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Turia Speech: Maori AUT Student Support Network

Tariana Turia Speech: The Maori Student Support Network of AUT: Kai o te Po Thursday 28 October 2004

‘How to run a great party…. or in search of a stack of pancakes’

Ngati Whatua, tena koutou. E nga iwi e huihui nei, tena hoki koutou. Tena koutou kua tae mai nei ki manaaki i te karanga o te po.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Maori; Toby Curtis; tena koe e te uri o Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Rongomai.

I saw some advertising of this event promoting that I would be discussing the dynamics of Maori leadership. Far be it for me not to follow the rules, but I actually want to focus on the basis of leadership for our country as a whole.

And what better day to do this, than today.

As most of you present are probably aware, today we commemorate the signing of the Māori Declaration of Independence on the 28 October 1835.

I believe it is significant that today, one hundred and sixty-nine years since the signing that the Māori Party has introduced the first constitutional policy for New Zealand, prepared by Māori for the benefit of all New Zealand.

Earlier today, at the Declaration of Independence Celebrations in Taranaki, I spoke about the importance of a written constitution, binding on Government and the Crown, to carry us forward in the process of rebuilding our nation.

That written constitution must demonstrate our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of this nation.

Our belief is that it is irrefutable, that the rights inherent in citizenship of a democracy, have been and continue to be, abrogated in respect of Māori and other minority peoples in New Zealand.

We believe there must be checks and balances to prevent minorities being tyrannised by the majority race.

Our clear preference is for a relationship between the peoples, a relationship which I believe our tupuna signed up to in good faith, the promise of a relationship between tangata whenua, and those who have come from other lands to call Aotearoa home.

A relationship of mutual respect between hosts and guests.

And so what I want to talk about today, is how to demonstrate leadership through the relationships between each other.

A couple of years ago, I got into a spot of hot water, when I raised questions about the etiquette associated with hosting and guesting.

I got all sorts of questions from worried New Zealanders, thinking what I really meant to say, was that some guests had outstayed their welcome! And could I name names…..

Well, rather than go down that track, what I genuinely wanted was for us all to think about our roles as hosts and guests, as mana whenua and manuhiri.

The concept of hosting and guesting is fairly unproblemmatic when we think, say, of parties that involve alcohol. Advertising promos reminds us that a good host provides food, a safe venue and ensures, alternative transport is available or a bed for the night.

We’re not given so much help when it comes to defining what makes a good guest, but we’ve probably all been at some parties when guests could do with some training about do’s and don’ts. At a minimum, we would expect that guest do not trash the house, and are respectful to the host.

Those simple rules ensure all have a safe and enjoyable time. When they are not followed, it puts unnecessary pressure on everybody.

Moving to a different type of party, the Maori Party, we would like to think such basic guidelines about hosting and guesting, could also apply to running a great nation.

Let’s take tonight. As manuhiri in the rohe of Ngati Whatua, it is encumbent on George and I, to accept our role as guests, to accord the dignity and respect to our hosts by accepting the way things are done here, and to adhere to the required protocols.

Thinking wider, across the iwi nations of Aotearoa, tangata whenua are committed to according the dignity and respect all guests deserves – whether they arrived 169 years ago or just last week.

The commitment we require as a nation is for us both to develop a considerate and respectful relationship, providing the country with the leadership it deserves and allowing time for reflection on the past and the enthusiasm for the future to be the focus.

Within this, just as we all understand that the unilateral term ‘Maori’ fails to recognise the full diversity, the hapu and iwi dynamics of the tangata whenua reality, so too must we understand the richness and diversity of those who now call this land home.

The Māori Party believes that New Zealand is a multi-ethnic society, as distinct from the oft-touted multi-cultural, which depicts a blending of more than one culture.

In this institution you are well placed to understand the difference between distinctive multi-ethnic communities, and the ‘melting pot’ syndrome.

The ‘Melting Pot’ school of thought takes me back a generation to the children’s story, ‘Little Black Sambo’, where a little Afro-American boy living in India, lost his red coat and his blue trousers and his purple shoes under the pursuit of tigers.

Each of the tigers had one of Little Black Sambo's things. They all fought because they all wanted to be the grandest of the jungle, chasing each other around a tree so fast that they melted into butter. In the end Little Black Sambo got all of his things back and Black Mumbo made good use of the butter by turning it into a wonderful 169 pancakes for supper.

Of course this story has been open to much interpretation, notably that the image of Sambo has been used as a symbol of repression of Africans and African-Americans.

But I want to also consider another view, in that young Sambo, is actually a clever young boy who is able to outwit a band of voracious tigers to return home not only alive, but defiantly so.

One reading of the story could therefore be – if you retain the true essence of who you are – red coat, blue trousers, purple shoes and all – you may indeed end up triumphant, and feasting on a stack of pancakes!

Whereas the tigers, continually chasing each other’s tails, quarrelling amongst themselves about who is grandest, end up as lard.

So what’s all this to do with the Declaration of Independence, Leadership and Aotearoa in 2004?

The Maori Party believes that Aotearoa in 2004 is at risk of our varied cultures, ending up chasing and contradicting each other, and leaving the monocultural European influence, unchallenged.

This has been the way economically, socially and politically from post the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi.

But it does not have to remain so.

When I look at your campus – I see the effort that has gone into creating the various associations for Cook Island, Samoan, Papua New Guinea, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian and international students. I commend the initiative taken to establish the Pasifika staff network as a collective of over seventy members of Pasifika staff.

I’m impressed by the way every new international student is welcomed to life at AUT with a marae noho, with basic introduction of our culture, including our waiata, haka, even raranga.

And I celebrate with you an institution that is trying to promote the red coats, blue trousers, purple shoes, and doing so in the spirit of manaakitanga.

Last week I spoke with a young Somalian woman who told me that although she loved it here in this new land, she was finding it hard to understand and adjust to the culture of her new home.

Hers is a story we must listen to, if we are to honour the expectations of our ancestors.

The Party believes that our ancestors, both tangata whenua and pakeha, entered into a relationship of good will and promise, a relationship based on a vision of a nation of cultural diversity and richness, the red, the blue and the purple, but with its unity underpinned by the expression of tangata whenua-tanga by Maori, Te Kakano i ruia mai i rangiatea.

If we are to return to the promise of the Treaty, the Māori Party believes it is essential that constitutional change be debated.

We seek a new era in politics, where the essence of all peoples can truly be represented and present in not just the debating chamber, but the policies and budget decisions that emerge.

We also believe that there are hundreds of thousands of our citizens who would prefer a country that is fair for all the ethnic groups comprising New Zealand.

Who understand that the true exercise of power carries with its an obligation to be fair and accountable to all people in New Zealand.

Finally tonight, I want us to focus on promoting Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a celebration of our founding document.

A document that protected existing rights of the tangata whenua and accorded new rights to those who settled here.

It was a prescription for respectful relationships and unity.

Let us read and understand the Treaty words and put it into practice in our daily lives. That is how unity will be achieved.

Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

© Scoop Media

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