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Sharples: 'Handle With Care' Launch

'Handle With Care' Launch - Get Organised Auckland

Dr Pita Sharples; Member for Tamaki Makaurau; Co-leader, Maori Party

Tuesday 15 August 2006

I was thinking how to relate to the concept of ‘Handle with Care’ - and the phrase that comes to mind, is manaakitia. Manaakitia - to care for - is to make every effort to remove opportunities for violence to occur.

That means we have to be aware of the full spectrum of violence in the first place - so that we don’t overlook the looks of fear;
- we don’t make assumptions that a lack of physical scarring means that violence hasn’t occurred;
- we don’t laugh off the language of hate and abuse as being a normal, accepted means of communicating.

Being aware is opening our eyes - and our minds - to understand that violence in this nation is fast reaching epidemic status, because of the magnitude and serious nature of it, for whanau, hapu and iwi, for Aotearoa as a nation, for all New Zealanders.

Manaakitia - to care for - requires us to ensure we debate, we educate, and we liberate our whanau, our communities.

Handling with care does not mean sweeping contentious issues under the carpet, better not to rock the boat, let bygones be bygones. That is not about caring, that is about denial, about pretending not that everything is right but about kidding ourselves nothing is wrong.

For the letters that have flooded into my office in the last month or so tell a completely different story.

They tell stories of pain, of paralysis, of the misery that ordinary New Zealanders have suffered at the mercy of their family members. They have told me that my story has unearthed their memories. It has forced them back into the recesses of their minds - parts of their life they had packaged up and hidden up, marked, ‘Fragile; don’t touch’.

But I believe we must open up all those memories, if we are ever to heal and restore ourselves to the state of prosperity we all deserve.

The scope of violence that has gripped our nation today has taken several generations to learn.

So there will not be a quick fix, or one right way.

But we can all make the change necessary to ensure our future is different.

Manaakitia o koutou tamariki

Our children are the living face of our ancestors. They will be the ones who ensure the survival and the revival of our culture is on the right path. In caring for them, we are caring for our future.

And so, when I think of handling with care, I think also in utero, of the precious lives carried within - and how every environment - whether it be the debating chamber, the school room, the family kitchen, the womb - must be an environment which nurtures hope.

The Maori Party has expressed on many occasions, our sadness at the bitter personality politics that erupt in parliamentary debate. We believe that violence begets violence - we must all walk the talk if we are ever to achieve the transformation that will provide an alternative to violence.

I want to commend the amazing efforts of all of those practitioners who do the mahi, day in day out - the whanau, hapu and iwi practitioners of Project Mauriora;
- the Women’s Refuge volunteers;

- the Rape Crisis workers;

- Whakamanatangata Men Beyond Violence;

- the child crisis teams;
- those who run the telephone crisis hotlines;

- and a whole lot more - not the least being our amazing kuia and koroua, aunties and uncles, mums and dads and cousins and sisters and brothers.

Those who are in our homes, every day, walking the talk. This day today is as good a day as any, to say, manaakitia, kia ora ai, kia tika te haere whakamua. Let us all take the care to make sure we are heading on the right pathway to the future.


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