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PM: Address to Hui Taumata 2005

Tuesday 1 March 2005

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister

Address to Hui Taumata 2005
Te Papa Wellington

10.30am

Tuesday 1 March 2005

E nga mana. E nga reo. E nga iwi o te motu. E aku rau rangatira ma. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Maoridom gathers here today, more than twenty years after the first hui taumata, to chart new pathways to the future. Maoridom gathers here from a position of strength, knowing that over the last two decades there has been an extraordinary renaissance. Indeed, twenty years ago it would have been hard to foresee the development on every front which characterises what’s happening in Maoridom today.

The proceedings of this hui taumata do involve an assessment of the progress in Maori development over the last two decades. But far and away the most important focus is on looking forward and moving ahead to accelerate Maori development. Developing people. Developing assets. Developing enterprise. This matters to us all.

Maori children comprised 25 per cent of all children in New Zealand in 2001, and that proportion is projected to rise to 28 per cent by 2021. The ability of Maori children and young people to stand tall and make a big contribution to our country’s development and wellbeing is critical to our common future.

New Zealand is a small country. All four million of us, whatever our origins, are in the same waka. For our nation to move ahead, everyone in the waka must have the chance to succeed.

That’s why the government supports this hui. We share the commitment of everyone here to Maori success. It’s good also to see representatives of other political parties attending. I believe we all understand that Maori success is crucial to New Zealand’s success.

I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of colleagues over the past twenty years who, each in their own way, have contributed to Maori development. Koro Wetere and David Lange established the first Hui Taumata, and their government enabled the process of settling Treaty claims going back to 1840 to begin. Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, Sir Douglas Graham, and Georgina Te Heu Heu have been committed to the Treaty settlements process; and Ministers of Maori Affairs over the past two decades, including Winston Peters, Doug Kidd, John Luxton, Tau Henare, and Dover Samuels, have each made a contribution in their own way.

The current Minister of Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, has touched on some of the milestones for Maoridom reached in the last 20 years. It has been an incredible journey, and it is a journey of development which Maoridom must continue to lead.

David Lange opened the first hui taumata by issuing a challenge to Maoridom. He said then that the desire for change must well up in the community itself and come from the hearts of the people. He said that the government could not impose change, but nor should it be an obstacle to change – and where there was a will for change, the government must work alongside that will.

Today the government stands here in that spirit. Maoridom itself is supplying the navigators and is building the waka to carry Maori forward. All New Zealand looks forward to watching this waka sail even faster on a rising tide, and we want to be sailing alongside you.

There is no doubt that the tide is rising. As the economy has done so much better, there has been more funding for the things which matter: our health and education services, and support for our families and older citizens. The government’s role is to ensure that New Zealand’s growth and development continues, by supporting policies which make us more skilled, more innovative and more productive, and as a result more secure and more confident to meet the challenges which lie ahead.

Every whanau, every family in New Zealand, shares the same dream for their young people: we want them all to reach their full potential. That’s what my government dedicates itself to. We know that working together we can build a society in which Maori, along with all New Zealanders, have a firm stake. We believe that by unlocking peoples’ talents, a progressive, modern Maori economy, capable of continually renewing and reinventing itself, can be built.

This hui starts from a solid base when we look at the fast rising education achievements of Maori, and the development of Maori assets and enterprise. In 2001, for example, the Maori commercial asset base was conservatively estimated to be worth nearly $9 billion. The Maori economy itself, although small, is comparatively profitable. And Maori business is exporting at a significantly higher rate than does the New Zealand economy as a whole.

Accelerating Maori development further will require leadership, commitment, and good strategies and policies. Participants at this conference know that there’s no room for complacency, the status quo, or for going back to policies of the past.

We will need to draw on each others strengths to move ahead. Building and sustaining prosperity is a never ending task. It requires continual re-evaluation and adaptation of our policies and strategies so that growth and development is sustained. Whether we be governments, iwi organisations, businesses, or other groups, that is our challenge.

In recent years, New Zealand’s economic performance has been very good, but to sustain our prosperity we will need to do even better. That’s why the government is focusing on lifting productivity and participation levels in the workforce, and our level of savings.

For three years now, government economic development policy has been guided by the Growth and Innovation Framework, with the aim of improving living standards and enhancing the well-being of all New Zealanders. It focuses on developing education and skills; fostering innovation, enterprise, and exporting; and encouraging greater investment.

This ties in well with the three themes of this hui: developing people, developing assets, and developing enterprise. We want New Zealand to be a creative, energetic, and dynamic nation, confidently taking its place in the world. We see Maori as a creative, energetic, and dynamic force in that progressive New Zealand.

We know the building blocks for a confident and secure nation are confident and secure whanau. A society in which every whanau has a stake and sees a future makes our nation strong and secures the forward momentum we seek.

I believe Maori have every reason to be confident about the future and about Maori achievements. I believe in celebrating Maori successes – across business, education, sport, arts and culture – across the many areas where Maori are doing well.

As Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, I would like to acknowledge the role of Maori in reflecting the essence of who we are, where we have come from and what we can aspire to be. Maori are at the cutting edge of our success throughout the arts, culture, and heritage sector, and have helped to raise the profile of our nation to new heights through film and the performing and visual arts. Only this week, Taika Waititi’s ‘Two Cars, One Night’ - filmed at Te Kaha - was being considered for an Oscar.

Flourishing arts and culture give us a stronger sense of national identity. That makes us a stronger nation. It builds our resilience for the challenges ahead. It builds our capacity working together to succeed in meeting those challenges.

Where do Maori want to be in twenty year’s time? That is what you will be discussing over the next few days. The stimulus papers have already generated much debate, and that debate will continue during the presentations and discussions over the course of the Hui.

Thank you all for coming. The incredible turnout shows a great willingness to be part of charting the future. And special thanks to the Steering Group - chaired by Sir Paul Reeves and including Dame Te Atairangikaahu, Dame Georgina Kirby, Hon Koro Wetere, Professor Ngatata Love, Professor Linda Smith, Alison Thom, Rob McLeod, Tumu Te Heu Heu, Shane Jones, Rawiri Te Whare, Mark Solomon, Katerina Bennett, and Taria Tahana – for all your hard work in preparation for the Hui.

I look forward to receiving and responding to the hui’s findings on Thursday. We are a nation with huge potential. We recognise that potential in Maori. We are committed to a bold agenda and working with you to realise that potential.

ENDS


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