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Harawira: Changing the Nature of Leadership

Changing the Nature of Leadership

Hone Harawira; Maori Business Seminar

Victoria University of Wellington

Thursday 4 May 2006; 10am

[Check against Delivery]


Walking the Talk

Back in 1814, even Samuel Marsden noticed it:

Ina te mahi, he rangatira: See what he does - a chief indeed.

The theme of the chief being seen by his work in promoting the interests of his people, is as true today as it was nearly two hundred years ago.

That is the challenge the Maori Party sets itself every day - to defend Maori rights, and to advance Maori interests, for the benefit of Aotearoa.

We look at every piece of legislation coming before the House to see how it affects Maori, because we know that if we improve the lot of Maori, we will also improve the whole of our society.

We look to our histories, our tikanga, and our kaupapa to guide us in our work.

We tour the country to share our korero and to hear what people have to say to us, and our people are loving it.

We do it because we know that our future is your future, and that if we ignore you, if we ignore our people, we will go the way of Labour’s Maori MPs.

We send out our speeches to every man and his non-microchipped dog, and we encourage the feedback, even when it ain’t too nice, because we learn from others and we learn from our mistakes.

And learning and sharing with others is as much a part of leadership as being at the front.

When I was on the Hikoi, I got told off for being late in Hamilton. I was late because I was thanking everyone for coming and I ended up way down the back. And when we got to Wellington, I stayed at Te Papa until the whole 40,000 had left, because I wanted to know that everyone else got away OK. Being at the front isn’t all there is about leadership.

We are Maori, we are tangata whenua.

We are tangata whenua - we are the first nation of Aotearoa. That is our strength. We are Maori, but we are as diverse as the forests of Tane. We draw on that diversity to give us strength.

Every issue is a Maori issue

When we first arrived at parliament, the question on everyone’s lips was - is there life after the Foreshore and Seabed? What else can you speak on?

Well ... everything actually. Body parts, micro-chipping dogs, glass recycling, criminal procedures, taxation, prostitution - every policy, every paper, every issue can be addressed through Maori eyes. Nobody else in the House is doing it, so we do.


The Treaty is the foundation of the nation

The Treaty is the country’s founding constitutional instrument. The Treaty is a part of the fabric of this country’s society. Horekau ho korero tu atu i tera.


Te Reo

Our parliament was the first in history to begin in Maori, and the Maori Party was the party that did it. There has been more Maori spoken in the last six months than there has been in the last six years.

We always mihi to the speaker and to the House whenever we rise to speak, and we have asked for simultaneous translation so that we can speak continuously in te reo rather than have our korero broken every few minutes for translation.

We’re into progress

We believe in genuine progress - measuring benefits against deficits.

Government brags about investing $150 million into Kaikohe. But when see what that investment was - it’s the prison at Ngawha. That’s not progress. You can count it in the GDP, but it certainly ain’t progress.

Giving money to Maori radio is progress, because it enhances society, it creates employment, it enriches communities, it gives voice to the reo, and it gives wings to our music.

We’re not into poverty

The trickle down effect has all but dried up. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger, and the poor are Maori. Almost 100,000 Maori children were denied benefits through the Working for Families package - and not a peep out of Labour’s Maori MPs.

Poverty is everyone’s problem, but a challenge that we have decided to take on.

Whanau are best able to determine their own solutions

I have defended myself on thirty-seven charges, and lost only once, because I knew that the person I could count on most, was me. It’s the same with whanau. We believe in enabling whanau to have a greater say over their future, rather than just be the recipients of poor decision-making by government.

Tikanga and kaupapa guide our behaviour

When the idiots in parliament start shouting and hurling abuse at one another, the Maori Party does not get involved. Speaking on marae, is a great lesson for speaking in the House.

When others speak, we are silent. When we stand to speak we do so with as much preparation as possible, and we speak clearly and strongly about the issues as we see them. And both parties notice.


We support justice that heals; not justice that hammers

Locking people up has proved to be such a miserable failure, that they’re now trying to send them home on the weekends ... while they build more prisons. But the problem isn’t prison. It’s the system that gives greater respect to property rights than it does to human rights.

Treating people well leads to a society that respects people and property. Changing the nature of our society from a materially driven one to a people-focused one will solve our judicial problems tomorrow.

Finally, we exist to defend Maori rights, and advance Maori interests, for the benefit of all who live in Aotearoa.


The Foreshore and Seabed Legislation was a defining moment for thousands of New Zealanders - a 21st century confiscation and a denial of access to justice.

The hatred heaped upon us during and after the hikoi left scars that will never be forgotten. But they also gave us a strength, and a movement that will never be forgotten either.

A movement of minds, a movement of Maori, a movement of leaders.


The Maori Party is providing leadership for Maori in the House

We are not an opposition party.

We believe in what we stand for - not what we oppose.

We do the business in the way which our people would expect.

And in this - we are all leaders.

E mea ana te korero

ko te kai a te Rangatira he korero - the food of chiefs is talk

Well folks - let’s not eat too much.

It’s time for action, and it’s time for leadership.


ENDS

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