'Highly respected across the divide of politics' - Winston Peters pays tribute after former Māori Affairs Minister Koro Wētere dies aged 83

Former Minister of Māori Affairs Koro Tainui Wētere CBE has died aged 83.

Mr Wētere died at Te Kuiti Hospital in the King Country this morning with family in attendence.

He was a member of Ngāti Maniapoto and served as an MP between 1969 and 1996 for the Western Māori electorate.

He became Minister of Māori Affairs in 1984 when Labour won the election.

In 1990 he refused to translate his speeches given to parliament in Māori into English - one of many steps he took during his career to push the use of Māori langugage in public.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1996 New Year Honours.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said Mr Wētere was "highly respected across the divide of politics for his sincerity and integrity".

"On behalf of the New Zealand Government I wish to acknowledge the contribution Koro Wētere has made to the country and his remarkable service as a parliamentarian for more than quarter of a century," Mr Peters said.

"He was also instrumental in the complicated resolution of the Maori fisheries settlement during the 1980s.

"His contributions to New Zealand’s modern society include advances in Te Reo language recognition.

"Our deepest condolences are extended to his family and to Ngāti Maniapoto for their loss."

Koro Wētere
Koro Wētere Source: rnz.co.nz


Topics



'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Messages released to 1 NEWS show Massey’s Vice Chancellor had problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was barred from campus talk

Newly released documents show Massey University's Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus.

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence".

Her decision to block the former National and Act leader from speaking drew widespread criticism.

That decision was made public on August 7, and spoke of a great security risk to students, staff and the public. These newly released documents show the lead-up to that decision.

Emails show Professor Thomas weeks beforehand on July 13 saying, "I am still fretting about the student club invitation to Don Brash… I really want to find a way to indicate that Brash is not welcome on campus unless he agrees to abide by our values and the laws against hate speech".

Professor Thomas continued: "My strong preference is that we stop it occurring."

The next day, Professor Thomas wrote in another email: "But we still have a couple of trails of evidence, then we need to speak to [the] politics club, and then refuse entry to campus if students don’t oblige – and be proactive at that point before Brash can get to the media."

Before both those emails, she wrote in another on July 10 that she "wanted to know what our options re not allowing politics club to hold event on campus… Will hit the fan in the media if we go this way".

Newly released documents show Massey University’s Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus. Source: 1 NEWS

When Jan Thomas pulled the plug on Dr Brash's appearance, she said it came after security concerns surrounding a threat involving a gun.

But Police told 1 NEWS at the time they were not contacted before the decision to cancel was made.

The new documents confirm this, with Massey University saying there were no written communications sent or received from the police. In an email to staff, Jan Thomas said she arranged a meeting with local police to discuss security but "before that meeting could take place... I made the decision to cancel the booking of the event on our campus".

Included in the documents is a Facebook user comment about Don Brash's event saying "take a gun".

Mr Brash was due to speak at the university, but had his speech cancelled by Jan Thomas. Source: 1 NEWS

BARRAGE OF CRITICISM

Massey University released several hundred pages of emails to 1 NEWS, showing an onslaught of criticism aimed at the Vice-Chancellor. Some called for her resignation.

Messages left on voicemail spoke of disappointment. "I'm absolutely horrified at the decision… I am very very concerned at the lack of free speech," one caller said.

"My son is due to graduate from college very soon, and we're looking at universities and Massey was one of them, but a little concerned about what I’ve heard about some free speech restrictions on campus," another voice message said.

Emails from former students were also critical.

"As an alumni of Massey University I wish to express my displeasure at your decision to ban former leader of the National Party Don Brash from speaking at Massey University," one wrote.

The University remains at odds with police over claims of security concerns and threats of violence. Source: 1 NEWS

A "proud Massey chemistry alumni" said they were very disappointed to learn that their friend Don Brash "had been deplatformed for his talk".

"I am ashamed to have to tell my friends, associates and colleagues that I am a Massey University graduate from this day forward,"another person wrote.

Another message said they had instructed their Trust not to fund any of their children or grandchildren to attend any programme or course at Massey University. "There are always consequences when you attack the freedoms our family spent so much of our lives to protect," they wrote.

"Please do the honorable thing and resign as Vice Chancellor” another former student wrote. “Massey has lost a great deal of credibility as a learning institution and I’m embarrassed to be associated with my former university."

The former National Party leader and free speech advocate has hit out at the university over its decision. Source: 1 NEWS

A short statement drafted for the university's contact centre to reply to people with said the decision wasn't taken lightly, and that Professor Thomas made the decision taking the gun threat into account.

