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Turia Speech to Maori Party Annual General Meeting


Speech to Maori Party Annual General Meeting, 27 November 2004 Tariana Turia

‘The Brand Maori’

Last night I was invited to a different type of party launch.

The invite asked me to check out the ‘uncut hori-fied hiphop crews from GM2 kick it live’. That would then be followed with a ‘chillout party’ due to kick off about 3am.

Well I was tempted to go, but I’d left all my brand gear at home and I didn’t want to look out of place.

I should have gone: they tell me the brand that was pumping last night was the Maori brand: GM2 being the launch of another Gifted and Maori CD.

It’s a brand which is going off, whatever language you speak.

Today another brand is also gathering momentum with seven and a half thousand members.

We are here to celebrate our successes with each other, as leaders committed to the Maori Brand, the Maori Party.

I want to acknowledge our people who have come today, and to all those who are at home, to thank you all sincerely, for the huge commitment, dedication, and hard work that you have put into getting this party established.

It is no mean feat, that in five months, we have established a new Political Movement in Aotearoa. A movement that can and will embrace our whanaunga no Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the multi-ethnic communities and pakeha New Zealanders.

The level of interest in this Maori Movement is second to none in our political history.

We have met with diverse communities of interest, keen to see how their strategic interests can be advanced, utilising the Maori Party as a vehicle to advance their aspirations alongside of tangata whenua.

Today we have confirmed our constitution which grounds us, and upholds our kaupapa and tikanga to provide a way forward for all peoples who live in our lands.

We have a policy framework based on the dynamic and quality ideas that you have put foward, that will form the basis of our Policy Manifesto which we will publicly release in late January, early February 2005.

The whariki has been laid for a future based on the expectations and excitement of our people.

The focus of our policies will be on the potential of our people.

The future of the Maori Party lies in the inclusion of our rangatahi at all levels of our organisation and that includes being nominated for parliamentary selection.

70% of our tangata whenua population is under 35 years of age.

This Movement is about their future and they must participate and have a key say about that. I am committed as the Co-Leader of this Party to ensure that this happens.

Focusing on the potential of our people may mean we also need to focus on healing and restoration.

We must not be afraid to confront behaviours and attitudes that are hindering our ability to progress.

We must ensure our whanau are violence free. We should rid ourselves of any mind-altering substances because we need to be strong and in control of ourselves for the future ahead.

Our kaupapa provide us with the ways of testing our own ability to achieve well-being.

As examples of this, in a few of the policy areas we have debated today:

Manaakitanga requires the promotion of a fair and just community both in the structural functioning of society – and in the operations of its justice system. That is why we supported the case of Ahmed Zaoui, and that is why we are delighted with the landmark decision made by the Supreme Court to hear the case and allow Mr Zaoui to apply for bail.

The Maori Party will campaign for human rights not only on Maori issues but for all who may face injustice at the hands of the Crown.
Whanaungatanga directs us to take up our rights, our responsibilities and our reciprocal obligations for each other.

It’s like that ad on TV where the ‘health promoter’ is lecturing koro on how to take responsibility for health. When they eventually arrive at the party, koro duly obliges and speaks on the value of maintaining good health. But the attention turns to the health promoter who is busily piling his plate high with kai. The shot finishes with a young child just looking on…the questions unasked, but the message received.

We cannot continue to speak out and demand responses from others – from the state – from the Government – if we do not also take that same, hard look at ourselves. The kaupapa must live in all of our homes.

We must acknowledge what we have to do – and get on and do it.

Doing it – and acknowledging there will be different strokes for different folks –

I was looking at the 2001 Census figures the other day – it told me that while we have 487,000 Maori of Maori descent, there are also 300,000 ‘Europeans’ of Maori descent.

What that means is that the Gifted and Brown Generation also embraces many other diverse strands of rich and varied cultural hue.

I’ve met many of the 300,000 at airports, at shopping malls, who have come up to me and shared their whakapapa – as ‘part’ Maori, as ‘half-caste’, as having a ‘bit of Maori’ too.

