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Turia: Speech to ASTE Annual Conference

Thursday 30 September

Tariana Turia Speech to ASTE Annual Conference : Leading Change in Tertiary Education, Kokiri te Hurihanga;

‘The Changing Face of Politics’; Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

E nga mana, e nga reo, te mana whenua o tenei rohe, tena koutou katoa. E nga rangatira o Te Hau Takitini o Aotearoa, tena hoki koutou.

You probably all remember your teachers scaring you off from making faces, by saying, ‘ watch out that the wind doesn’t change’.

Right now, some of my political colleagues will be hoping for exactly that.

The winds of change that have torn through Aotearoa, have unruffled the political landscape more than they like to let on.

Putting aside : the 4000 submissions made principally in opposition to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, or the 45,000 that marched in protest on Parliament, there are now new polls out indicating 67% of respondents in a nationwide survey accepted the Maori Party as a potential coalition partner for Labour or National .

A party that was formed less than three months ago.

Nevertheless a Party which another poll has suggested could take all of the Maori seats at the next election.

So, how did the wind change so quickly?

That, I would suggest, is a great question to be putting to your academic staff in polytechnics, institutes of technology, colleges of education, universities, whare wananga, private providers, and Rural Education Activities Programmes.

This is also but one of the reasons I am delighted to be here today.

I was really interested in your conference themes, your commitment to discussing future directions for tertiary education, and your aims to capture the best of the past to inform the future.

As an organisation, the Maori Party shares that same commitment to live according to kaupapa handed down by our ancestors.

We promote the initiative of tangata whenua, Te Kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea, remembering the genesis of our origins, and applying this foundation for the benefit of all citizens of our land. Our values and views of the world as expressed through purakau, karakia, moteatea, whakatauki, whakapapa are kaupapa tuku iho, gifts passed on to us which we must nurture and protect for future descendants.

ASTE is already a long way down the track towards understanding this vision, the expression of tangata-whenua-tanga.

I want to acknowledge the impressive leadership you demonstrated in your submission to the Select Committee on 2nd September. In particular, the expertise and experience of your kaumatua Te Huirangi Waikerepuru and Cheri Waititi was valued.

Your submission outlined how the proposed legislation would undermine the rights and responsibilities of iwi and hapu, in terms of their own tino rangatiratanga.

You also outlined that the Bill obstructs the process of natural justice, denying tangata whenua an opportunity to argue for rights in terms of tikanga, the common law, or under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

It is this last matter, the impact of Te Tiriti, that is vital to any understanding of the changing nature of politics, whether it be relating to foreshore and seabed, to the role of coalition partners, or our very foundation as a nation.

Under MMP, we are faced with a new way of doing politics, of negotiating policy, of drafting legislation. We have a new political environment which reflects the changing face of Aotearoa in every way – in cultural and demographic representation, in matters of conscience relating to life style and moral values, and in the policy priorities put forward.

Tangata whenua, as signatories with the Crown to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, must play an integral role in joining as partners in the development of Aotearoa.

MMP provides the opportunity for enhancing the relationship between the exercise of tino rangatiratanga and kawanatanga as provided for in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. But how is this done?

Tangata whenua have to be the central characters in our own revitalizing.

We need to restore to ourselves the source of our inspiration and motivation, our tikanga and kaupapa which remind us of our obligations and responsibilities to each other.

In this, we think of the natural order of the universe, the relationship of all living things to one another and the environment, and the over-riding principle of balance.

As a collective entity, our respective roles are valued and protected. We seek to encourage relationships that will reflect inter-dependence, which recognizes the reciprocal obligations consistent with being part of a wider group.

And it is in this spirit, that we come to consider the Treaty partner.

What has been disappointing, particularly over the course of this year, has been the way in which representatives of the Crown have singularly dismissed the importance of this partnership.

Just this week, we have seen the Minister of Education attempt to usurp the dubious status given to the Orewa speech by his own swipe at us.

Trevor Mallard has sought to impose his own values of prescribed timing restraints around the process of powhiri, minimizing the significance of karanga as not equating to that of whaikorero, concluding that powhiri are ‘time-wasters’ and ‘sexist’. Prime Minister Clark quickly came out in support, backing his right to complain about the length of time for such a ceremony. What this is doing, is relegating our culture to the marae, preventing our culture, our protocols, from being included in our wider society.

