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Key Announces Maori Jobs Forum At Ratana

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

By Grant Fleming of NZPA

Ratana, Jan 23 NZPA - Maori will have their own jobs forum as a forerunner to the Government's February jobs summit, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key used the annual pilgrimage of MPs to Ratana Pa today to announce the forum, which will be held next week and chaired by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

Mr Key also used the visit to announce that the Maori sovereignty flag would fly at Parliament and Premier House as well as on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day next year.

Political leaders descend on Ratana Pa, near Wanganui, every January as part of three days of celebrations marking the birth of the founder of the religious movement, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Mr Key -- who was hailed by Ratana speakers as the first National prime minister to visit the celebrations -- received a warmer than usual welcome with two speakers thanking him for doing a deal with the Maori Party that put them in government.

But Mr Key warned Maori that due to the global recession the next year would not be easy.

He said Maori already earned less than Pakeha and a greater proportion of them were in vulnerable unskilled jobs.

"We will need to work hard on this together to get through this together."

He said that would start with the Maori jobs forum.

A spokesman for Dr Sharples, said the forum would be held at Te Puni Kokiri on Wednesday.

Both he and Mr Key were unable to say who would attend.

But Mr Key also encouraged Maori to take personal and collective responsibility for their own health and education and social problems.

He said that would produce far more powerful results than any government programme.

On the issue of the Maori flag, Mr Key said he expected a strong reaction from some people, but when it was reflected on two years later it would be seen as a storm in a teacup.

Labour leader Phil Goff was welcomed on to the marae earlier in the day.

He received a polite reception, but also some stern words from Ratana speaker Ruia Aperahama, who said that, in doing a deal with the Maori Party, National had given Maori something Labour had failed to do in 80 years.

Speaking afterwards Mr Goff said the comment was unfair as the Maori Party had been around for only two terms.

Labour had a strong record for Maori, which was reflected in its strong party vote among Maori.

He used his speech to spell out Labour's recent record in government of more than halving Maori unemployment, almost doubling of the minimum wage and strengthened housing, health and education services.

He questioned National's ability to deliver on its promises.

Both leaders attended with large delegations.

Mr Goff was accompanied by about 20 MPs including his deputy Annette King, finance spokesman David Cunliffe and former Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen.

Mr Key was accompanied by 26 other National MPs, United Future MP Peter Dunne and Maori Party MPs Dr Sharples, who he walked alongside on to the marae, and Te Ururoa Flavell and Hone Harawira.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia was present on the Ratana side. Ratana Pa is in her electorate.

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