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Turia: Accreditation of Whaioro Trust

Accreditation of Whaioro Trust, Maori Mental Health Services 4 August 2006; Palmerston North; 3pm

Tariana Turia, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru

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E nga mana, e nga reo, Ngati Rangitane, Ngati Raukawa, Muaupoko, tena koutou katoa. E nga iwi e huihui nei ki te whakanui i te kaupapa o te ra, tena koutou katoa.

I am pleased to be here with representatives of local iwi and iwi providers, the MidCentral District Health Board, and of course the central focus of today, our tangata whaiora.

I want to mihi to the Chairman of Whaioro Trust, Hare Arapere, to the trustees of the Board, and to all the whanau who have worked so hard in your mahi.

There is a kiwaha, Nä te waewae i kimi - by the feet it was sought. This saying reminds us that by searching diligently, by working hard, the desired goal will be yours.

Today we can all truly celebrate tou waewae - your endeavours to pursue continuous quality improvement.

The celebration today of your accreditation with Quality Health New Zealand recognises the commitment you have all given, to putting systems in place, towards supporting tangata whaiora.

Wayne Kiriona has shared with us the history of Whaioro Trust, your dedication as a Maori mental health service, to supporting employment and other opportunities for all who access your trust.

I know that just recently, MidCentral announced you had undergone an audit and passed that with flying colours - and I want to recognise that today as well.

As I came here today, I have been thinking a lot about concepts such as accreditation, audit, accountability - and how that relates to the ways we see ourselves as tangata whenua.

What are the expectations we set of each other - and how do we communicate those expectations?

My husband, George, is always telling me that I'm like an open book -my expectations of people that I meet can be read by the expressions on my face - and consciously or not, it tips people off about how I am likely to react to them. It may be in the tilting of my head, the raising of eyebrows, or the intensity of my gaze....and people pick up on those cues.

Having an accreditation programme in place does the same - but on a much bigger scale. It sets in place a framework, a way of reading the world, to make sure your expectations of how people can deserve to be treated when they walk in these doors really does happen.

Some of you may have heard of a classic experiment that took place some forty or so years ago at Harvard with a group of school children from 18 classrooms. The experiment randomly involved 20% of the children who were randomly selected from each room and presented to their teachers as "intellectual bloomers." The researchers explained that these children could be expected to show remarkable gains during the year. At the end of the year, the so-called 'intellectual bloomers', showed an average of IQ gains of two points in verbal ability, seven points in reasoning and four points in over all IQ. In essence, this is what we might now call 'strength-based practice'.

Tikanga leads us to actively look for the strengths in our whanau - promoting the talents and nurturing the qualities that have been manifest across the generations - setting in place expectations which will serve to create and nurture opportunities to enhance the natural abilities of our clients, our colleagues, our whanau.

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of listening to Te Ahukaramü Charles Royal at the Whakapumau Whanau national hui, hosted by Te Wananga o Raukawa. At that hui, we were working with one goal in sight - the restoration and revitalisation of strong, healthy, functional whanau.

Te Ahukaramü reminded us of the circumstances, the conditions that give power to our creative potential. He shared with us the challenge of renewing ourselves from within, by drawing on matauranga Maori, our cultural concepts and traditions, to build resilience, to harness energy, and to do all that we can to achieve our unique potential.

Coming to this celebration today of another milestone for Whaioro Trust in reaching your potential, it restores to me the faith that if we create expectations for success, anything is possible. We must not be judgemental of whanau or individuals who are not achieving their potential; there is always the potential to make a change for the better, to reclaim, assert and practice the models and knowledge that awaken our full potential. I hope that the framework endorsed by Quality Health New Zealand encourages that expectation of success, by realising the opportunities that come with every whanau who accesses this service, to fully utilise their creative potential.

You may have heard in the news, some of the comments we have been making about another framework, the draft curriculum framework launched by the Government for schools this week. It has been a singularly depressing experience to go through the draft, a draft which has been promoted as 'slim-line' and 'refined', and see all of the expectations that have been removed from that draft. The single most dramatic deletion has been the removal of the Treaty - the document which provides the very foundation for our future as a nation - throughout all the curriculum areas.

But there are other more subtle changes which indicate the changes the Government expects of our teachers. The removal of Maori arts from the arts curriculum; the removal of values such as 'non-racism' or tolerance (rangimarie), caring, compassion (aroha). And it has been replaced with a bizarre new statement that "Students who identify as Maori" will have the opportunity to experience a curriculum that reflects te Ao Maori. Education is all about setting expectations, creating the optimal conditions for success. We know that the great majority, some 91.6% of all Maori students, are in mainstream primary and secondary schools.

In real numbers, that's 148, 800 students as of 1 July 2005. The rest of our kids, some 13, 732 tamariki who are in kura, or bilingual or immersion units, we hope, are experiencing every day celebrations of what it is to identify as Maori. But I do have some huge questions around the other 150,000 - and the opportunities they will enjoy to fully advance their aspirations as tangata whenua, if the framework that determines the way in which they are taught has removed them from its scope.

I know it's another sector - and that we're here today to celebrate your success in Maori mental health - but you can't divorce the wellbeing of our hinengaro from our tinana, our wairua, our whanau. Our ways of being are all about our collective identity, our collective mana, which takes into account the bigger picture. Like the flow of our rivers, the flow of our conversations will meander and curve across many different ages and stages. Our tupuna influence our today and our tomorrow, conversations held in our own minds may be as vital as those expressed in spoken talk.

Indeed, as we all know, words are often superfluous when other factors are operating. It's like the unspoken Maori handshake, the raising of the brows - communication can operate in many different realms. So when I think about our tamariki and the new test of having to identify as Maori, I think of all the conditions and histories and circumstances that communicate expectations. In our world, we greet each other with 'no hea koe', where are you from, rather than 'ko wai koe'.

Our identity is based on our waka, our maunga, our awa, our moana, our marae, our turangawaewae and ükaipö, the places we belong, where we count. Our identity is of our tupuna, our whakapapa. You know this. Your accreditation today attests to the respect you have accorded tangata whaiora, the value you demonstrate in ensuring mana whenua are here to endorse the work you do. Where I come from, we say, ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au.

I am the river, the river is me. We will be what we expect ourselves to be. Our wellbeing, our strengths, our energy comes from our whakapapa, our tupuna, and the paths they have aspired us towards. The Maori Party celebrates with you today, the pathway forward that Whaioro Trust is setting for all your whanau. May your sights continue to be set firmly on success, a success which ensures the unique and distinctive creative potential of all your community is set forth and destined to bloom.

ENDS

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