It further added that "recent events… suggest the current situation is potentially volatile."

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence". Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Loving mother taking severely disabled son to court in a bid to get paid fairly for his care

An elderly Auckland mother is taking her severely disabled son to court for failing to be a good employer.

Diane Moody wants the Employment Court to declare her son Shane Chamberlain isn't capable of employing her.

She said she was reluctant to go to court, but she had no choice because it was the only way to change the system so that she and other families caring for their adult disabled children could be paid fairly.

Diane Moody, 76, cares for her profoundly intellectually disabled son in their home, and she's paid for 21 hours a week at the minimum wage through the Ministry of Health's Funded Family Care scheme.

Under that arrangement her 51-year-old son, who has the mental age of a two-year-old, is deemed to be her employer.

"Shane's not going to be able to do the tax or the ACC or say to me, 'You are my employee so I would like you to do, blah, blah, blah', he's just simply not capable of doing anything like that," she said.

To illustrate her son's lack of comprehension, she said when she raised the prospect of a court case, he asked her what was for dinner.

She said the Ministry of Health knew the employment relationship was a farce and even admitted as much in the Court of Appeal earlier this year, agreeing the relationship was a "mere fiction" and conceding many people with disabilities were so impaired they did not have the mental capacity to employ another person.

"[On] one hand they say, 'Shane and his friends lack the mental capacity to be able to do these things'. But then all of a sudden if it is convenient for them, 'Just let them be the employer, just fill out the forms it will be all right, we know it's illegal and it shouldn't be, but just fill out the forms'," she said.

Shane's advocate, Jane Carrigan said the lack of action since the Court of Appeal case had forced their hand.

"Seven months, all the fake promises issued by the minister and his ministry, nothing has happened. And nothing in all of our dialogue with the Crown and the Ministry has given us any confidence that anything is going to change. In fact reading the documents and the cabinet papers I suspect they are going to try and hold off until the end of 2020," Ms Carrigan said.

The Employment Court action doesn't yet name the Ministry of Health as a party, but Ms Carrigan said that would probably happen when the case began.

She said if the ministry was found to be the employer there would be ramifications as family carers were currently paid the minimum wage, rather than the equal pay rate.

"There are also other things around holiday pay [and] sick leave. You can't tell me the Ministry of Health have not known this all along, they simply have but they just believe they can get away with stuff so they completely ignore court directions, their own concessions in court and they just go off on their own merry frolic, is the only way to describe it" she said.

Mrs Moody first took the case to the Employment Relations Authority, which has referred it up to the Employment Court for a decision.

The Authority said the case had implications for the 354 families who were currently receiving funded family care, as well as the other funding arrangements the ministry had for people caring for the severely disabled.

It suggested trade unions might want to be involved in the case on the wider policy and employment issues.

The Public Service Association said it has had discussions with Etū and the Council of Trade Unions and the three had agreed to be involved, it was just a question of how.

PSA assistant secretary Kerry Davies said the disabled person who was supposedly the employer had no control over the pay rates, hours or conditions, which were set by the Ministry of Health.

"It looks like it's a bit of a device that's been set up to blur responsibilities and in fact shift responsibilities from the actual employer and the funder to people who don't in fact have any control over the core elements of what an employment relationship should involve," Ms Davies said.

Mrs Moody said she would like to see the Health Minister David Clark get involved directly.

"Maybe he'd like to have a cuppa tea and meet Shane and then perhaps he's never actually met these people to realise that they can't be an employer. He's very welcome to come to my home. He's not likely to because he never replies to anybody. But I think they've just got to be realistic about the whole thing, which they're not," she said.

A date is yet to be set for the hearing.

- By Catherine Hutton 

rnz.co.nz

Diane Moody, 76, cares for her son Shane Chamberlain full-time. Source: rnz.co.nz


Suffrage 125: Images from Auckland celebration

Hundreds rose early in Auckland this morning to mark 125 years since women won the right to vote in New Zealand. 

suffrage
Source: Andrew Macfarlane.

Suffrage
Source: Andrew Macfarlane

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greeted the crowd in Aotea Square, telling them the story of her great-great-grandmother Catherine who a Canterbury suffragette, as well as once the greatest female pedestrian (sport walking) in the world.

The PM spoke about New Zealand’s inspirational women in central Auckland today, including one close to her heart. Source: 1 NEWS

The Electoral Act, signed into law on September 19, 1893, gave women over the age of 21 the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Suffrage
Source: Andrew Macfarlane

Today's Sunrise Suffrage Day Celebration saw speeches from Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff and National Council of Women's Carol Beaumont. 

suffrage
Source: Andrew Macfarlane