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Graduation Ceremony of Te Whare Wananga

7 April 2001 Hon Tariana Turia Speech Notes

Keynote address to Annual Graduation Ceremony of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, 1pm, Wananga Campus, Whakatane

Tena tatau e hui nei ki te whakanui i nga uri o nga whanau kua riro i a ratau nga tohu o te matauranga. Tena koutou o te awa tapu o te Whakatane. Anei a Whanganui e mihi kau ana ki a koutou. Nö reira, tena koutou katoa.

I am privileged to be here on this very special occasion, and welcome the opportunity to celebrate your successes and achievements as staff, students, and graduates of Te Whare Wananga O Awanuiarangi.

As an uri of Whanganui, Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru and Tuwharetoa, I know how important it is to include the values that are unique to whanau, hapü and iwi. As a mother, grandmother and great grandmother I know what will be important to my children and grandchildren.

As staff, students, graduates and whanau members I have no doubt that the values of your whanau, hapü and iwi and the learning environment you have created at this Wananga have played a big part in your success.

That is the beauty of having the opportunity to learn, teach and be involved in Maori education that encompasses values that we understand, embrace and treasure.

Education to me is very much like the awa and the sea. Each has its ebb and flow.

Sometimes we should imagine ourselves in a canoe on the water. There are times when we have the experience of the turbulent rapids or the choppy seas and we wonder whether we will make our destination.

We experience floods and storms and we sometimes wonder whether the canoe in which we are travelling will be swamped and we become desperate.

Just as we become desperate with that assignment which is due and we have not done enough preparation and in panic we seek divine intervention.

I know the creator has never written an essay and I am sure the advice would be "Yes do pray but keep on paddling".

You see divine intervention will not write the essay for you, only you can do that.

Education for whanau, hapü and iwi in my view needs to be seen as an act of liberation.

I believe that it is knowledge in its wider context that is the gateway to understanding and wisdom for our people.

However, at the heart of effective learning is the need for a worldview, which is truly ours. A world view, which embraces the essence of our hapu and iwi beings.

This means the inclusion of our culture, our language and our history into the education process.

I encourage development as a means to increasing the cultural wealth of an iwi. Iwi, whanau and hapü wellbeing is central to sustainable people development.

Tribal leadership is nurtured at the whanau and hapü level and is an essential building block, which contributes to being a functional and forward-looking people.

The new leaders-in-waiting of the people must not only be armed with nga matauranga o te ao kohatu, they must also be familiar with new knowledge in a world, which, as a result of technology, has now become a very small global village.

Iwi prosperity in my view will always be dependant upon a secure whanau, hapu and iwi identity no matter where the members of that iwi may reside or what they may choose to pursue in life.

Knowing what is important, how best to achieve social, economic, political and cultural priorities are essential.

The commitment shown by Awanuiarangi to explore more inclusive ways to support students, particularly through closer links with whanau, hapü and iwi is invaluable.

Not only do you provide education in a form that is accessible and appropriate, more importantly, the education programmes delivered are able to embrace the values of education that we consider to be important, such as our hapu and iwi knowledge, our language, our culture and our history.

It is education such as this that provides a strong foundation for our tamariki and mokopuna. An education such as this, which, which can be used as a basis to explore new learnings in an increasingly complex world.

While it is important to celebrate individual achievement, particularly when success contributes to whanau, hapü and iwi development it is also incumbent upon the student to ensure that they return something to the whanau and hapu which has nurtured them.

I am becoming concerned at the number of our people who have gained knowledge from their pakeke, become academically successful and then go home to lecture the elders on how to "suck eggs".

Many of these young people have forgotten the koha of humility. Many assert their "individual" right to be heard.

I have been told however that none of the graduates of Awanuiarangi are like this!

Emancipation and Liberation
Whatarangi Winiata and Ngati Raukawa have shown us through Whakatipuranga Rua Mano what can be achieved when an iwi sets out the future that it wants for its children.

Brazilian Educationalist Paulo Freire offers important insights on the power of education to overcome oppression and to re-shape one’s present reality.

Freire describes Education as the practice of freedom and a path to emancipation.

He says education is:

'designed to either domesticate, to tame like one tames an animal and to ensure that the existing situation remains by imposing on a people the values and culture of the dominant classes. Or education is about liberation where an environment is created to enable people to express their creativity, to become critical and to be active and responsible members of society.'

He states further that education must be relevant to those who participate in it.

I remember from a previous visit to Whakatane that the sense of identity with being a member of a whanau, hapu and iwi runs very strongly through Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi.

I take it from that, that the sense of identity is a driving force here at Awanuiarangi.

The third aspect which, Freire adopts is the belief that all who participate are thinking, creative people, with the ability to take action to find solutions.

Failure if such a thing exists, is seen merely as the creation of another opportunity to try again.

I sometimes wonder whether Freire shared a whakapapa with some of us as he certainly believed in dialogue (korero).

We also believe in korero, we have whai korero where we follow the talk, we have nga pu korero, and we say ko te kai a te rangatira he korero.

So, we have this joy and fascination with korero in the same way that Freire believed in dialogue.

Last year I said at Victoria University to beware of the effects of an education where the sub liminal messages we receive as we seek a western education which professes neutrality and objectivity could in fact be arming our young with the tools of oppression. (I referred earlier to those who return to lecture the old people.)

We know this because we know that the purpose of western education when introduced in to Aotearoa was to rid us of the "demoralising influences of our villages" to break 'the communism of the villages" and to assimilate us.

What I believe I have been invited to today is to witness and participate in a celebration of a people who have taken the power despite meagre resources to claim a pedagogy of learning.

A framework from the ancestors, which perhaps has its origins in the educational search and feats of Tane who obtained the three baskets of knowledge, te kete tuauri, te kete tuatea and te kete aronui.

Knowledge in baskets for the benefit of all people and in the context of Aotearoa, the knowledge you have gained as students is for the benefit not only of your whanau, hapu and iwi but also for the benefit of our country.

Today, I am honoured, to have been, invited by you to celebrate not only the achievements of students, but also the whanau of these students.

The successes today are not only a reflection of individual academic prowess, sacrifice and commitment, but also a reflection of the hard work put in by staff members and the support given by partners, children and the wider whanau.

Today we celebrate the success of whakapapa, today is your day to celebrate and celebrate we will!

Na reira te tipuna, Awanuiarangi nau ka riro e o uri nga matauranga hei painga mo tatau katoa.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatau katoa.


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