitions and stuff that used to keep us out of trouble for about three hours because we had stuff to do so we weren't drinking and stuff instead.

"Now we don't have that anymore and we just want something like that where we could go there after school instead of getting bored and getting ourselves into trouble."

Many speakers addressed the minister on a wide range of issues - with a main theme of the evening being Maori business.

Mr Flavell said so much kaupapa had been canvassed at the 12 regional hui held so far.

"In terms of the Maori Language Act, I haven't heard too much about it and people just appreciate the fact we are looking at doing something in that space.

"Main issues have actually been about day-to-day stuff like about kids, and feeding kids, and jobs and supporting initiatives that are positive."

Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell has been holding a series of regional hui.

Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

A Maori food researcher and caterer, Joe McLeod of Ngai Tuhoe, said knowledge of Maori food is scarce in New Zealand and people would be healthier if they were re-educated on how to gather and cook their traditional kai.

"Our marae kai is pure, it is so strong it will kick your ass. You don't need salt. You don't need sugar. And you don't need money. Paleo cookery is right across the country now, it's a buzz word - he aha tērā? [What is that] bush food?"

Mr McLeod said teaching people about kai should be the responsibility of iwi and taught on the marae from an early age.

The ministry, Te Puni Kokiri, is promising to have responses for whanau within a few weeks, and Mr Flavell said he planned on holding hui every six to eight months.

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