Parekura Horomia Address at Hui Taumata 2005
Hon Parekura Horomia Minister of Mâori Affairs
Address at Hui Taumata 2005
Te Papa, Wellington
10.30 am Tuesday 1 March 2005
Just over twenty years ago I attended the first Hui Taumata as one of the youth representatives. Today I stand before you as the Minister of Mäori Affairs.
Developing its people is the most important task for any nation. Building capability and developing partnerships amongst our people, across our nation and with the wider international community is a challenge facing us all.
The Last Twenty Years We have come a long way since the first Hui Taumata in 1984. Prior to that time, much of our energies were focused on addressing our historical situation. We strived to be recognised as a people with a distinct language and distinctive cultural markers. Under the leadership that emerged over that period, substantive gains were made in terms of the expansion of opportunities.
The message of the first Hui Taumata was clear. Maori had to be empowered to initiate, design and deliver their own solutions.
"By Mäori for Mäori" has had its greatest impact on the survival of our language and culture. In 1983, Mäori language education was in its infancy, it has since experienced phenomenal growth and development. Hundreds of young people have emerged from institutions like te kohanga reo and are now coming out of secondary school including kura kaupapa with a high degree of fluency and with a knowledge and understanding of who they are.
In the mid-eighties the Te Mâori exhibition toured the USA to international acclaim and then came home to be seen for the first time by many New Zealanders. Mâori writers and artists came into greater prominence. The eyes of the world, indeed the eyes of New Zealand were suddenly opened. The establishment of the Mäori Television Service now brings Mäori language and culture every day into the nation's homes.
The position of Mäori language and culture in the modern world is now assured.
The first Hui Taumata also saw a sound economic base as crucial in shifting from dependency and in ensuring our social and economic survival. Highlights on the economic front have been the growth in capability of Mäori managers and the accompanying asset base that has occurred, the increase in the number of Maori who own their own businesses and the rise of the Maori corporates and their engagement with mainstream and international businesses.
By far the biggest earner and contribution Mäori make to the economy is participation in the labour market. Mäori households earn $4.3 billion in wages and salaries each year. Mäori unemployment is down to an all time low. Thousands more Mäori are in work than when we were elected. Over 90% of all Mäori who can work are working. Mäori enterprise is still on the move. Over the last three years Mäori exceeded non- Mäori in the total entrepreneurial activity stakes. Many Mäori entrepreneurs continue to express their confidence and optimism about business opportunities.
Maori social development has been marked by the growth in the number and range of Maori provider and social service organisations. Education continues to be a cornerstone of social development. The numbers of Maori studying at and graduating from tertiary institutions, has grown considerably. It is pleasing to note the emergence of graduates in modern day sciences. And throughout this period, our population has continued to grow in terms of numbers and in terms of diversity.
Our people are developing the skills that support their participation and achievement in te ao Mäori, and as global citizens. 20,000 Mäori are in some type of industry training. Our numbers in early childhood education have almost trebled since 1983.
And although this is still not high enough, it is a strong start. Our tertiary rates are now high with numbers 15 times what they were nearly 20 years ago. But enrolments are clustered in lower level courses. Our challenge is to lift the level of study and qualification being achieved.
Working together Mäori and this Government have achieved a great deal. Our country and our people are very different from what they were twenty, ten and even five years ago.
The Current Context Let us not forget that these developments took place in an important national and global context. Nationally and globally the world has moved on since 1984.
Over the last five years this Government has sought to create an environment of stability, and growth. “We are no longer trying to pull ourselves out of a hole” Dr Cullen commented at the end of last year, in a speech I would encourage you to read. We have instituted good economic stewardship and sound social policy for the benefit of all New Zealanders. We have reduced New Zealand's unemployment levels to the lowest in the OECD. We have put in place policies and programmes like Modern Apprenticeships and Working for Families.
Our demographics tell us the state of Maoridom is now one of youthful intelligence, energy and expectancy. Combined with a growing economy this creates a positive context for future prosperity.
We have to keep moving forward. We cannot lose momentum. We must be ready to embrace any new challenges that lie ahead. Like the fact that today there are approximately 600,000 Mâori in New Zealand. That’s one in seven people. By 2021 it’s estimated we will number 800,000. That’s one in every six New Zealanders. Overall the New Zealand population is aging. The baby boom generation is heading for retirement. There will be fewer young people to fill jobs and drive the economy. Making Mâori capability a key driver in the future economic well-being of New Zealand. The number of our people in the main working ages (15-64 years) is projected to increase 34 per cent from 350,000 in 2001 to 468,000 in 2021. Staggering as it sounds, it’s estimated that our untapped employment potential is around $45 billion. That’s about five times the value of our tangible assets. The task is to move to the next level. To unlock, unleash and realise our potential. This is what the next 20 years of Mâori policy is about.
The Challenges In making progress there are challenges we will face.
There is no place for complacency. We are not an island unto ourselves. We are part of a nation and part of an increasingly interconnected world. Economic shocks in other parts of the world have repercussions here.
For our own future protection, we need to raise our educational standards, enhance and diversify our skills and ensure that we are more evenly distributed across all areas of the labour market. The reason that we suffered so greatly from the economic reforms in the 1980s was that our workforce was concentrated in low and semi-skilled jobs in Railways, Ministry of Works and other departments affected by the restructuring and in the processing industries.
If there was one single factor that motivated me to take the journey into politics, it had to be the memory of that event. To see thousands upon thousands of our people rendered unemployed by the restructuring of the state sector and all within two to three years of the first Hui Taumata was heart-breaking and it is something that I would not want to see repeated.
I for one, have some doubts about our preparedness. Devolution has brought with it some negative by-products, fragmentation and a lack of focus in particular. The proliferation of Maori provider organisations and the competition among them for government and other contracts is an example of fragmentation. In looking at some of the programmes that are being run, I have to ask myself, have we not simply replaced government as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff and what does the proliferation suggest about dependency? If we want to improve Maori health in the future, or Maori educational attainment, in what should we be currently investing? Where do we get the biggest bang for our buck?
We must work with others rather than in isolation. Partnerships, collaboration and networking are going to be critical to our development in the future. There is considerable room for partnerships and other forms of collaboration with local government and businesses, with private and voluntary sector organisations and with international organizations and businesses.
Effective governance will be vital. We know governance for many Mäori collectives is complex because of the inability of members to trade out of their membership. The communal nature of ownership and the role of kaitiaki for future generations. We know from international studies that governance structures that are culturally attuned are more likely to achieve success. We want Mäori collectives to have access to governance structures that enable Mäori to succeed as Mäori.
We must build the capability now amongst our young. The growing Mâori economy requires a unique blend of executive and cultural leadership skills. Many gathered here are, like me, the products of the last generation of manual labourers. We were neither close to sciences and academia nor upper level management. It is therefore critical that we ensure that we have a succession plan to ensure future success. It is critical that our young achieve in education at the highest level and are not constrained by our horizons. They must go beyond the limits of our world and be influential participants in the wider community that affects our own.
If we want our youth to be brokers in the modern world, then we must focus on outcomes and not be trapped by our own rhetoric. We must climb above debating process and gain agreement on the results and outcomes we intend to achieve.
In closing I urge you to consider that culture should not be left to remain static. We enjoy the many advances that progress into the 21st century has offered us. We live in a modern democratic society where there is every opportunity within our grasp. We must take up these opportunities.
As Minister of Mâori Affairs I pledge my ongoing commitment to work with our people to realize their ambitions. This Government shares that commitment to Mâori too. We have a unity of purpose. We can do this together. Moving forward. With confidence. And success.