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Turia: State of the Nation Address

State of the Nation Address

Tariana Turia; Co-leader, Maori Party

Tuesday 14 February 2006


Last week the nation held its breath as a young man went missing, presumed drowned. The moment of his discovery was marveled at, right across the country, as we appreciated the deep faith and courage in his story.

It was a pure Maori moment - his whanau gifting and calling to Tangaroa to return their taonga; the young man drawing on the love and faith of his whanau and his god, to sustain him during his ordeal.

The nation stood still in awe of the quiet assurance of this whanau who believed in their own power; who believed in a spiritual power; who believed.

The Maori Party seeks nothing less for any other family in this land. The faith in ourselves to believe in our own potential.

Mä te kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tatou.

In unity, we have strength. If we can revive the ability of families to believe in their own potential, we will be invincible.

We have seen that potential, just over a week ago, with the new spirit that has embraced the nation regarding Waitangi Day. Of the 765 people surveyed in a nationwide poll, 77 per cent thought Waitangi Day should remain New Zealand's national day.

The increasing significance of Waitangi to New Zealanders must put to rest any grumblings about the need to create a new national day, or indeed any unfounded fears of scrapping and unrest.

The obvious presence of an independent Maori voice in this House serves to remind us all that diversity and unity work well together.

Waitangi Day celebrates that diversity and unity - that sense of kotahitanga that is possible if we demonstrate respect for each other. And it is respect founded on knowledge of the unique contributions we each make to the state of this nation.

It has not been an easy journey to get to this point. The realities of racism, inequalities, poverty, political expediency, and power imbalance have left their mark. We can’t un-know that reality, but we can appreciate the resilience of tangata whenua to endure.

Resilience, which is built on histories as voyagers in the Pacific who had the intellectual capacity to accumulate knowledge, to make adjustments to change, to develop essentials for survival.

Under vastly different climatic conditions, our tupuna learnt how to thrive in this land, how to guarantee protection and sustenance, and then how to record for future generations the whakapapa of their environment.

Last weekend I attended a hui where a young girl and her brother of Indian/Māori descent astounded us all with a waiata which traversed geographical and social histories in a technically complex performance that would excel any NCEA standard. The knowledge of nga taonga tuku iho demonstrates a vast capacity for sharing experience through waiata, whaikorero, moteatea, karakia.

The entrepreneurial legacy of our matua tupuna came to the fore recently at the International Entrepreneurship Research exchange.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor released last week revealed that Maori are the world's third most entrepreneurial people. In fact an incredible one in three Maori aged 35-44 years are business entrepreneurs. Just as they were in the 1860s before the Land Wars.

A particularly interesting result was that eighteen per cent of Maori entrepreneurs claim to be using the very latest technology, compared to ten per cent of the general population. Just imagine the impact we could make if all homes had access to computers, let alone the world of the web.

The birth of Māori TV; the resounding popularity of iwi radio; the impact of our Maori artists in film and design provide an abundance of examples of the creativity of today’s voyagers.

Success such as Two Cars, One Night, an eleven-minute, black and white wonder which earned director Taika Waititi an Oscar nomination and Best Short Film award in Berlin, Aspen, Melbourne and Hamburg.

We should not be surprised at these results. One only has to consider the multi-tasking, managerial skills required on the marae to see this expertise in abundance. The Time Use Survey reported that Māori were more likely to do unpaid work for people and organisations outside their own household than non-Māori. And this huge investment of unpaid time and skill is given without question.

Of course it’s one thing to be talented, to be successful, to be world-class - and it’s quite another to be able to capitalise on it.

Only 37% of Maori entrepreneurial start-ups survive three and a half years, compared to 62% of the general population. Why is it that these world-class entrepreneurs lack the sustainable support to get out there and make a mark on the world?

We must be bold as a nation, and invest in our future.

Sitting in the wings is a huge pool of talent. This House should be aware of the impact of a non-profit group of young leaders calling themselves the Advancement of Maori Opportunity or AMO.

