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Turia: A World Without Violence'

Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa Hui-a-Tau 2005
Takapuwahia Marae, Porirua Graduation

Saturday 12 November 2005; 2pm

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

'Transforming the world to a world without violence'

E nga mana, e nga reo, tena koutou. Ngati Toa Rangatira, tena koutou.

E nga kaiwhakahaere o tenei hui, tena hoki koutou

It is always a great pleasure to come to graduation ceremonies. To witness the sheer pleasure that the hard work has been completed, the assignments all handed in and marked, the fast and frenetic panic at the end all suddenly worthwhile. And to celebrate that it's all over - and time to party!

Well - while there's always time to party when it's a Maori Party - I'm here to say actually it isn't all over.

In fact it's really just begun.

For today you go out into world as you always have as Tai Tokerau, Ngati Kahungunu, Mataatua, Atiawa, Toarangatira Raukawa, and all that you are.

That much has not changed.

But in every other respect you will be released into the world as completely new and unique beings.

I'm here today to announce the arrival of the Project Mauriora Whanau, Hapu and Iwi Practitioner!

The 150 whanau leaders that we have in our midst will truly serve to change our world, into the world of Toitu Te Iwi - resilient, sustainable, vibrant Maori nations.

I want to congratulate your whanau on the incredible support that you have provided to these practitioners. That support will now come back in abundance through the skills and passion your students have acquired for supporting your whanau, hapu and iwi.

I want to also recognise the importance of the visionaries within us - those that can see when others are blinded by the problems, the 'what ifs', the doubts.

I'm talking about people such as Tamati Kruger, Jozie Karanga, Jeanette Katene and many, many others. Those who saw beyond the statistics of violence and abuse, and knew there was a better way ahead.

Generally I don't like using statistics as you know what they always say about statistics : "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics[1]".

For what we don't know behind the official count, is how many incidents weren't reported; how many incidents were hidden away behind closed doors, were guarded as secrets - to be kept 'in the family' - nobody needs to know.

What I know today is that those artificial walls protecting the privacy of violent lives will be slowly but surely dismantled.

For the protection you will be offering is the protection of whakapapa, of our kaupapa and tikanga, of a life long commitment to the restoration of peace within our whanau.

You have debunked the myth that violence of any sort is normal and acceptable.

And at today's graduation, I think that is the proudest celebration for us all.

Your life has been irreversibly changed. You cannot take back what you know now - and nor should you. For today we celebrate your leadership in the transformation of our whanau from sites for violence to sites of well-being.

The tohu you graduate with today is the knowledge that you will facilitate, educate, monitor and translate all that you have gained through Project Mauriora into practice with whanau, hapu and iwi.

I'm not saying that you're going to become 'dial a rescue team' - your role is not to do it for them, but to show by your example, how it can be done, and how we can all liberate ourselves from the stranglehold of violence within our society.

And in saying that I want us to think deliberately, clearly, consciously about the images expressed around us - how much that violence has become part of the fabric of how we live.

One of the saddest moments for me is when I overhear our babies playing, and their language is of 'smash them'; 'kill', 'you're going to die for that'.

Children today have access to a frightening array of images of violence and destruction just from turning on the TV sets - whether it's the 6pm news, cartoons, or 'adult movies' - there seems to be an endless repertoire of abuse available as entertainment.

Violence prevention must take place at all levels. We must all be vigilant to ensure whether it is a kura playground or a wananga campus, that these spaces do not become a site for conflict or abuse, but for cherishing the essence of every one who inhabits them.

Violence prevention is about removing opportunities for violence to be perpetuated in any setting - whether it is on the street or in the debating chamber.

I was disappointed this week by some of the korero in the House, when the poroporoake to Rod Donald and David Lange were being expressed.

I heard comments about how it was a rare day to hear everyone talking with so much respect, how stirring it was to hear the level of unity echo around the walls of the chamber.

The language of respect should not be reserved for 'one-off' occasions - it should be our every day way of communicating.

