Curse of ill-will adds extra twist to tobacco submission

By Audrey Young

The parliamentary inquiry into tobacco has had an unusual submission lodged with it - an old Maori curse.

Wellington-based lecturer Amster Reedy sent his submission, an old Ngati Porou makutu, to the Maori Affairs select committee this week.

It is a curse of ill-will, traditionally chanted against one's enemy - and in this case is dedicated to destroying tobacco manufacturers.

Mr Reedy is an authority on traditional culture and has assisted New Zealand sporting teams to master the haka, most recently at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

He decided to submit the old chant to the committee.

In a play on the old tobacco industry mantra, "We reserve the right to sell ..." Mr Reedy said he reserved the "right to spell".

He told the Herald he might not be able to make a personal appearance at the committee because of lecturing commitments in Christchurch.

Committee chairman Tau Henare said it was possible the makutu could be included in the committee's final report.

The committee will report back to Parliament by the end of next month.

National MP Simon Bridges said yesterday that sitting on the inquiry had changed his view on how to reduce smoking - and his support for increasing the excise on tobacco this week.

"If I had thought about this before the select committee inquiry I think I would have taken the view that people are free to do what they like, including being free to be stupid."

He went into the tobacco inquiry "reasonably sceptical".

But it received a huge number of submissions pointing to price rises as an effective way to reduce smoking.

In Parliament this week, Mr Bridges, the member for Tauranga and a Maori lawyer, said smoking was a major contributor to health inequalities for tangata whenua.

Non-Maori males died, on average, at 79, yet the mortality figure for Maori males was 70.4. For women, it was 83 years for non-Maori and 75.1 for Maori.

- NZ Herald

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