Hawkins Misleads on Maori Culture Group

  • Jack Elder

George Hawkins is again causing unnecessary concern and generating an anti-Maori reaction with his inaccurate press statements, Police Minister Jack Elder said today.

"Mr Hawkins said yesterday the Police Te Reo Pirihimana Maori culture group performing at the Australasian Police Olympics in Canberra later in the year will be on full pay with all expenses paid, while Police athletes have to pay their own way and take annual leave."

This is inaccurate, Mr Elder said. The 28 group members will not receive any funding whatsoever for travel and accommodation, but will receive a daily incidental expense allowance of $18.92 each. This adds up to $5300. The only other expense is for the group's tutor, who is having to take leave from her teaching job, and will be compensated $1625 for the 10-day trip.

"This total of $6925 is a far cry from Mr Hawkins' claim of a $60,000 bill, excluding salaries, for the group to travel to the games. The group will be covering its other expenses, including travel and accommodation, by a long fundraising programme of community performances."

Te Reo Pirihimana comprises past and present members of the Auckland Police, as well as their family members. They have done excellent work in promoting a powerful image for the Auckland Police and New Zealand. This has included representing Manukau City and the New Zealand Police at the Korean Commemorations in 1996, Mr Elder said.

The group is attending the Police Olympics at the specific request of the Games Organising Committee, and the visit provides a great opportunity for a positive display of Maori culture. The group has also accepted invitations to perform at other venues during the trip in November.

Mr Elder said New Zealand Police work very closely with their trans-Tasman counterparts, and the appearance of Te Reo Pirihimana at the Police Olympics is an excellent way of strengthening these links.

"Mr Hawkins' comments are an insult to this very popular and dedicated group of people, who have worked hard fundraising for their promotional trip," Mr Elder said.

"Instead of yet again making wild allegations about Police administration, Mr Hawkins would far better serve the country if he supported their work in making communities safer," Mr Elder said.