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NZAF: 'We're not short-changing Maori'

Fri 15 Dec 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

The chair of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation has today strongly rejected claims that Maori are being short-changed by the organisation. NZAF Board Chair Hoani Jeremy Lambert says he is extremely concerned over incorrect statements made by former chair Clive Aspin regarding NZAF's services for Maori, and a vote at the AGM in November which saw references to the Treaty of Waitangi removed from NZAF's Constitution in favour of a commitment to biculturalism. Aspin claimed last week that NZAF's membership had voted unanimously to remove the Treaty references. “This is a total fiction,” Lambert says. “The membership was divided over this issue, with the final vote 47-42 in favour of removal. We used a single transferable vote system where members ranked a series of options – if only 3 members had ranked retaining the Treaty higher, then the references would have stayed in.” The vote came at the end of an extensive constitutional consultation process this year with both NZAF members and the wider community, including Maori. “Clive had an opportunity, along with other members of the community to make a submission or attend one of several community meetings held on this issue, but he did not,” Lambert says. “In light of that, it seems more than a little mischievous for him to now suggest that NZAF is showing a disregard for the needs of Maori.” Lambert says he was saddened and disappointed by the decision to remove references to the Treaty. “I do not agree with the decision personally and I, together with the Board, worked hard to communicate our desire for the references to remain, with some additions to clarify their implications.” He agrees that it is presently unclear what the favoured option chosen by members, which refers to “working with Maori” and a “commitment to biculturalism”, means. “We'll be relying on a written submission process in the coming months to guide us on this, given the close nature of the vote,” he says. “One thing is certain – Maori do not need to ‘go elsewhere' to get service around HIV-related issues. "As I have said previously, NZAF has successfully worked with and delivered programmes for Maori over twenty years without a clear mandate from its Constitution to do so. This is largely due to the skill and expertise of our Maori staff and the support provided to them from the wider organisation.”     Ref: NZAF (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Friday, 15th December 2006 - 12:00pm

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