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Whanau Development - Turia Speech

Tariana Turia
6 June 2002
Speech Notes


Speech to Taranaki Dinner for Te Hau Parongo, Shalom Christian Centre, Queen St, Waitara.

E nga mana, e nga reo o nga iwi kei raro i te maunga tapu o Taranaki, tena koutou. Anei tenei o nga rahi o Whanganui me Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru me Tuwharetoa hoki e mihi atu nei ki a koutou. Tena koutou katoa.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the close whakapapa and historical links between the waka of Aotea and Kurahaupo.

I also want to acknowledge the leadership of Taranaki people in many issues of vital interest to us all as tangata whenua.

Taranaki led tangatawhenua movements of the nineteenth century to retain mana to the whenua.

And Taranaki bore the brunt of the wars and land confiscations that followed.

Taranaki led the passive resistance movement at Parihaka, and welcomed people from all over the motu who affirmed a positive model of community co-operation and enterprise, in the face of great hostility and opposition.

Even the great Mahatma Ghandi followed Te Whiti and Tohu.

More recently, Taranaki helped to blaze a trail through the Treaty of Waitangi claims settlement process, and secured a seminal report from the Waitangi Tribunal on the effect of land confiscations on the people. Taranaki ensured the ‘story was told’.

The telling of the story was important, as it has enabled healing to begin.

The Tribunal described in no uncertain terms the experience suffered by the iwi of Taranaki.

I need not remind you what trouble I got into, just for repeating a word used by the Tribunal.

What I forgot was the mita of the reo of Whanganui. Na reira, aro’a mai.

The iwi of Taranaki continue to lead the way forward, through what may be the most difficult task of all facing us, reconstructing vibrant and powerful whanau and hapu communities from the wreckage of the past.

Whanau development is what I want to talk about tonight.

Many of you here may already be involved in your processes of whanau development.

I am a firm believer in the bottom-up approach to community development, where whanau and hapu determine the strategies that will lead them to be more self-determining, and to have control over their development.

I want to emphasise that in my view, when we consider whanau development, we must identify the tikanga and clarify the attitudes and the values that emanate from those tikanga.

But as we look around us, we see all too much evidence that our traditional social and political organisations have started to crumble under the impact of colonial structures and, increasingly, even our whanau are influenced by colonial attitudes and behaviour.

If our goal is to restore the essence, the spirit and the soul of our whanau, so that we and our children and grandchildren can say with confidence, “kei a tatau tonu te mana,” we must be guided by the wisdom of those who have gone ahead of us.

We must be clear and be prepared to debate “nga tikanga i waihotia e ratau”.

For example, the government recently moved to settle some historical grievances concerning Maori Reserved Lands in Taranaki and elsewhere.

I fully appreciate the nagging pain of whanau and hapu members who, day after day, drive past the land that is yours, which is the core of your identity and mana, but which is not controlled by the hapu.

After the land was confiscated, the hapu was further undermined when the land was returned to the control of an incorporation – a creature of statute, which is driven by commercial imperatives.

This powerful organisation returns a profit to shareholders, but it cannot ever restore to hapu to ratou mana ki te whenua.

How can an organisation which is not the creation of the whanau, maintain their mana? What would your tikanga say is the proper structure to maintain the mana of the people to their land?

This brings me to the really tough questions, some of which I have already referred to.

How do we uphold the mana of our hapu and whanau?

How do we ensure that we, and our children and grandchildren, live up to the values and behaviour of our ancestors?

How do we restore the ability of our people to act, and even to think, as part of a collective?

How do we restore the tikanga related to mutual responsibilities and obligations that are the foundation for rangatira attitudes and behaviour?

Perhaps it is too late. Have we changed too much already?

Have we become nuclear families, able to forget or ignore our whanaunga who are troubled, or are in trouble?

Have we become unwilling to tackle domestic violence because ‘it’s none of my business’?

No. In spite of everything, I still see huge potential in our whanau, and I believe in our ability to find our own solutions. And I fervently believe the solutions can be found in our tikanga.

They can be found in our korero tahito, our purakau and our waiata. Ours is a world rich with oratory.

A world we need to tap to see how solutions of restoration, healing, reconciliation and development can be used to address issues of whanau development today.

I have met many people doing tertiary study, for example, whose families have been failed by the system in the past.

I know people who drifted away from their whanau, supported in well-off lifestyles by healthy pay packets – until they lost their job. But the whanau was still there for them when they were needed.

Those they may have shunned in life wept over them and comforted them in death.

So we must never give up on each other. We must identify and celebrate the things that unite us, and not allow ourselves to focus on issues that divide us.

The claims settlement process tests the wisdom, patience and understanding of whanau and hapu, because they tend to be sidelined while the Crown deals with iwi organisations.

We must assert our rangatira values in spite of everything, and not allow ourselves to be drawn into competitive and destructive behaviour.

We also need vision and strategies to help us stick to our principles. In this regard, Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga is an inspiration to me.

They began a development plan 25 years ago, a whole generation. It was called Whakatipuranga Ruamano.

At the time, the year 2000 seemed a long way off – but time flies when you’re having fun!

The plan was based on Ngati Raukawa’s own whakapapa, tikanga, kawa and reo.

They set their own goals. The old people actively involved the rangatahi in marae activities.

They grew their own leadership – not just educating a select few young people in professions, but making sure there were people trained to meet all the needs of the whanau and hapu.

Ngati Raukawa now has a new generation of experts in traditional history and culture, management and organisation, as entrepreneurs, educators, people who can move among all worlds.

They are all important to the iwi. It’s not a hierarchy – it’s a collective approach.

Developing visions and strategies is a challenge for tangata whenua. But whanau development also presents challenges to the Crown.

For example, what is the Crown’s role in whanau development?

If tangata whenua strategies succeed, and their people participate in marae communities, and they start to plan their own way forward – how should the Crown respond?

To be blunt, I think it should get out of the way, and clear a path for the people to move forward.

But that is easier said than done.

The Crown is deeply involved in all aspects of the lives of tangata whenua. There’s a kind of co-dependency operating.

With the best will in the world, the Crown may not be able to disentangle itself. In spite of its best efforts, the process set up to settle injustices might itself become the source of further injustice.

Take the claim concerning the governance structure for Ngati Ruanui. I strongly support the directions of Judge Carrie Wainwright, when she concludes that the Crown has an overarching responsibility to do what it can “to ensure that the relationships within and between Maori groups are not unnecessarily damaged by the stresses inherent in process”.

I also mentioned settlement of grievances over Maori Reserved Lands a little earlier.

We must acknowledge the good will of the Crown in trying to reach a settlement. But an incorporation may not be the right type of organisation to deliver a settlement that fulfils the promise of the Treaty.

I think the Crown needs its own vision and strategies, in order to be able to support whanau development. It must carefully consider what it is trying to achieve.

The way forward for the Crown and tangata whenua is not clear. But I think certain principles are clear.

It is the responsibility of the whanau to develop the vision and the strategies for their own development.

It is the Crown’s responsibility to find ways to work with and alongside the people as they move forward – and not to expect the people to work to the Crown.

Heoi ano, kia ora tatou katoa.


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