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The Ball Is In Our Court

Hon Tariana Turia

Speech to the New Zealand Council of Social Services Conference, St Johns Conference Centre, Wellington


Tena tatau e tau nei i tenei ra. Tena koutou nga mana whenua, nga mata waka o te whenua. Tena tatau katoa.

In thinking about this speech I adopted a rather negative attitude, in that I started to think about what I would not say, rather than what I would say. I also thought I may stand on the baseline and let Steve do all the running around at the net. I have however, decided to contribute and do my fair share.

I know in sport, good coaches tell their athletes what they should do, not what they should not do. Negative messages seem to stay in the mind longer than positive messages.

I read somewhere in a coaching manual that it takes 7 positive messages to overcome a negative message. I am sure a good coach will say "hit the ball to her back hand" rather than "do not hit the ball to her forehand".

Today therefore, I will be positive in responding to what you have served up for the match and I will play the game according to the team plan. I will not deviate from the plan, and I will look after my 'alf of the court! Our plan is for Steve to do his thing, and for me to do mine.

This mixed doubles team of Steve and I is a pretty awesome team and each of us has little talents.

We have been fortunate to have a video of the way you play the game and we have spent some time studying it.

In the last week I gained inspiration from Venus Williams who in the US Tennis Open, showed amazing determination. In this five foot two Ruia Morrison type frame of mine, is a six foot one Venus Williams.

Even when all appeared lost in her semi final match against Martina Hingis, Venus ran down every ball, eventually going on to win against Hingis and then beat Lindsay Davenport in the final.

I also note that many of the women players have extremely supportive whanau. The Williams whanau is one example as are the whanau of Jelena Dokic, Martina Hingis, Ana Kournikova and Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario. Group support is important to these women.

I believe the group orientation of the community and voluntary sector held you in good stead as the previous administration tried to double fault you and entangle you in the net of competition and individualised social responsibility.

Their umpires, their rules and the faded lines they drew on the court were all designed to ensure you played the game they wanted you to play.

I believe we must not just focus on the lines drawn on the ground within which we play this game - the immediate tennis court. We must involve the gallery.

I think the previous tournament organisers tried to get you to focus only on what was on the court.

You could have become so concerned about getting enough balls together that the people who could not afford to get in to the stadium for the game could so easily have been overlooked.

Fortunately, that did not happen, although Nick Smith did threaten to take his balls away so only he could play with them.

While I appreciate the theme of "the ball being in your court" I think it a little unfortunate that it may conjure up thoughts of competition, where "winners and losers" are created in the name of "cohesion" and "participation".

This coalition government is more committed to co-operation than to competition. Let us not forget that many of the champions of competition are quick to co-operate with each other when the going gets tough.

While on the one hand we may talk about social inclusion and building cultural capital, we use processes and systems, the outcomes of which result in social exclusion, and the undermining of peoples belief in their ability to interact and progress as collectives.

We, you and us must ensure that we do not leave people on the margins in the same way that this Labour/Alliance coalition government believes that whanau, hapu and iwi have been left on the margins. This is the reason we have the GAPS programme.

I now want to address the issue of the agreement between government and the Voluntary Sector. We all know that they will produce a report before the end of this year. I note in one of your newsletters that we would talk about how the consultation on need will be carried out.

In my view, the most effective consultation process which has ever been carried out and resulted in a government policy document from the "people", was the process which produced "Puao-te-ata-tu" for the last Labour government.

I appreciate that time will not allow the same process to occur in this instance and that may well be to the detriment of all of us. I think we need to analyse why "Puao-te-ata-tu" has retained its credibility amongst Maori people.

The process surrounding "Puao-te-ata-tu" was so effective and the "buy in" by the Maori whanau, hapu and iwi so complete that thirteen years later Maori hapu and iwi groups are using the document as a blue print for intersectoral activity to meet needs identified by their community.

The added beauty of the document was that after all the many consultation hui we ended up with a small booklet of 91 pages (including an appendix of 46 pages) and 13 recommendations. It could never be used as a doorstop as David Lange suggested the Royal Commission on Social Policy should be used.

I think, too often we may look in other places to get ideas. While I would be one of the first to say that we must never close our minds to ideas from other places, I will also say that often within our own country there are ideas which emanate from this land which we overlook. The processes surrounding the production of "Puao-te-ata-tu" is one such example.

An issue, which I will address, is the notion of self-determination and self-governance. I think this issue has implications and relevance in any compact between the voluntary sector, government and mana whenua iwi.

The issues to be addressed are:
 The nature of the relationship between mana whenua and the voluntary/community sector,
 The nature of the relationship between government and the voluntary sector,
 The nature of the relationship between the government and mana whenua.

This makes for an interesting pot pouri of relationships, which we need to earnestly attend to. I am sure the Working Party with the collective wisdom of the team lead by Dorothy Wilson will be able to come up with a working and workable framework.

At this point I would like to share with you a definition of self-determination. "At its root, it refers to a degree of autonomy that enables individuals or collectives to shape their own economic, social and political destiny".

Another definition is that self-determination, in purely political terms, is "the right of an aboriginal nation to choose how it will be governed. Self-governance, in contrast, is one natural outcome of the right of self-determination and refers to the right of peoples to exercise political autonomy. Self-determination refers to the collective power of choice; self-government is one possible result of that choice" .

Self-governance as being the choice of self-determination for me means the right to participate in, and control the processes, through which decisions that affect our lives are made.

This position is reinforced for me on a daily basis and has been a large part of my working life in the community and the iwi activities I have participated in as a descendant of Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru, Whanganui and Tuwharetoa.

I will conclude by saying to both Abigail and Luana, that, we (you, I and us) can only resolve the issues you have raised by coming to some common understanding of how we want the society to be. What values and beliefs do we want to promote as ideals for our society?

 What I will say however is that despite all the difficulties you have raised our people have still managed to survive and many thrive.
 Our people still have loving whanau, more so than being whanau who are neglectful.
 Our people still manage to participate in those activities which are a unique brand of cultural capital which does not exist anywhere else in the world.
 We still continue to sing, play and laugh.
 More of us know who we are than don't.
 Our people continue to have hope, to have dreams and to have ambitions.
As we are all born in to our people, we can only be who we are.


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