I’ve encouraged them to discard the ‘bits’ and ‘parts’, and to cherish the fullness of the pathways given life through them.

We are what our ancestors have made us.

Kia whai atu ki nga tikanga me nga taonga, tuku iho o nga tupuna.

We can be Purely Porou and also absolutely Irish.

Cultural pride is not a topic of statistical analysis, the data of demographics doesn’t tell me who I am.

We need to restore to ourselves our pride and our belief in all who we are, and to see the value in us.

The diverse cultural positions and visions amongst us also challenge us to meet the needs of our new nation.

Ma nga tikanga Maori tatou e tuhono.

If we uphold our tikanga we must naturally manaaki tangata.

We have been honoured by all those peoples who have indicated their interest in the Maori Party.

We have been meeting with Pacific communities about the relationship we have as whanaunga of Te Moananui-a-Kiwa. Just yesterday we talked again with leaders from Samoan and Cook Islands communities here in Auckland, about how to progress their strategic interests.

I mihi also to our pakeha members who both collectively and individually, have been willing to waewae takahia, to beat the feet and vote Maori.

There have also been approaches made to establish Maori Party branches in London, in Korea, in Australia – membership forms sent, policy ideas received.

We welcome the opportunity to talk together, to engage, to meet each other as equal – celebrating the essence of who we are.

Our electoral strategy will reflect this – our list will be one which endorses diversity, our presence in some General Electorates will be another way to demonstrate democracy.

Maintaining the essence of who we are is not about cultural cringe.

It is not about setting pakeha up in piupiu or having a few token representatives who we wheel out on special events, and then expect them to toe the party line, to vote against their constituency.

It is about a nation predicated on difference.

A nation which welcomes challenge, which enjoys debate.

And it is a passion for robust discussion which tangata whenua have always enjoyed. No runanga or marae meeting can proceed without at least one good debate on the floor.

And so it has been with us, as we work to build consensus and build relationships with each other.

There have been plenty of onlookers eager for a good fight to take off within the ranks. And there’s been a few good headlines like ‘Sharples and Turia have different points of view’.

Our response has been to say yes indeed, and isn’t that great!

Kotahitanga is the principle of unity of purpose and direction. It is expressed through our commitment to consensus, to the achievement of harmony, to having a say. It is not about free expression being stifled, or conflict avoided.

And it is for that reason that we have encouraged branches to be established which reflect natural groupings of people.

There are groups of members of Te Tai Tonga who choose to meet up as the Lambton Quay branch every Friday night – while at the same time a couple of dozen members of the Turanga branch meet up in Gisborne, just to be together.

We have Christian branches and Morehu branches; branches identified as whanau or hapu, student branches meeting through the chilly winter nights in Dunedin.

We have travelled over water to visit the branch at Waiheke Island, and journeyed inland to the branches of Murupara, Ruatoki, Ruatoria. Onroute to the Wairarapa we’d stop off at Wairoa or Dannevirke and every time be heartened by the warmth with which people respond to the brand Maori.

And why should we be surprised?

This is a Party whose time has come.

This Party is interested in the Politics of power. Power of the People.

I’m always amused by the call from mainstream politicians for Maori leadership to come out and make a stand, share their wealth, to ‘set standards’.

The greatest leadership comes from within.

And so today, I congratulate the seven and a half thousand leaders of this party who are indeed a force to be reckoned with.

You know, many of us used to have the face of Michael Joseph Savage in the photo galleries of our homes. And he has a legitimate place in the promise of what he stood for.

But we need to look around the walls of our whare and see again, what has always been there.

The faces of our tupuna, the faces of our future.

Our homes reflect the ancestral lines that connect us. There are photos of our grandparents, our parents, our mokopuna, our whanau. Te kakano i ruia mai i rangiatea.

In any movement, you need great leadership.

Each and every one of us has the potential for that great leadership. All it takes is to believe in ourselves, and to take action.

It can be as easy as developing your own te reo strategy at home. “Every dinner time we will speak i roto i te reo rangatira”.

It may be about turning to our own Natural Capital in the pursuit of sustainable development.

