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Speech to Napier Pilot City Forum

Hon Tariana Turia Speech Notes

I know many grandparents who, in speaking with their mokopuna say, ‘near enough is not good enough’. Often they would say, ‘do not do anything if you will not do it extremely well’.

While I appreciate that what I have been asked to speak about is ‘my life’, I actually do not see myself and my life as being special or extraordinary. In fact, my life has been little different to the lives lead by many of you.

The biggest difference perhaps, is that I attract more publicity, which is why I do not really want to talk about me. What I would like to do however, is share with you some of the hopes and dreams that many of us in Aotearoa share.

I want for a moment, to reflect on my maiden speech in parliament. In that speech I outlined a dream, a vision.

I paid special tribute to Tokouru and Matiu Ratana, both of Ngati Apa iwi, and Iriaka Ratana of Whanganui, Te Ati Haunui A Paparangi descent, with whom I share a common ancestry.

I also acknowledged that I am from a long line of political activists who, despite their efforts, died without ever seeing their vision come to fruition.

My grandfather, Hamiora Uru Te Angina, and my adopted father, Tariuha Manawaroa Te AweAwe, my mother’s two sisters, Ripeka and Mihiterina, all travelled with Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana to England on two occasions to have the Treaty ratified. They were snubbed and ignored by the Crown, on the advice of the New Zealand Government of the day.

I also spoke of our history, the Treaty of Waitangi and the tinorangatiratanga of hapu and iwi.

Understanding our history is crucial to an appreciation of how we got to where we are now, the divisions that arise in our society between different groups and what needs to be done, if we are to be truly united and move forward together as a nation.

We all have dreams, that is all that a vision is - a dream that is communicated to others.

I too have a vision, but it is not mine alone. It is a vision which began before me and will continue after I am gone, because we will always dream that there must be a better life for us, as a people. That was the dream of my ancestors, that is my dream and I will continue to encourage my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to have their dreams.

Each dream is a new beginning, because the whanau, hapu and iwi world from whom I descend, is a world of never-ending beginnings. You see, in this world, life and death are not separated, they are all part of the same continuim.

My dream has always been 'a nation comprising of nations which celebrate and respect diversity'. The tribal world of the tangata whenua, is a very good example of nations which recognise and accept difference. We in Whanganui, have a dialect in which the pronunciation of words drop the ‘H’. This makes us different to other iwi. But we have never been ostracised, demeaned or denigrated because of that difference. Nor do we ostracise, demean or denigrate those iwi that include the ‘H’ in their pronunciations.

It is those traditions of the acceptance of difference which have grown out of this land, which I believe are good models for all of us to use and incorporate into the psyche of our nation.

Despite the negative reports of iwi not agreeing with each other, I want to tell you that my experiences indicate otherwise.

Many people misinterpret vigorous debate in the tangata whenua world as divisive and an example of the inability of iwi to co-operate with each other.

And yet in Parliament, when we in the House attack each other, ridicule and denigrate people, it is not seen as agression, or demeaning or divisive, it is merely seen as playing the game.

Tangata whenua know that they are extremely capable, competent, loving, caring and accepting of responsibility and obligations as their way of life. That any barriers in front of them, designed to crush their spirits and their souls can and are overcome.

All whanau regardless of their academic, intellectual or other capacities are capable of making positive decisions which will lead to positive outcomes and affirm their empowerment at a whanau level. This will lead to enhancement and strengthening of the tangata whenua institutions of the hapu and the iwi. The whanau you see, is the basis for hapu and iwi development.

How whanau interact every day, with each other is critical.

My plea to all whanau this year is to remember that it does not need huge resources to value and care for one another. To remember to support not only those in your household, but all of your whanau members. To accept that colletive responsibility is an important value handed down from our tupuna.

Whanau is after all, the primary social institution for tangata whenua. It is the basis from which other forms of whakapapa based social institutions such as hapu and iwi emanate. It is at the core of tangata whenua social structures.

For any people to develop, there will be a necessity for resources. Those resources can be tangible and intangible. In understanding our joint history, one must acknowledge tangata whenua losses. As with the West Coast of the South Island, tangata whenua need resources to restore their lost opportunities, so that they can grow and flourish.

The government is committed to the development of tangata whenua. Whanau, hapu and iwi know what they need for their own development, and the government acknowledges this in our policies of building tangata whenua capacity, to empower them to find their own solutions and determine their own futures.

Change will take time and we must consolidate it as we grow. It will take years to turn around the traumatic effects that have arisen from our nation’s history. Confronting history can be disturbing, potentially painful and may require us to question cherished ideas about ourselves and our place in the world. However it is a journey in which the rewards bring understanding and empowerment.