Perhaps one of the greatest legacies the late co-leader of the Greens left us, was his life as a person of peace. I never once heard Rod Donald attack people personally or raise his voice to put another Member down.

The language of violence, personal put downs, abusive comments are too frequently used as means of communication - whatever occupation we are in.

Perhaps one of the most challenging areas is an occupational industry which so many of our young are attracted to - the armed forces. This is of course fresh in our minds, with the remembrance yesterday of Armistice Day.

I have been reading information from the United States which revealed that the rate of violent victimization of spouses in the US military has steadily increased over the last decade, from a rate of 18.6 - to 25.6 - per 1000[2].

Even more revealing was that one in four female service members under the age of fifty has been physically abused[3].

The study also reveals that relatively few military personnel are ever prosecuted or sanctioned on charges of domestic violence.

This sort of information, while sobering, is really important for us to look at - and to ask our own questions about whether the practice of violence on the job is also being carried out in the home, here in Aotearoa.

I have been greatly in favour of the concept of promoting our armed forces as peace-keepers - looking at peace and resolution as the focus of our engagement.

The urgency for transformative practice which provides alternatives to violence has never been more apparent. If we are truly committed to a vision of mauri ora for our whanau, hapu and iwi, we need to take on the world - starting today!

What you have gained through Project Mauriora is the tools that can help us all to bring about the transformation from violence -drawing on our whakapapa, tikanga, wairua, tapu, mauri and mana. These lifetime treasures will be an ever-present source of encouragement and guidance to support whanau living in today's realities - te ao hurihuri.

Exactly a week ago, you may have felt a revolution occurring, not too far from here. Last weekend, at the runanganui of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, a passionate debate was held on the challenge of Maori putting an end to violence within the families.

One of the most vocal speakers was Rev Puti Murray, who had spent over a decade in an urban ministry in Otara, where she founded a sanctuary for abused women and their children.

The delegates of the hui were asked the question - how many present had either been the subject of violence - or had known violence in their whanau.

At least two-thirds of the gathering put their hands up.

But not one hand went up, when the next question was put -did anyone know how to eliminate violence?

It was a moment of huge revelation for the hui, and a motion was unanimously passed:

"to commit itself to eliminate family violence and all forms of violence between God's people; and to give priority to understanding the causes of family violence".

The tragic footnote to this story is that within an hour of this motion being passed, Rev Puti Murray had passed away.

As we all know, in te Ao Maori, timing is everything.

The nation has had cause for much reflection this week, about the value of a life well-lived, the need we all feel for a life of peace, of whanau well-being.

The challenge to live consciously through the influence of our kaupapa and tikanga is one that we must all strive for, because the outcomes are so important.

I am inspired by the vision that one day, I could ask a hui - how many of you live in a whanau where every form of violence has been eliminated - and every hand will go up.

We must begin to remove opportunities for violence to be practiced and then replace these practises with positive and healthy alternatives.

The opportunities for healing, for restoration, for prevention reside in kaupapa Maori practices.

To whakamana each other, to treat each other with respect. To be conscious of mana atua, mana whenua and mana tangata as creating the balance within our lives.

To understand mauri as fundamental to our healing. To restore a sense of tapu, to nurture our wairua, as the heartbeat, the core of whanau wellbeing.

To see our tikanga as providing us with the time-treasured base to revive order, peace and mana for whanau, hapu and iwi.

This Graduation today is a moment for exhilaration for us all.

Today we celebrate the realisation of a dream with the implementation of the Indigenous Qualifications Framework and Te Awhi Paa - the Aotearoa Whanau, Hapu, Iwi Practitioner Association.

And finally today, we celebrate US - our whakapapa, our tupuna, our tikanga - deserve nothing but the best - to be cherished in every practice, every word, every beat of our heart.

Ko te mea nui he tangata i heke mai i nga tupuna.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------
[1] Attributed to Disraeli
[2] FY90-96 Spouse and Child Maltreatment, Department of Defense. Domestic Violence in the Military.
[3] Women Veterans' Experience with Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment, Drs. Murdoch and Nichol, 1993.

ENDS

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