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Flavell: World Indigenous People's Day

World Indigenous People's Day, an Opportunity to Revitalise Our Time-Honoured Practices says Waiariki MP, Te Ururoa Flavell

Wednesday 9 August 2006

MP for Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell, is celebrating International Day of the World's Indigenous People (observed on 9 August every year) by a call to revitalise the unique cultural identity and practices of tangata whenua, as part of our every day life. "Part of our cultural traditions included the importance of communicating effectively", says Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell, who is also the Maori Party spokesperson on Treaty Settlements.

"I know the sadness that some of our elders have expressed when conflict arises, and whanau appear to have lost the ability to talk together".

Mr Flavell commented that the initialling ceremony held at Parliament last night (Tuesday 8 August), to finalise the Te Arawa Deed of Settlement demonstrated the conflict that has almost become an established convention within hui, as the people become divided over the Crown's offers.

"The dis-agreements between various Te Arawa tribal groups over the settlement of historic Treaty of Waitangi claims are a recent example of communication break-downs" he said.

Mr Flavell believes some hapu and smaller iwi will 'miss out' unless all groups sit down and talk to each other, fully, frankly and without fear.

"Exclusion of one part of a larger group from full participation in decisions leaves lasting hurt which is carried on to the next generation," he said. "Traditionally Maori would 'wananga' or sit and talk for as long as it took until a common agreement was reached. There may have been fifty different views but we would respect those views and would continue to talk until we could come up with some consensus around common themes," he said.

The Maori Party MP believes the traditional Maori proverb, 'Te kai a te rangatira - he korero' which translates to mean 'The food of chiefs is communication/ discussion', is still relevant to Maori today.

"Having full information, encouraging debate and respecting a diversity of different views is important for ensuring that we are making powerful decisions that will stand the test of time," he said. "Taking time to talk rather than rushing into decisions is important for our growth and development as a people."

Mr Flavell has called three summit hui since March for Te Arawa and other iwi in the lead up to the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill and land claims.

The hui were to discuss suspending all treaty settlements until internal disagreements within the tribe are resolved and until there has been a full review of the Office of Treaty Settlements.

Mr Flavell said the hui were excellent opportunities for groups to discuss their issues and differences and to explore solutions. However he is disappointed that major players in these settlements chose not to attend.

"This World Indigenous People's Day, I would love us all to recall the significance of te reo and tikanga (Maori language and customs) in providing us with a really solid foundation for moving forward".

"In the pepeha or tribal saying, 'Te Arawa Mangai Nui', the oratory skills of Te Arawa are acknowledged, yet more and more speech-making or whaikorero has lost its depth," he said.

"Whaikorero was once an expert skill of our people."

Te Ururoa Flavell said that the foundation of te reo and tikanga act as a vital guide for the behaviour of Maori Party MPs in Parliament.

"When any of us stand to speak, we not only greet the speaker, we also greet the members in the House. We are also determined that in our korero, we refrain from belittling other individuals, or engaging in personal attack".

"We welcome the recent moves to introduce a code of ethics into the House to assist politicians, in talking to the issue not the person" said Mr Flavell. "Indeed, we believe our kaupapa (philosophy) could be really useful in this discussion".

Mr Flavell concluded, with some thoughts on the nature of whaikorero - the significance of creating opportunities to communicate.

"The very nature of the 'whaikorero' is to whai i te korero, we must always follow the talk and build upon what we have learnt from the korero of the wise ones of yesteryear" ended Mr Flavell.


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