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Turia: Taiwanese in NZ Association

Taiwanese in NZ Association Tenth Annual General Meeting

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

Sunday 26 March; 4.30pm

It is my honour to acknowledge, Eugene Chiang, the President, and the members of the organisation we are here to celebrate.

We have a saying in Te Ao Maori:

Anei nga mea i whakataukitia ai e nga tupuna

Ko te kaha, ko te uaua, ko te pakari

It reminds us to treasure the things valued by our ancestors - the strength, the vigour and the sturdiness.

These are the gifts and legacies left by those who have gone before us which we honour here today - yours and ours. I congratulate the Taiwanese in New Zealand Association on your 10th birthday tonight and wish you continued good fortune.

It was a very great privilege to be able to travel to Taipei this last week to attend another tenth birthday of sorts. I was invited to participate in a seminar on the impact of the Anti-Secession law as part of the 10th year anniversary of the Taiwan Strait Crisis. Whilst there I also had the opportunity to visit Wulai indigenous village, to visit Atayal and to travel to the Taiwan borders.

In my first visit to Taiwan, I was struck by the similarities we shared with the indigenous peoples of your land.

As many here will be aware, there is considerable linguistic, cultural and archaeological evidence supporting a link between our ancestors, and the Austronesians, in around 3500BC.

Among the similarities that have been identified are our :

- oral traditions;

- our gods and our spiritual beliefs;

- our rituals and procedures for significant events such as the building of canoes;

- the practice of ta moko - of facial tattooing - and all that it represents;

- the custom of rahui-which I understand bears close similarity with the practices of conservation and prohibition you follow in Taiwan fishing grounds and ancestral lands;

- and our stories and ways of being.

I consider myself fortunate to have come from a long line of ancestors who have left me their wisdom to enable me to see, hear and read the world through the eyes of tangata whenua.

Their legacy encourages me to treasure diversity, to recognise that others see the world differently to the way I see it, and to be taught by that world, not to be threatened by difference.

We need to be able to celebrate our differences together. As tangata whenua and as members of the Maori Party, we support your commitment to continue to believe in your Gods. We celebrate this tenth birthday of your association as a way for you to continue to celebrate who you are, to continue to speak your language, to continue to feed the essence of your souls.

We must look for that which unites us, rather than what divides us.

I know from even my brief visit to Taiwan a little about the challenges that are faced in your homeland.

While there we witnessed a massive rally, a demonstration of over 180,000 people rallying to protect the principle of sovereignity.

It isn’t for me to say whether unification or separation is the desired way to go - only the people of Taiwan have that right.

The 23 million people of your homeland are, as President Chen Shui-ban stated, the “masters of the country, prompted by your love for your land and for freedom”. Your destiny must always remain, in your hands.

But I was very interested in the view of Peter Slipper from the Liberal Party in Australia, who suggested that such a significant issue with the potential to have enormous national impact, must be taken to a referendum.

No country should have their security threatened. Your people have already experienced the rule of others before, and there is no doubt that you value your right to democracy and independence.

As tangata whenua of this land, we absolutely respect the right to your self-determination, to your absolute authority.

We have much in common - and areas where we can work together to support global co-operation. As one topical example, the Avian flu epidemic, it is essential that the principle of universal participation means we are all at the table to discuss health benefits. I have approached the Minister of Health to promote the opportunity for Taiwan to be able to have observor status at WHO meetings, and was happy to receive a petition to this end in my brief visit there last weekend.

One of the themes I heard repeatedly last weekend was that Taiwan must be a part of the solution.

The Maori Party is born of the dreams and aspirations of tangata whenua to achieve self-determination for whänau, hapü and iwi within our own land; to speak with a strong, independent and united voice.

It is a call for self-determination, a call to detemine our own destiny. It is a call which I believe is treasured highly in Taiwan.

Together, all together, we can build unity whether in Aotearoa or Taiwan, to realise our aspirations to live in a nation which is strong, where our people are healthy and vibrant, and where our future is secure.

Na reira, tena tatou katoa.

Ma o Atua koutou e manaaki, e tiaki i tenei wa.


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