What has been even more alarming has been the tacit approval of his own Maori colleagues, Mr Horomia mumbling that some powhiri he’s been to have been five hours long, Mr Samuels stating that ‘with powhiri, the shorter the better’. If we don’t watch out, the Labour Party will soon be regulating NCEA standards in performance of powhiri.

What Mr Mallards’ explosion has unleashed, is yet another attack on our right to be.

And what the thousands of New Zealanders who joined the hikoi confirmed, this is not the sort of vision we had in mind for our nation.

The vision of thinking and fair-minded New Zealanders, such as the members of your own professional association and industrial union, has been for a nation by which we communicate and relate to each other as tangata whenua and tauiwi.

A vision which represents the mana of all parties.

A vision based on kotahitanga, knowledge of a shared heritage and an understanding and celebration of cultural distinctiveness.

Last weekend I attended the annual hui of the national student council for Te Wananga o Aotearoa. What struck me at that hui, were the numbers of tangata Pasifika and tauiwi, that were genuinely keen in considering the principles of the Maori Party.

Then last month we attended Te Huinga Tauira, where Te Mana Akonga made a commitment to a policy relationship with the Maori Party, outlining their support for our voice in Parliament.

It has given me great hope.

You will all be well aware of the “browning” of the New Zealand population, with increased numbers of Maori, Pacific Island, and Asian New Zealanders.

We are told that in twenty or thirty years, our population will be, on average, more Polynesian, more Asian, better educated, and more multi-lingual. The Maori population is forecast to be 15.5% in 2021, the Pacific Island population will reach 8.6% in that year, and the Asian Population will reach 12.5%.

ASTE can play a key role in preparing for this future.

You already are branching out into community development. I commend the Open Polytechnic for your recent Commonwealth of Learning award for distance education and open learning.

I would be keen to know more about how your institutes encourage learning and respond to the challenges from communities such as I visited last week in Ruatoki, Te Teko, in Taupo, or this week in Kaitaia or Kaikohe.

We are often told that bridging the digital divide is a key strategy to bring Maori on board, but I would like to caution that although Maori enrolments in IT courses, or the numbers of computers in Maori homes have increased, this has not necessarily led to high levels of technology literacy among Maori .

Partnership doesn’t mean everyone is treated the same. Research relating to indigenous learners in other countries may provide far better knowledge about successful approaches.

In this one example, tertiary education providers may consider involving sponsors and technology suppliers, community classes, mobile e-learning units, and culturally inclusive resources.

In another case, it may be that Private Training Establishments or whare wananga could be funded separately through a Treaty of Waitangi model, in recognition of the vital role they have played in increasing Maori participation in the tertiary sector .

ASTE needs to also consider how tangata whenua may be brought into your institutions, and what you can do to attract/retain and deliver to Maori students and staff.

If I think of the current political environment, it is not enough to simply recognize that there are twenty Maori MPs in the House. A true representation of MMP would also provide for cultural adjustment in how those MPs are able to contribute.

We should not expect, fifteen years after te reo has been recognised as the official language of this country, to suffer the ridicule of ‘tooreanna’ ; ‘parrykura’ or ‘tammyhairy’.

In an MMP environment, the Maori Party believes the political environment can change, to demonstrate the potential to manaaki the aspirations of Maori.

When we come back to Parliament after next year’s election, in all seven Maori electorate seats, we will be looking to demonstrate manaakitanga, to create an environment where members agree to work together, to treat each other with respect, and acknowledge the mana of all parties.

If the wind changes then, we may find ourselves facing a new nation, a nation which has been rebuilt on the premise of mutual respect and harmonious relationships.

A nation which enjoys the liberation of tangata whenua seizing the opportunity to relearn our histories, our customs, our habits and philosophies.

A nation where the lives of many people have been transformed, new horizons opened, communities enrichened. Such a nation will require change from ASTE, and it will require comprehensive and considered consultation with tangata whenua.

In doing so we must be aware, as you noted in your own submission, ‘The chequered history of genuine consultation and dialogue between the Treaty partners, at both national and local government levels, does not engender much confidence’.

I have the utmost confidence in ourselves, that we can create the change necessary to honour the commitment taken by your tupuna and mine, to lay the foundations for the next generation.

In this we can look towards a vision, as expressed by Dr Charles Royal, of the ‘evolution of a new knowledge, based upon traditional concepts which speak meaningfully to the human experience of life in these islands’ .

Maranga mai ra tatau kia tu tahi tatau mo tika me te pono. Tena koutou, Tena koutou, Tena koutou katoa.

ENDS

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