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Turia Speech: Whanau violence & whanau development

Tariana Turia Speech: Whanau violence and whanau development

E nga mana, e nga reo, tena koutou.

E nga iwi e huihui nei i raro o Taranaki maunga, e pupuri tonu ana i nga tikanga o Parihaka, tena koutou katoa.

E nga wahine whakapumau i nga tikanga tuturu o te whanau, tena koutou katoa.

You know, it is a special privilege to be here today, among a collective of like minds, because you are a group of women who have dedicated so much of your lives to eliminating violence among our whanau.

I totally support your focus on this issue, and I honour your dedication and commitment.

I think there is no cause that is more important for us to address as a people. And yet I know the cost and the struggle that is involved.

I celebrate the passion that gives you the courage and strength to take on the challenge of changing attitudes to violence, to cope with the setbacks, and to continue to offer support to whanau in crisis.

It is appropriate that this hui should be here, in a region where systematic violence against tangata whenua was met by determined non-violence. By their commitment, our tupuna at Parihaka challenged the Crown – and perhaps they challenge us as well, to fulfil their vision.

What also inspired me to come and be part of your hui, even for such a short time, is to celebrate with you the commitment that Refuge is making towards whanau development.

And I guess in coming here today, I needed to also confront a perception I had, that Refuge as a movement took excellent care of women and children – but whanau were not a priority.

It was therefore a revelation to me to look at your mission statement:

He wahine, he tamariki he ao marire mo to whanau.
He toka tu tenei mo te Tiriti o Waitangi

Women and children in violence free communities/hapu,
living te Tiriti o Waitangi

Further, I have had the privilege of attending hui with your whäea, Tena koe Kiwa; and with some of the amazing women of your movement over the last year – Ronnie, Ariana, Roma and others too many to name – thank you for sharing so honestly and passionately with me, your stories of working to heal and support the whanau with whom you are involved.

It was very affirming to hear of the commitment you make to whanau collective responsibility for healing and restoration. I listened to the practical solutions you shared, about ways to encourage whanau members to be accountable for the violence and breakdown in whanau relationships. Those stories challenged my perception and made me value your work even more.

From my own experience as a community worker, I know how important it is to feel that you are not alone – that others recognise the issues, and are prepared to support the movement for change.

So I want to talk today about some related things that are going on, and to explore how Women's Refuge might be able to find support and support whanau by working together with others on these issues.

Whanau development is the central idea.

The challenge for the government is to help create a liberating environment that enables whanau to shape and direct their own lives to meet their own priorities. Many whanau will need support as they work through this process.

As tangata whenua do this for ourselves, we expect government agencies to support us. They, too, must change ingrained behaviours and cultural patterns. Government agencies must work together with each other, and with the whanau - to support the whanau, not to direct them.

Public servants need to learn and practice skills in inter-agency co-operation, recognising our people as members of whanau rather than as individual patients or clients, listening and responding rather than initiating and controlling.

In this context, I see great value in the Maori conceptual framework for addressing family violence, which was developed by the Maori Taskforce on Whanau Violence. It can help to shift old ways of thinking about whanau violence, and to describe what is going on within the whanau from a different viewpoint.

Of course, situations arise where urgent intervention by outside agencies is absolutely necessary for the safety of vulnerable members of the whanau. But, from a whanau development perspective, violating the integrity of whanau is not a long-term solution to violence.

Whanau can learn ways to promote their own strength and well-being, instead of accepting violence as a normal way of dealing with problems. Every whanau has someone, somewhere, with something to offer, to start the process off.

One of the ‘great news’ stories last year, that never made it to the front page, was the story about ‘Rise Above It - Te Kokiritia’, an initiative in the Wairarapa which I believe is being supported and no doubt led by Wairarapa Women's Refuge Maori women's co-ordinator Raelene Pirika. In this initiative, a group got together to work alongside three families who are particularly affected by domestic violence. The group offers support, counseling and whatever it takes to build up the families' capacity to operate both independently and interdependently in whanau, free from violence.

What really appealed to me about this story was that they were starting small, and recognizing and embracing the collective responsibility and obligation to care for, and nurture other whanau members.