Did you know that every hour in Aotearoa, 91,000 plastic shopping bags are put into landfills! If we are really committed to kaitiakitanga, one easy way is to take our own kete to the checkout. All it requires is our own initiative, our decision, today, to be proactive, and take control of our destiny.

I recall one whanau in Murihiku, who after years of being traumatized, medicalised and counselled by their experience of abuse, one day got together, and said THEY were the ones that would make the difference for their life.

It didn’t come out of a packet, but the solution they prescribed for themselves has led them on an exciting journey of self-discovery. As a whanau they decided they would place priority on education, and so one by one, they have established educational pathways and careers, which promote their own self-determination.

We do not require the promises of political parties telling us what they have done for us, what will be good for us.

Our legitimacy is by our own definition.

This year, 2004, is the last year of the United Nations International Decade of the World’s indigenous peoples. Not that you would know from the lack of interest or support from the current Government.

This is an experience shared by other indigenous communities across the globe. Indeed many states deny the very existence of indigenous peoples, or implement policies which threaten their distinct cultural identities, which endanger their health and welfare.

The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke of these threats to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May. He said:

‘For far too long the hopes and aspirations of indigenous peoples have been ignored, their lands have been taken, their cultures denigrated or directly attacked, their languages and customs suppressed, their wisdom and traditional knowledge overlooked, and their sustainable ways of developing natural resources dismissed.

Some have even faced the threat of extinction. The answer to these grave threats must be to confront them without delay’.

This country has endured the shame of the international spotlight through the confiscation policy known as the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. Our powhiri and protocols have been treated with disrespect, the Opposition has refused to grant political legitimacy to tangata whenua through the decision to not contest the Maori seats. But we will not go away.

We must confront these threats, and stand up as an independent voice of reckoning.

There have been many inspiring moments this year. But one which stands in my memory is of a man in Kaikoura, who looked me in the face, and told me he and his whanau had never voted, it was a deliberate choice – not a position of apathy as is so often made out.

Next year, he said, it will be different.

We need to capitalise on the innovative and entrepreneurial creativity that is Maori. In whatever shape it takes –be it fund-raising, te reo nights, whanau hui, kapa haka, hikoi, wananga, wearing our brand – we must come together with integrity, with purpose, and confident that we can.

We must have the courage to pursue a better future for us all.

The same courage that Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi displayed when they ploughed the lands at Parihaka and were imprisoned, along with 400 other Taranaki men, in the movement of passive resistance.

The same courage as in 1854 when the Kingitanga called a meeting at Manawapou to resist land sales. Or in Kahungunu’s legacy through the Land Repudiation Movement of the 1860s.

The same courage that runanga in the 1870s, particularly those in the North, were inspired by in their search for the real meaning of the Treaty, and which led, eventually to a national movement known as the Kotahitanga of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The same courage displayed by Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana who transformed the lives of our people with simple messages of faith, of hope, of belief and trust, that he would stand not only for the Ture Wairua but for the Ture Tangata also. In giving his support to the Labour Party it came with conditions. The Treaty to be embodied in statute. The protection from sale of our lands. No more land confiscation Compensation for land stolen

And did Labour meet their obligations to that agreement? NO! It is a long list of broken promises.

The work of Piriwiritua must and will continue, and you and I must be committed to that work.

Our kuia of Ngati Apa, Mere Rikiriki said:

‘He ringa kaha, he ringa poto, kaore e whakahoa;.

And so it must be that we stand up, without fear or favour, for our rights as tangata whenua of this land.

It has been a long journey from the first actions in 1840 to the actions right through to 2004.

Actions to seek justice in our own land and reaffirm our rangatiratanga. Actions for an Aotearoa where unity is underpinned by the expression of tangata whenua-tanga by our people.

We are the people to whom the torch has been passed. And we will pass it on, for the flame of justice must continue to burn in all our hearts.

We must honour the journey that our ancestors have made together, to create a better future for all in Aotearoa.

We must strive to achieve the dreams, the desires and aspirations of our tupuna – and take our future into our hands.

We must take up that torch, walk proudly to the ballot box, and make it happen. This is Our Time.

ENDS

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