Part of the Advancement of Maori Opportunity programme includes export opportunities for Maori exporters and businesses through indigenous networks.

They promote leadership through their Maori Ambassadors Programme which has seen young Maori policy advisors, tax consultants, environmental analysts, solicitors, parents, even an obstetric registrar share their skills with other nations.

There has never been a better time to be reaching across the globe for those international connections.

The Maori Party celebrated the triumph of Aymara Indian, Evo Morales, who was elected as Bolivia’s first indigenous President. We admired the remarkable rise in political influence of indigenous peoples throughout Latin America. The voiceless of Bolivia have been given a voice.

We have celebrated the victory of a man of the people, Oscar Manutahi Temaru, elected President of the French Polynesian Islands of Tahiti and Moorea.

In Aotearoa too, we too saw in our recent elections the momentum of the indigenous voice, with a turnout of electors on the Maori roll rise up to 67% - ten points higher than the 2002 elections.

These elections were a watershed for Maori - 70% of Maori voters surveyed in a study by the Chief Electoral Office followed the results on election night, 97% following the results on television.

And we know that the same hunger for political influence is a driving force for Maori as we prepare for the Maori electoral option kicking off on 3 April.

Tangata whenua are demanding an independent voice - a voice for transformation, a voice which is kaupapa based, a compelling voice.

It is a voice which has been nurtured over some twenty-five years through the resilience and passion of more than 60,000 kohanga reo graduates. Ko te tamaiti te rangatira mo apöpö - our children are the leaders of tomorrow.

Madam Speaker, today I honour those kaumatua, those koroua and kuia who nourished a Maori movement of change; who fought to keep our language alive; who believed in the kaupapa; who lead the way in turning around an education system to ensure our mokopuna thrive in the language and tikanga of their ancestors.

The voice of transformation under kura kaupapa, wharekura and wananga, has assumed the validity and legitimacy of Maori language and culture. It is a voice which articulates our aspirations as central to our cultural wellbeing.

Madam Speaker, we are planning for our future - a future of enormous growth and prosperity of our cultural assets. Like our voyaging tupuna, our sights are set on the horizons. Our past is our present is our future.

In my electorate, the Raukawa Marae Trustees began a 25-year tribal development strategy in 1975, known as Whakatupuranga Rua Mano - Generation 2000. The strategy enforced that

- Maori language is a taonga;
- people are our greatest resource;
- the marae is the principal home of the iwi; and

- the principle of rangatiratanga.

It has been so significant in their development that they are now planning the next 1000 years. That’s long term vision.

Ngai Tahu also have a 1000 goal vision. Their plan, Kotahi Mano Kaika, Kotahi Mano Wawata, articulates a thousand aspirations to have 1000 Ngai Tahu homes speaking te reo Maori by 2025.

It is about vision, it’s about commitment, it’s about belief. It is about people power - much of these visions having come from whanau who dared to dream. Some have been supported by Government resource; many have not. The Maori Party will continue to ask why not - when so many of these ideas are of such benefit to the nation - we must invest in potential.

We know that if you give us the opportunities, we can succeed.

We see whanau taking small steps to improve health and well-being. Or hapu looking at wind turbines or solar panels to create an environmentally friendly marae environment. Whether it’s the cricket pitch, the golfing green, the rugby field, the league grounds, the squash court, the netball court or surfing Tangaroa’s waves - we’re going for gold!

We are proud that our nation is slowly but surely developing a deeper respect for the distinctive identities of all our cultural histories and practices - of all the peoples of Aotearoa.

This is what it means to walk together, on our pathway forward. We are the designers of our own destiny. Tangata whenua throughout Aotearoa are flourishing in their expression of an authentic voice.

Just as Robert Hewitt believed he would be safe, our vision is to ensure we stand up for the things we believe in with confidence and clarity.

In doing so we seek to grow the mana of Maori; promote the diversity of Aotearoa; and support the restoration of strength, of trust and confidence in all people who call this land home.

ENDS

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