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Hone Harawira: Going smokefree

15 August 2006

Hone Harawira: Going smokefree

It all goes in circles...last week I wrote about my spending a bit of time with my Anglican and Ratana whanaunga. Well, the Pope must have heard about it, 'cause last Saturday I found myself hangin' out with the Catholics down in Christchurch of all places.

I was there to present Te Rangimarie, a Catholic church/marae with an award for being the first smoke-free marae in the whole of the South Island.

Christchurch being the Maoripolitan place that it is, the speakers who welcomed us were from Tuhoe and Ngapuhi, and the one who came on with me was from Tainui. But the folks were all nice, the place was warm, the kaupapa was cool, and I'm glad I went.

One of their kaumatua, Mita Te Hae, is heavily involved with the smokefree work and that's great, because I notice that when kaumatua and kuia speak, a lot of younger people listen.

Te Rangimarie is like Te Unga Waka down in Auckland, and I can remember that place pumpin' back in the 70's (gee ... how old am I then) with ping-pong tournaments, dances, kapa haka, talent quests, bands and all kinds of other hui as well as church. Pa Tate was the director of activities and things used to rock out there so much, I didn't even notice it was Catholic.

Te Rangimarie also has a reputation for a number of other things - first Catholic Maori Mission in Te Wai Pounamu, first Kohanga Reo in Te Wai Pounamu, and the launching of Te Kura Whakapumau - so it was no surprise that with all that history, Te Rangimarie was the first smokefree marae down South.

Te Rangimarie also has a strong Taitokerau connection as well. Back in the day when Maori trade training programmes were turning out highly skilled, highly employable young Maori tradesmen, many sons of the north ended up doing their time in Christchurch. To no great surprise, many of them ended up hangin' out at Te Rangimarie as well, a home away from home, and no doubt the launching pad for many an illicit foray into the nights of that great southern land.

The other connection of course, is that we've also got a couple of smokefree marae of our own here in the Far North - Roma Marae out in Ahipara and Waiora Marae up in Ngataki.

I know there's a few others considering it, but just to correct the chairman of Te Runanga o Ngapuhi who reckons "nearly all of our marae in Ngapuhi are smokefree," in fact, there are less than 20 of 204 in Tai Tokerau that have done it.

So we've got a ways to go yet. But let's not despair. Rome wasn't built in a day, we ain't going to get tino rangatiratanga overnight, and making all of our marae smokefree is definitely "a work in progress."

But dear lord - that's enough of the church for this year - please!

Catch you all next week.

ENDS


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