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Parekura o te Marea: The Purpose Driven Life

Hon. Nanaia Mahuta - Memorial Speech to New Zealand Child Cancer Foundation

Parekura o te Marea: The Purpose Driven Life

Speech to the New Zealand Child Cancer Foundation on the occasion of the launch of the Chumpchange 12 Week Challenge “13, May 24th 2013


Ehara taku maunga a Hikurangi he maunga nekeneke, he maunga tū tonu. [My mountain Hikurangi does not move, it remains first and steadfast.

Tonight we celebrate Matariki and we remember a man with a big heart and a commitment to serve his people in a very unique way. I offer my condolences to the whānau pani, the people of Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, the people of Te Tai Rāwhiti, of Ngāti Kahungunu, and all the constituents of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

Parekura had a unique style of leadership, he was a big man with big shoes. He had a great sense of humour – and he had to be to follow the footprints left by his tipuna Te Kani a Takirau.

Parekura was very much a personality with grassroots gravitas. He enjoyed rugby and the endeavours of young people. He supported the Māori Women’s Welfare League and the National Kōhanga Reo Trust who are also here tonight.

So it is no surprise that we are gathered here today to celebrate one of his many Mana Wahine causes: the Chumpchange 12 Week Challenge which he helped his niece Mere Takoko to launch this time last year in Tūranga [Gisborne].

Over the past year, Chumpchange has advocated for the issue of breast cancer to bring awareness to the New Zealand public about this particularly insidious disease – a disease which affects 1 in 7 women in our country including his wife Gladwyn.

Last year they raised $12,000 for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Why, because it’s one of the biggest health issues facing the region and the people of Uawa who all showed up to see Parekura speak at Chumpchange’s launch event last year. You see, Parekura had small-town values, which he never lost when he moved to the big city lights. He understood that the heartbeat of Māori communities were the women—are the women. He was raised by his nannies and aunties, and he often, often talked about them and remembered them fondly.

Getting support from women was effortless. He never had too short a time to have a cup of tea. The only problem was with every cup of tea came the cakes and the sausage rolls, and all of that. So, you know, people made comments about his size and all of that, but it was really indicative of the love that his people showed for him.

Tonight is about healthy lifestyles and supporting a worthy cause to reinforce the message of taking control of your wellbeing. It’s a timely lesson for us all that love can be shown with a salad and a carrot stick, and maybe a gluten-free something. That’s why I’m joining the Chumpchange challenge.

Parekuras legacy is one of service, supporting the aspirations of Maori and keeping it real. We are launching waka ora launching tonight—the Chumpchange 12 Week Challenge 2013. It’s a chance to reinforce the change we seek is for now and tommorrow. What better way to usher in the New Year by making a commitment to looking after ourselves and the people we touch in our daily lives.

Not a lot of people realise that Parekura had no intention of leaving us all so soon. On the final day that he came to Parliament , he had a chat to his niece Mere to sign up for the challenge. This kaupapa was close to his heart . His late wife Gladwyn Kaa was taken by breast cancer after the birth of their third son Tūrei who is here tonight.

Parekura was a public figure, but he was a very private man. Parekura was a working-class politician with a grassroots sense of gravitas. He joined the Keep Our Assets hīkoi. He marched for port workers. He stood side by side on the picket line with meat workers. He never lost sight of the real issues that affected real people—jobs, kai for the kids, a warm home, and looking after the old battlers who fought for our proud nation. Parekura exemplified all the values that he lived by. Tonight as Ikaroa-Rawhiti decide who will follow his footprints we celebrate the next phase of change and transformation.

We want to encourage everyone here tonight to start this New Year with out mokopuna in mind. Our health and well-being is a commitment to intergenerational change. A better life full of opportunities to be and live as Maori in our ever channging world.

For me the answer is quite simple; I want a country which does not give up on those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder; a country which doesn’t allow 270,000 of our kids to go to bed hungry at night. A country which says it is not okay that we suffer from one of the highest cancer rates in the world – or think it is acceptable that one in three people in New Zealand will get cancer in their lifetime. That is not the future I want for my children. My son sees women smoking and says ‘Whaea that’s not nice, its not my future’ he is 3 years old, he will be apart of a generation that is unafrais to create their own destiny.

Let’s take on the challenge to choose a healthy lifestyle and transform our bodies by joining the Chumpchange 12 week challenge. Lets make a difference in our communities as well.

Over the course of coming months, the Labour Māori Caucus and myself host the Challenge online at www.tewero.org. We’re keeping it real and letting it all hang out – the sweat, the pain, the joy, the power; the ups and downs of taking up 12 weeks of no white bread, no white flour, no white sugar and…no chocolate or fish and chips.

And then there’s the 12 weeks of training. We’ll be hitting the Parliament gym to do at least 3 hours of cardio and 3 hours of weights under we can pump no more. Our journey to health will begin with ourselves. We’re starting with the man and the woman steering back at us in the mirror. We’re going to make that change. And we want you all to join us!

We want to encourage each and everyone to join us and take the plunge. Im looking for the kind of karakia that will give me extra willpower! The kind that looks past the cakes to the carrot sticks, the kind that tells me keep going on the bike or do another 2 sets, the kind of willpower that reinforces ‘I Can Do This”!

From today until August 24th Ive got big plans! Watch this space! Mere and other chumpchange whanau will provide the inspiration. We moving the Kai Ora Waka today. It’s a Big Bus and as Parekura liked that analogy there’s enough room for everyone.

Mauriora

ENDS

Go to www.tewero.org for more information

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