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Harawira: Easter Sunday Shop Trading Amendmt Bill

Easter Sunday Shop Trading Amendment Bill - first reading

Hone Harawira, Spokesperson for Employment

Wednesday 17 May 2006

In September 1959, Te Ao Hou included the following report of the Roman Catholic 'Hui Aranga' held at Ranana, along the Whanganui River.

“The weather was dreadful and the road almost inaccessible, yet there was an attendance of 900 and the programme, religious and social, was full and satisfying. Teams from Christchurch, Wellington, Otaki, Levin, Feilding, Hawera, Hastings, Kaiwhaiki and Ranana competed in action songs, Maori oratory, choir events, religious quiz, haka, poi, rugby, tennis, table tennis and basketball”.

Every Easter, all over the country, that same kind of report appears in different newspapers, as Maori return in their thousands to their home marae for a whole host of whanau activities.

Anglican, Catholic, Ratana, and the rest … they flock to their homelands to worship, to enjoy one another’s company, to catch up on the goss, to participate in sports, to feast and to be one with another.

Maori people plan their big occasions around Easter because they know it’s a four-day weekend - weddings, reunions, unveilings, cultural festivals - you name it, and Maori are doing it at Easter.

The mokos are different of course. They’ll play anything, perform anywhere, and go hard till they drop - as long as they get the hot-cross buns and the chocolate easter eggs. They’re a lot easier to please, but I know that they enjoy having their cousins around, and bludging off all their uncles and aunties, and greasing around their grandparents for little goodies as well.

And for all that to go off successfully means Maori are planning for months so they can enjoy some good quality time with one another, and still have time for the slow cruise home on Easter Monday.

And then, like Darth Vader swooping into shot, dominating the screen, and bumming out the good guys, along comes the Easter Sunday Shop Trading Amendment Bill.

And instead of cracking jokes, unwinding, and sharing time together, whanau will be faced with subtle but obvious pressures to work, and comments from the boss like:

“Sorry Mita - we’re opening tomorrow and you’re going to have to come in”.

“Hey Parekura - didn’t you go to that hui last year - we need you to work”.

“Look Nanaia - we all have places we’d like to go, but being committed to your career means you have to make sacrifices”.

“No Mahara, you don’t have to come in tomorrow - your job is safe” yeah right !!!

Whanau are at the core of everything the Maori Party stands for, and that philosophy guides our thinking on this Bill today.

And although this Bill is focused on two particular towns - Wanaka and Tauranga - we know that others will follow. Indeed, MP Stevie Chadwick wants to put Rotorua into the loop, and it won’t be long before the ripples are felt right throughout the land.

The contribution this Bill will make to GDP is well recognised, but the Maori Party would argue that there are factors other than just tourist dollars which need to be considered as part of this nation’s GPI - this nation’s genuine progress index.

What will be the effect on whanau of the increasing pressure to work when our workforce is already characterised by increasingly longer days, and less time to take the kids to sport, look after the whanau, and just have time to think?

Certainly revenue will be increased, but will society be enhanced by this Bill?

Will the rights of those who are expected to work on those days be properly protected?

Increased GDP is important, but no more so than these other factors.

Last week, the Household Labour Force Survey came out, and it highlighted some very sobering statistics. It showed that Maori are earning on average, four dollars an hour less than non-Maori.

Instead of increasing the workload, perhaps we should be looking to increase the pay rate. Working more hours for a pittance just to get by, doesn’t enhance society; it only embitters those we are treating so badly.

Mr Speaker, this House has the capacity to determine the times when we as a nation can honour whanau, and when we can preserve and respect the responsibilities and importance of family - rather than continuously erode the precious scraps of time we have left.

When Sitiveni Rabuka took over Fiji, he shut down Sundays to improve the spiritual balance of his people. When I came to Parliament, my wife told everyone that I’d be having Sundays off as well for the same reason - so that we could relax, enjoy the whanau, and recharge the batteries.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party will not stand in the way of this Bill going to select committee, but we raise again the need for this House to give due consideration to the importance of family as the heart of the nation, and the importance of protecting the little time they have to be with one another.


ENDS

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