There are no overnight, quick-fix solutions, but I believe that over time the effects of consolidated improvement will become tangible, in the wellbeing and self esteem of many tangata whenua. This will be reflected in an improved social climate of positive relationships which will benefit all New Zealanders.

Sometimes, money and resources can get in the way of maintaining healthy respect for relationships both within whanau, hapu and iwi and between iwi.

I want to take this time to say, if the amount of time, the legal battles that have raged over the distribution of the fisheries monies for example, was devoted to how we, as whanau, relate to each other and treat each other, I am sure we would all be far better off.

I have spoken with whanau, who have expressed their disappointment that so much time and resources have been spent litigating for those economic assets.

We must always focus on what it is that unites us as a people and agree to resolve our conflicts between ourselves.

Our dreams and visions give us the courage and enthusiasm to survive, to strive and in doing so, succeed.

My life has been about the creation of a nation which will celebrate and respect difference. Two days ago, there was a celebration, a celebration where people who shared different views, whose origins are found in the soils of different countries, came together and celebrated nationhood. A celebration of nationhood symbolised by the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Even the media were at a loss to find any controversy other than the raising and discussing of the serious issues that face us, as a country.

The Treaty is for me, about the recognition and the right for all of us to be here. You could say the Treaty was the first immigration policy document.

The Treaty protected the rights of tangata whenua to be self determining over their resources, people and taonga and it gave governance rights to the Queen of England.

Waitangi Day is also a reminder of what is involved in the honour of the Crown, in the keeping or breaking of promises. Of the losses experience by tangata whenua since colonisation, not only of their land, but of the right essentially to live as and be tangata whenua.

The celebration both at Te Tii Marae and on the Treaty grounds, and indeed the celebrations throughout the country demonstrated the further maturing of a fledgling nation. As my elders would say ‘kei te pakeke haere tatou’, ‘we are maturing’.

The number of young pakeha people wanting the Treaty honoured and those with very different views, from a Maori Parliament to a One New Zealand, attending Waitangi, but with a real willingness and a desire to debate the issues, tells me we want to move forward, we want unity. Democracy after all, is a responsibility of everybody.

The events at Waitangi in particular and indeed the days leading up to Waitangi, showed the nation, that people who are perceived to have been at odds with each other, can with goodwill and humility reconcile, for the greater good. That is showing leadership.

It is important all people have a vision and that they continue to express and communicate that vision, so that all may be offered the opportunity to understand.

We need to eliminate inequalities in our social status whereever they exist. Tangata whenua can, are and will continue to develop themselves. People cannot be developed by others, they must develop themselves. Tangata whenua have always taken responsibility for their own development. This is the positive and proactive approach to our collective development as a country.

This is only part of what is necessary, if we are to achieve justice, healing and reconciliation. But there is a need for a much improved understanding among many of the public, of the relationships between us – of the Treaty of Waitangi, its historical context and what it means for us today, and of the history of whanau, hapu and iwi.

A study of values in 1999 showed significant differences between the views of tangata whenua and those of other New Zealanders, regarding the Treaty of Waitangi. The survey also found that these differences had increased since 1989.

The Race Relations Conciliator has reported that there is a wide range of evidence showing that there is limited public understanding of Treaty issues and the settlements process. There is also increasing public concern about race relations. I believe that both can be overcome by providing information and time to discuss all those issues people are concerned about. The responsibility to overcome those concerns, rests with every one of us who live in this country.

This environment provides an opportunity for groups such as yours to assist in facilitating discussions in community settings, bringing together communities to discuss all of their views and their visions.

We have held such discussions in Whanganui with 200-400 people attending each one, following the time we spent at Pakaitore before I entered Parliament.

They were found to be beneficial to all those who attended, by providing time to reflect together and for people to ask those burning questions that they had been wanting to ask, but had not had an opportunity to do so.

Through increasing understanding, there is the potential for the Treaty of Waitangi being seen as a significant unifying influence in New Zealand. I believe this can and will happen.

A lot of New Zealanders must overcome their denial of our true history, for it cannot be taken back and done differently, therefore we must move forward. Uniting tangata whenua and tauiwi depends on a more shared understanding and acknowledgment of our history.

There must be goodwill and tolerance by all New Zealanders, if we are to heal the divisions arising from our colonial past.

Without this, there can be no agreement on the need for reconciliation, or acceptance of the specific constitutional place of tangata whenua, arising from their status as the previous inhabitants of this country that was affirmed in the Treaty. It is a status which is different, but not preferential, from that of all others.

We need to ensure that we can debate the issues between us from a position of knowledge and understanding. I commend the many individuals and organisations, such as the Napier Pilot City Trust, who work to raise awareness of the dynamic bicultural nature of our society.

It is commitment such as yours, to the development and continued maturing of our country that gives us all hope for the future.

The knowledge that others are learning and share this vision, working towards similar goals for our great country, heartens us all in our work.

Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.


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