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Horomia: Debate on the Prime Ministers address 04

Parekura Horomia: Debate on the Prime Ministers address 2004

Mr Speaker.I am pleased to be able to stand in this house and support the Prime Minister who is leading a government that is passionate about the future of New Zealand. I congratulate the Prime minister on the leadership she has shown in determining the government's key priorities for this year.

The priorities for me as Minister of Maori Affairs will continue to be,

• Strengthening communities;

• Providing opportunities;

• And building partnerships.

In the current climate, it would be easy to be deflected from our priorities for Maori.but that's not going to happen. We are now getting the returns on our endeavours. We will continue to seek new and innovative solutions that work for our people. Making progress for Mâori is never easy but we are determined to consolidate the work achieved so far and into the future.

What is good for Maori is good for New Zealand.

Maori as a people and Maori culture exist - this is recognised by both Maori and other people. It would be a tragedy for New Zealand, not just Maori, if this unique part of our national life (not found anywhere else in the world) was undermined, damaged or lost.

Mr Speaker this government is about evening the odds and accelerating progress. Historically the situation of Maori has been dramatically transformed. In the 50's 60's and 70'sMaori moved from the country into the cities. They moved for jobs and were an integral part of the workforce. Most Mâori 16 years old and over paid tax, looked after their families, and contributed to the national wealth.

A major proportion of Mâori live in urban areas - but our people are increasingly looking to their traditional roots through a range of mediums such a sports, ta moko, music, kapa haka.

This government is committed to meeting the needs of all New Zealanders while recognising their diversity. As Maori Affairs Minister this means making sure that whanau hapu and Iwi have opportunities that meet their needs.

The economy is stronger and more balanced than in any time in the last thirty years. New Zealand has been one of the best performing economies in the OECD - we posted the fastest growth rate at 4.4 per cent and that is creating an environment of opportunity.

In 2003 over 40-thousand more Maori had a job than in 1999. The number of Maori receiving the unemployment benefit has dropped by over 30 percent. Maori businesses are thriving, providing employment opportunities and increased income. Indeed they are adding to the richness of life for all New Zealanders. The Mäori Business Facilitation Service has successfully assisted 654 clients start a business or implement an expansion or turnaround strategy.

The passage of the Maori Fisheries bill heralds a new era of Maori participation in the fishing industry. It will enable the beneficiaries of the 1992 Fisheries Settlement to receive the assets and use them for the economic and social benefit of all Maori. And dare I say that this is providing jobs for non Mâori and well as Mâori .

This settlement is worth more than $700 million and it has taken more than 10 years to reach this point. Parliament, the Fisheries Commission and Maori now have the chance to usher in a new era of opportunity for Maori in the fishing and seafood industry.

New Zealand is a nation on the move and Maori are playing a navigational role in determining that direction. Yes we are over-represented in the negative statistics and as a society we must all be proactive in finding solutions. Maori want to be involved in decisions about their future. The days of their future being determined by others is over.

Our achievements are based around investing in our future. What is good for Maori is good for the nation.

Maori are a young population compared to non-Maori so it is critical we make the investment now to ensure a prosperous future for all New Zealanders.

Maori have shown that they are eager to take up the opportunities to increase their skill base and education. In 2002 almost 1-6 Maori over the age of 15 was participating in tertiary education and the trend is continuing.

Last year 27 Maori graduated with doctorates from New Zealand Universities, nearly double the number in 2002. And this year there will be more

These things don't happen by accident. There is no one size fits all solution - governments that take that approach consign our people to the same place they were at when we took office - and that is not right.

There are more than 800 young Maori taking part in the modern apprenticeship programme, which is around 14 percent of the total number. This is real investment that is making a difference in the lives of people who will contribute to the future growth of our nation.

Almost a third of those school children taking part in the Gateway programme are Maori.

This programme recognises that not all school children want to go to university. It allows senior students to start work based qualifications while they are still at school - more importantly they also learn the disciplines of work.

One of the primary aims for our government has been to provide a stable environment that will assist growth and innovation. And we've done that.

It's been important to us that information is downloaded and shared and in these modern times coming to grips with the electronic medium is essential.

On the 28th of March Maori Television will broadcast its full service to the nation. It has taken a long time for this to happen, but we are determined to make sure it is a success.

(In the 1970s the same time Nga Tama Toa was pushing for constitutional change the Welsh Language Society began to campaign for a Welsh language radio and television service but it was not until 1982 when the fourth channel for Wales, was launched. Many in Wales now believe had it not been for the establishment of this initiative then the Welsh language days were numbered).

Te reo Maori is important. It is a point of difference that we as a nation should celebrate and nurture. It should not be used to undermine what is essentially a part of our uniqueness. That is just not fair, nor is it right.

Last year Te Mangai Paho commissioned a survey of almost 28,000 Maori which found that half of those living in areas covered by Maori radio were tuning in on a regular basis but many Maori are not living where the language is strong. is a tool that is allowing people from around the country and indeed globally to listen to their language being used on an everyday basis. This is significant because it validates Te reo Maori as a living breathing and evolving language.

In the Arts, we have had some of our most spectacular achievements. The government made a strategic decision after the 1999 election to invest in the Arts and the results of that vision are now beginning to pay off. We have an industry that is fostering a new awareness of ourselves as a nation.

Whale Rider is internationally follows in the wake of other success stories like Lord of the Rings indeed we have marketed New Zealand and our brand successfully. New Zealand is a sought after location for big budget movies. Our actors and directors are living breathing billboards and Maori are playing a key role in developing that brand.

Temuera Morrison, Cliff Curtis, Lee Tamahori and now Keisha Castle Hughes are international names they got there largely on their own.

Reviews of Whale Rider actors like Keisha and Rawiri Paratene reveal they are being lauded for their efforts on the international stages. The Sydney Morning Herald suggests "you need look no further than the strength of its Maori cast, whose faces are so right for the art of screen acting that the camera can't seem to get enough of them".

What reviews like these show, is that it is okay to be Maori and that we have a world view that is relevant in a modern context. We do have stories to tell and the world has an appetite willing to devour and savour the flavour that is us.

I said it before and I'll say it again New Zealand is a nation on the move.

Maori have a place in this society.

We are not privileged as Don Brash would have you believe. How much of a privilege is it, to have our prisons bursting at the seams with our people? How much of a privilege is it, to have Maori over represented in the negative statistics?

What we have done is shown leadership by providing, not unlike those offered to other sector groups who want to contribute to building our nation.

I will not apologise for bringing down the unemployment rate for Maori, I will not apologise for ensuring that Maori have a bright future, I will not apologise for making sure that Mâori have opportunities.

We will always be the indigenous people of this land - we are tangata whenua and there is a specialness inherent in that which we will continue to celebrate in partnership with other New Zealanders.

Mr Speaker - this is going to be a good year for Maori and as such a good year for the Country. We will be building on our achievements and accelerating our progress into the future.

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