I didn’t hear talk of the ‘perpetrator’ or the ‘victim’. I didn’t hear about a focus on men, on women, on children. I saw this project as encouraging a self-help approach to development – supporting the three families to vision for themselves, to recognise the model of surviving and thriving which is part of our collective whakapapa.

The Maori conceptual framework does not try to tell successful practitioners how to do their job. It simply explains why agencies will be most effective where they support this process of the whanau transforming itself from a state of violence to a state of well-being.

The framework sees the transformation as involving the restoration of tikanga that have been disturbed through the process of colonisation. The imposition of different values created conflicts within the whanau and tribal communities of tangata whenua that may be manifest today as violence.

To take one small example, the individualisation of land ownership set in train a whole series of changes in attitudes to collective rights and obligations, changes in the way our people lived in communities, and different expectations of leadership and accountability to the group. Losses of language and culture followed, including values that held our whanau together in times of trouble.

Like our reo, the traditional values of tangata whenua have not been lost completely, and the task force believes they are a source of healing and restoration for many whanau who experience violence. Parihaka can still inspire a non-violent response to violence.

One reason why I like the Maori conceptual framework is because it is very consistent with a whanau development approach to social policy.

Last year, we began work on a whanau development strategy, to provide a policy framework for the public sector to support whanau as they set their own goals and work towards them.

We called a national hui in March, followed by a series of a dozen regional hui from Kaitaia to Invercargill, from Taranaki to Gisborne.

The hui provided a forum for whanau members to talk about their ideas on whanau development, to share experiences, and to contribute to policy which is being written up by Te Puni Kokiri.

The key message we got from the people is that whanau know best what is best for whanau.

During the course of the hui, I met many whanau who have made extraordinary efforts to support each other.

In one case a whanau in Invercargill got together to address the physical, sexual and psychological abuse that had traumatized their family. The three sisters who took the lead in their strategy saw education as the key tool to create healthy whanau. Over the course of their journey one now has a Bachelor of Education, one is a trained pharmacist, and the other is studying early childhood education.

In another hui we heard how the members of one whanau were so enraged with the domestic violence being served out on a regular basis that they called the key person to account – by asking him to face up to the hapu. This man – while giving the bash to the whanau behind closed doors – was out front on the pae, the main speaker for their marae, and a key person in their local kura. He was challenged to address his violence within the context of the whanau, before he could expect to take up these roles or responsibilities again.

All these stories speak volumes for tangata whenua doing it for ourselves.

I know that as whanau, we are able to vision for ourselves, a strategy by which we tautoko each other to realise our full potential, and take more control of our own well-being and development.

I take great confidence in the stories from these hui, in the stories your members have shared with me, and in the good news that doesn’t make the front page. I know that with this commitment we can restore all our whanau to a state of well-being.

On that note, I want to finish with a poem written by Teremoana Pehimana (Te Ati Awa, Nga Rauru, Ngai Tahu), entitled appropriately, Taranaki Aunties. I want to share it with you as I think it epitomizes the values, concepts and practices that I think of as proudly tangata whenua. And if I have one message for your hui, it is to confront straight on those negative perceptions – be they come from the mouths of the media, the politicians, or our own – and to respond with our own good news, that tangata whenua are doing it for ourselves – and doing it well.

Taranaki Aunties


Taranaki Aunties

too many to name,

running Owae, Muru Raupatu

and Parihaka with the men

working too.

Cuddling babies and

leading by example to tamariki

and manuhiri.

Your karanga and

waiata ringing out on

marae, your jokes and

teasing helping ringa wera

work harder.

But your beauty

not bound by make-up or glaring

clothes. No, your

raukura and simple black,

standing in dignity

and your aprons

showing you’d work

till the hui was over.

Visiting you at home, hearing

about weaving, land

struggles and people’s news. Always

The teapot and kai ready….

Always encouraging.

You’ve awhied many of us.

We’ve come back to

the city healed and inspired.

Taranaki Aunties, too many

to name…..

No reira, wahine ma, kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.

Kia ora tatou katoa.


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