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Who Will Consistently Represent Maori?

Speech notes from the Alliance Party

Who Will Consistently Represent Maori In Parliament?
Speech notes by Willie Jackson MP, 13 February 2002.

Kia Ora Mr Speaker,

Firstly it is only right I compliment the Prime Minister yesterday for her speech and commitment to the nation and in particular, to Mäori.

Mr Speaker that recommitment to our people is very important given the play for the Mäori vote from a number of political parties recently.

Mr Speaker, I went to Ratana this year. My challenge to Mäori was to vote for the people who truly represent you. And I added to that challenge today that Mäori must vote for those who have proven themselves, who have represented Mäori whether it is election year or not, no matter what Party they are in.

The 'Nats' are making their bid for the Mäori vote. Bill English led by his Mäori advisor Wira Gardiner thinks he has an opportunity in the Mäori seats. So much so that they are standing their new star - Hekia Parata in a seat.

Now that does seem a little ironic doesn't it? Here's National parading around the country with their star couple and the main star won't stand in a Mäori seat.

That's probably because she knows her chances are probably zero, because people remember or should remember that Hekia (my relation by the way), was the person who recommended that Te Mangai Paho only support Mäori language programmes.

The recent scandal about Tuku's program shouldn't be about Tuku's family having the skills to put together a program in Maori, the scandal is that people like Hekia have given Te Mangai Paho the license to alienate 80% of their people with their fundamentalist approach to Mäori programming by focussing only on programs in Maori.

I want to say today that I believe the current attack on Tuku Morgan and his family from mainstream media is another example of the racism that our people encounter day to day. Tuku had every right to apply for funding.

On behalf of Mana Motuhake I pledge my total support to him and his whanau in this venture.

So that's the National Party - and hey we just can't wait for their list - and what about their Mäori list?

Here is my top four: 1) Georgina Te HeuHeu 2) Hekia Parata 3) Tau Henare 4) Rana Waitai

And now to the Greens - who are making their play for the Mäori vote. I feel it is appropriate now to invite Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos to join Mana Motuhake. They have given me their personal support on some Maori issues, but not the support of the Green Party.

So let's remember that the Greens have been around for thirteen years and they have just started thinking about a Treaty policy.

Tino Rangatiratanga is about Mäori control and partnership and somehow I don't think that's going to go down too well with the bulk of the Green members especially the bird and forest lot who I don't think would take too kindly to any return of Conservation land in Treaty settlements.

Instead of jumping on a bandwagon that they don't understand it might just help if the Greens stood up for a few Mäori issues. For some reason I can't recall the Green party campaigning on Mäori issues over the last two years. Sure there's the odd press release, but where was their party when we fought for Mäori broadcasting and more money for the Waitangi Tribunal. None of the money they requested in the last budget went towards Maori issues.

Where were they last December when the tribes screamed for support over the new Aquaculture (Moratorium) Reform Bill, which may prevent an opportunity for further Mäori economic development? The reality is they have been very quiet.

They don't even have a representative on the Mäori Affairs Select Committee. So please, how about some real commitment instead of just grandstanding on an issue your party knows little about.

Of course ACT still believe they have a chance with Mäori even though they don't even recognise the Maori version of the Treaty.

They are concerned about business getting a fair deal and that contracts are honoured in the field of commerce, but can't bring themselves to honour a contract with Maori. They think protecting property rights is one thing a government should be allowed to do, that is, so long as they're not Maori property rights.

I read an ACT media statement the other day that suggests intangibles like language and customs should not be part of the Treaty. How tangible can you get? Without language or customs a people's culture becomes meaningless.

The Treaty was an agreement to partnership with responsibilities and obligations to allow each culture to survive. The culture that was colonised was not to be destroyed or consumed by Pakeha culture.

ACT went on to say that because the Maori and English versions of the Treaty were different there has been a re-writing of history through various court decisions. The English law, contra preferentum, states that for any dispute over the interpretation of a Treaty which involves a cession of sovereignty, the language of the group who has ceded sovereignty is to be used. That means the Maori version of the Treaty has primacy.

ACT also need to recognise that law is a living process, over time the law must adapt to modern circumstances. This happens through both common law and changes to legislation. Things like airwaves may be new but protecting the language in a modern environment demands that airwaves are available to Maori.

Mana Motuhake is the only Maori party in parliament and we stand in partnership with our colleagues in the Alliance who do have policy on the Treaty, have had an Agenda for Maori at the last election and will have an up to date platform for Maori issues in this years election.

While we work together to improve the lives of ordinary New Zealanders, Mana Motuhake maintains its independence as a Maori party.

This coalition is making progress for Maori in general. Mana Motuhake have played a key role in achieving a Maori TV channel and making sure programs will be produced in both Maori and English so everyone can understand them and learn about Maori culture and language.

Mana Motuhake and the Alliance have ensured that Maori have access to the spectrum, another key medium for preserving our culture and language.

We are making progress in getting more money for the Waitangi Tribunal, which has been burdened by under funding for many years. If we are going to honour Treaty obligations and make reparations for actions of the past, the Tribunal must be fully funded and have the ability to break through the backlog of claims.

And we are making progress getting decent funding for a treaty education program. It is clear from what I've been reading from ACT lately that there is a serious need for some Treaty education in this country.

That is not all we are doing for Maori by any means. Mana Motuhake and the Alliance have been essential in making sure that social programs are supported, that the government works with whoever it can to achieve opportunities in life for all New Zealanders through jobs, education and supporting our culture.

Our Ministers have been instrumental in winning twelve weeks paid parental leave, increasing the minimum wage and lowering the age you receive the adult wage.

Our Ministers have worked to achieve greatly improved employment relations legislation, health and safety laws and are clearly instrumental in creating economic development in the regions, which is creating jobs for our people all over the country. Maori know this is what is needed to build healthy communities for our people.

It is also an Alliance Minister who is working with Maori to keep them out of prison. It is a tragedy to see such a high proportion of Maori in prison, but it is a tragedy that this government is not shying away from.

We are working on programs that will work for Maori, programs to keep youth at risk out of prison and programs to make sure that when Maori get out of prison, they have the assistance and opportunity to make a go of life in the community.

Mana Motuhake and the Alliance are tackling the hard questions and making the hard decisions with Maori. We are taking on the true responsibility of leadership - the responsibility to truly listen to our people and address their concerns with practical and realistic solutions. And we are doing our homework to find out what works and what doesn't.

We're not going to jump around on a bandwagon sloganeering like some people in this House.


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