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Launch of Whanau Reconciliation Service - Speech

Hon Tariana Turia
23 April 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of Whanau Reconciliation Service by Tangata Mauri Ora Trust & Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri Trust, Otahuhu

Tena koutou e tau nei i tenei rangi. He mihi ake tenei na nga wai o te Whanganui ki nga wai o te Waitemata raua tahi ko nga wai o te Manukau. Tena hoki koutou nga wai tangata i whangaihia i nga wai ora o ratau ma. Koutou e tu pakari nei, i runga i te whakapono ka taea e tatau te whakatikatika i a tatau ano. Tena tatau.

I am particularly pleased to be a part of this occasion. An occasion which once again demonstrates our ability as a people to come together in a common cause to provide, along with whanau an environment where whanau are able to effect healing and reconciliation.

What you are advocating and indeed the initiative you have taken also demonstrates what I have long believed, and what is ingrained in our culture, that violence against the vulnerable, against women and children, against our sons and daughters, against the inheritors of our future, is unacceptable.

I note from the information you have sent me that the kaupapa of the service is whakawhanaungatanga. I applaud your decision to have our tikanga as the basis for the service, which will be provided.

I mentioned the word "whakapono" earlier and as we all know it means "putting it right". Given your tikanga-based kaupapa, what I take your service outcomes will entail is "the putting right" of relationships, which have been negatively disrupted by unnecessary and unacceptable acts of violence.

I am always concerned however by the language we sometimes use to describe our people. Too often I hear us speaking of dysfunctional Maori families. Why, I ask, do we use other people's professional labels to describe our whanau? I have yet to meet a dysfunctional Maori whanau. I have met many people and whanau, who have issues to address, I would never call them dysfunctional.

I note also your intention to carry out comprehensive needs assessments. I would hope those assessments are on the basis of a strengths perspective or "nga tikanga mau painga". Assessments that are made that affirm the strengths within whakapapa that can then be utilised to effect reconciliation and healing.

The type of service you have here is similar to services, which are being initiated by a number of hapu and iwi groups throughout Aotearoa. The responses I have had from people especially young mothers has been extremely positive.

I recently had an email from a young mother who was in total agreement with the sentiments that all children had the right to an environment where they would be cared for, nurtured, loved and kept free from harm.

The service you are initiating I know has the same philosophical base.

I am a great believer in the processes of the "hui" and I would hope that the processes you will be using are consistent with the hui processes. I note that the service will be culturally appropriate and would therefore cater for the different iwi cultures, which exist amongst us in Aotearoa.

They will also, I am sure, accommodate those of our people who have been detribalised as a result of alienation and disconnection from their whakapapa roots.

Many of these people, one could say, have reached a degree of independence from their roots.

Is this the type of independence we want. For many of these people having 'achieved' independence are they now lost souls?

I would strongly encourage any service to our people to look very seriously at the concept of encouraging individuals to become independent.

I would much prefer us to encourage inter-dependence, where we will continue to acknowledge the obligations and responsibilities that we all have to each other.

I will end by suggesting that, in your assessments, my guess is that you will find many of the people who use your service, are people, who to varying degrees are the victims of 'independence'. That is, they have a feeling of alienation from the sense of whom they are as members of whanau hapu and iwi.

I stand by the premise that underpins the Whänau Reconciliation Support Service, that is reflected in the Tangata Mauri Ora mission statement, "Nga Puawai mo nga tangata katoa" that we will flourish as a people by continuing to develop our ability, belief and capacity to support and care for each other.

I wish to congratulate Tangata Mauri Ora Trust and Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri for uniting under the spirit of whakawhänaungatanga and drawing on their collective strength by sharing of resources and capabilities in order to provide the best possible service for whänau accessing their services.

I applaud you women whose membership included women from community and government agencies, who collectively joined to explore appropriate ways to assist whänau suffering as a result of violence.

I would like to acknowledge that your concerted and dedicated actions have made it possible for this service to exist.

You reinforce the reality that Mäori are creating a future that is self-determining and empowering.

To all here today, thank you for the opportunity to join you in this celebration.

Na reira, huri noa I to tatau huihuinga, tena koutou nga wahine toa, tena hoki tatau katoa.


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