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Harawira: Presentation of the Auahi Kore award

Presentation of the Auahi Kore award to the people of Te Rangimarie

Hone Harawira, Maori Party Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau Te Rangimarie, Christchurch; Saturday 12 August 2006; 10am

[Check against delivery]

Folks - it's a real buzz coming here this morning, because normally when I go onto a marae, it's the haze of cigarette smoke that I see, rather than the smoke of the kitchen fires. Last year when we were on the campaign trail, we went to quite a few marae, including one up home in Whangarei.

I recall seeing some of our womenfolk outside smoking, and saying to them "come on ladies - how can you expect me to respect your korero about the whare tangata when you're doing your best to choke it to death ..."

And you know what? They didn't beat me up. They thanked me for always pushing the kaupapa, for always reminding them, and for never giving up.

And from what I've heard about your kuia, Terehia Kipa, she'd have been right there beside me - telling those woman that te whare tangata is absolutely connected to the kaupapa of whanau ora. You can't have one without the other.

I've been told that once upon a time people of all ages, young and old, men and women roamed this marae smoking freely. No different from home, except I'm glad to say that today, I don't have to repeat the words I used in Whangarei. You here at Te Rangimarie, are role models for marae and other centres all round Aotearoa. Making this place smokefree is a big step in signaling your commitment to a healthy direction for our people, and I congratulate you for that.

But from what I hear of your history, I ain't surprised.

I hear that Te Rangimarie has been the first in many things - first Catholic Maori Mission in Te Wai Pounamu; first Kohanga Reo in Te Wai Pounamu; in fact I hear that Te Kura Whakapumau began its life here as well - and I congratulate you for that.

And I know too, of your history as a gathering place for the many fresh-faced sons of Ngapuhi and the many tribes of Te Ika a Maui, during the times of trade training, and I thank you for your support, your love, and your perseverance in putting up with my whanaunga at a time and in a place when they had little else.

So, it is only right, that with all that history, Te Rangimarie is again the one to step forward to help lead the Auahi Kore Campaign.

As a Maori with a long reputation for being anti-tobacco, people think all my marae up north are smokefree too. Not even. I talk about it wherever I go, I'm on the backs of our marae committees, I have big arguments about it, and I raise it whenever I see our people smoking, and let me tell you - it don't make you popular ...

But as Clark Gable once said, "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Tobacco is killing our people, and I will use every weapon I can, to defeat this beast.

You won't be surprised to know that like most Maori boys I used to smoke too. Started back when I was 10, and I could buy a packet of Capstan 10 for 1/3d. Cheap, no filter, nicotine packed, rubbish cigarettes, and I kept on smoking for the next 25 years.

I tried heaps of times to give up, but I always went back, until about fifteen years ago when I stopped for good.

Lung cancer killed my uncle Maori Marsden, who was a great mentor to a number of us back in the day.

I was so angry with him for dying, that I stopped the day he died.

And speaking of kaumatua, I am also proud to hear of the leadership being displayed by people like Ted Mita Te Hae, because kaumatua and kuia have the mana to go onto our marae, and say things about us being smokefree, that I simply wouldn't be able to get away with.

Seeing what you have done here Matua, gives me a role model to talk about, when I tell others what they can do to help our people improve their health.

I know our kaumatua and kuia don't want to make a fuss about cigarettes, 'cause they don't want to scare the younger generation away from the marae, and because a lot of the younger ones do great work behind the scenes.

But, I urge you to continue, because when kaumatua and kuia speak, other people listen.

And while it's great to have our young people helping at the marae, it's even greater watching them live to become kaumatua and kuia themselves, rather than die from smoking.

So I thank you Ted / Mita and all the elders here at Te Rangimarie for your commitment to this kaupapa, and I congratulate you all, for your efforts to date.

I also want to thank the unsung heroes in the Quit campaign; people like Elsa Mere-Tuck Christine Solomon Olivia Papuni and Darcy Vaaka over on the Coast, for their all-day, every-day mahi.

We all know the stats: smoking kills 30% of our people, Maori women have the highest rate of lung cancer in the world, blah, blah ... well now we also know too, that our Quit workers are doing their best to turn that around.

And I guess some of you Quit Workers down here are copping it about getting your numbers up, when you know that this is more than just about referrals.

So when I hear about you going into people's homes, working in communities, turning up at the marae, at tangi, and other hui, and spreading the AUAHI KORE message, I thank you for hangin' in there, and helping to lead the charge.

I understand that today's milestone is a huge achievement not only for the people of the marae, but also for Hauora Matauraka and the Aukati Kaipaipa crew who have been operating since 1998.

I know too that you got a lot of work ahead of you, to get the other marae down here to go smokefree as well, because all the excuses, and the arguments, and the hurdles that our people will put up against you, I've heard them all before too.

So when they say it's their right to smoke, you remind them that it's your right to care for them, to care for their children, and to care for our future as well.

Some of you will know that on World Smokefree Day this year I launched a campaign called TOA 2010 - Tobacco Out of Aotearoa by 10 December 2010. We're fighting this battle on many fronts: Petition ; Referendum ; Commission ; Legal Action ; Legislation

and we're working with as many groups as we can, to cover all the angles, to build the support, and to win this campaign. Our campaign isn't against smokers, because I know how hard it is to stop, and I know that attacking smokers won't win this war.

Our campaign is against the tobacco companies who kill our people.

We aim to make it illegal to manufacture and sell tobacco in Aotearoa by 2010.

Folks - there's been a lot of media coverage about this so-called warrior gene - which scientists say is strongly associated with aggressive behaviour.

If it's true, then let's turn it around and make it work for us.

Let's use this aggression to win this war against tobacco.

I met a guy in jail in the Philippines once, who said this to me

"Happy are those who dream dreams, and are prepared to pay the price to make those dreams come true."

Today we dream of a time when our children will not smoke cigarettes, and our homeland is smokefree, because we put the tobacco companies out of business.

Today you have taken the first step, to make that dream come true.

E te iwi - tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora tatou katoa.


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