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Te Whare o Rangatuhi - Tariana Turia Speech

1 July 2002 Hon Tariana Turia
Speech Notes


E te mana whenua, Ngati Toa Rangatira, tena ano koutou.

E nga iwi, e nga reo o te Whare o Rangatuhi e huihui nei i tenei ra,
tena koutou katoa.

Health Board management and staff, honoured guests, greetings to you all.

This is the second time in four days that I acknowledge Ngati Toa Rangatira, for their support as mana whenua to a public institution.

Last Friday I was down the road at Arohata, at the opening of four units where women can prepare for their release from prison. The units are like flats, where inmates develop their household management skills, budgeting for their shopping, doing their chores and so on.

Today we are opening an adolescent inpatient unit for rangatahi with mental illness. This facility is desperately needed, and will be welcomed by whanau who have been coping with the stress of looking after their own young people, when they really need full-time professional care.

Sometimes they cannot cope, of course, and tragedies occur. The Webby family from Newlands are facing that situation, and I want to acknowledge their loss and grief. And there are others. Ka nui te aroha ki a ratou.

It is our tikanga, when tangata whenua meet each other, to review our relationships – past disputes, common links and current issues.

As Associate Minister, I represent the Crown and the public today, so I want to note that this facility, like Arohata, services the public over a huge area.

Whether they realise it or not, many people can thank Ngati Toa for the iwi’s contribution to mental health services in this region over many years, and it will continue, I know, through their input to Te Whare o Rangatuhi.

We must also consider the impacts on Ngati Toa of their relationship with the Crown. We cannot afford to overburden Ngati Toa’s hospitality.

We owe it to Ngati Toa, and to ourselves, to reduce the need for these institutions, and to ensure that, once people leave, they don’t have to come back.

There is a disproportion of our people in Her Majesty’s institutions. They are casualties of colonisation. Our approach to prevention and rehabilitation must take that into account.

The primary impacts of colonisation on tangata whenua are the breakdown of our customary social and political structures, whanau and hapu, the loss of community control over resources and assets, and the breakdown of the tikanga that underpin our communities.

Mental illness, criminal offending and other social problems are secondary impacts. We will not solve these problems unless we address the root causes.

We can do that in the context of mental health care, by making sure that procedures and practices help to rebuild whanau links, they reflect the tikanga of our people, and they recognise the special status of tangata whenua.

A whanau or family-centred approach is central to restoring the health of tangata whenua. If we lose our links with our whanau and our turangawaewae, the places we call home, we lose part of our whakapapa, our humanity. We become isolated and vulnerable.

I understand Professor Mason Durie’s five-point plan for improving Maori mental health outcomes was used to guide the development of Te Whare o Rangatuhi, and the services offered here will be bicultural.

I congratulate you on your commitment to this approach.

If you empower the whanau to help our rangatahi, they will empower you in your work.

If you follow the tikanga of tangata whenua, you will feel the strength of our tupuna.

Everyone can benefit from this approach, not just our people.

In conclusion, I turn again to Ngati Toa, and say that we need your involvement and support, to give mana to our talk of tikanga, whanau and community support and the special status of tangata whenua.

No reira, tena koutou katoa.

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