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Tariana Turia - Speech to Principals' Conference

Te Akatea Maori Principals’ Conference;

Convention Centre; Palmerston North; 11am

Saturday 26 August, 2006

Te Pikikötuku: Accelerated leadership

Tariana Turia; Co-leader, Maori Party

Two days ago, the National Association of Maori tertiary students, Te Huinga Tauira, congregated in the grounds of Parliament.

Reports of the fresh face of student activism, made me think back to another student-based movement, that met on the steps of Parliament, over three decades ago.

At that time, the black power movement was thriving, liberation leaders such as Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko were busy building dreams, and enacting them. The spirit of liberation was ignited in Aotearoa, in the form of Nga Tamatoa, an Auckland-based student group which helped to put Te Tiriti o Waitangi on the political agenda.

They were stroppy Maori students in those days, former President of the Auckland Maori Students Union, Syd Jackson; and his mates - Donna Awatere-Huata, Eruera Nia, Hana Te Hemara, Atareta Poananga, Tame Iti, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and many others. In fact a veritable Who’s Who of our contemporary Maori leaders.

In 1972, Hana Te Hemara Jackson on behalf of the Nga Tamatoa council and 30,000 others, came to Parliament’s very steps, calling on Matiu Rata to put a stop to the psychological and cultural annihilation of a people.

Her solution was simple; the revival and restoration of te reo rangatira as a starting point of our revolution.

Bob Marley perhaps captured the mood of that time:

Revelation reveals the truth - revelation.

It takes a revolution to make a solution.

The revolution of that time - the revival of te reo rangatira - indeed resulted in a solution of gigantic significance. Two years after that petition was received, in 1974, the Maori Affairs Amendment Act recognised Maori as an official language, and the rest is history. Our history. The history that Te Akatea celebrates and lives everyday in the promotion and sustenance of te reo at mainstream schools and kura kaupapa Maori throughout the motu.

There was another Marley number, that I thought about in driving here this morning - his Redemption song.

Emancipate yourself from Mental slavery,

none but ourselves can free our minds

There has never been a better time to free our minds, to emancipate ourselves for the revolution.

Let me take you through the last few years, lest you forget.

• The Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

• The Hikoi.

• The Orewa Speech.

• The Deletion of the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Bill.

• The draft Declaration on the rights of Indigenous People - which New Zealand, Australia, United States and Australia lobbied against;

• The visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur

• Budget 2006 - and the savage cutting of seven programmes aimed at whanau, hapu and iwi opportunities for greater self-determination from the Maori Affairs budget

• No new money for Maori initiatives in this year’s budget

• Not one mention of even the word, Maori, in the previous budget

• The deletion of the Treaty of Waitangi as one of the nine principles of the New Zealand Curriculum;

• The removal of Maori arts from the statement on arts in the national curriculum

• The omission of the Treaty from the Language and Languages Section [where te reo was previously referred to as a taonga under the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi].

The list goes on and on.

Now we’ve had a few people say to us, that it’s not really such a big deal that these references have been taken out, as basically they were just symbolic anyway.

But that’s exactly the point - if we don’t have reference to the Treaty and its principles as the key symbolism of our nationhood, then what is it that we can say makes Aotearoa distinctive?

Symbolic references to the Treaty help to create the statements of national aspiration. They set in place the markers of leadership that we look for as we all do our bit, to move the nation forward.

It seems absolutely timely to be able to raise these issues today, within the context of your conference theme - Te Pikikötuku - Accelerated leadership.

What was the accelerated leadership that Hana Te Hemara Jackson, that Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru, that Dr Pat Hohepa drew on in the pathway which led to the 1987 Maori Language Act?

What is the accelerated leadership that is called on to inspire and motivate you, as Maori principals and senior managers of our learning institutions?

What is the accelerated leadership required to confront the current obliteration of Te Tiriti o Waitangi; the crushing assimilation of the ‘one-size fits all’ approach to policy?

What is the accelerated leadership you are nurturing in your kura?

Much as I hate to be controversial, I have to challenge the thinking behind the notion of ‘accelerated’ leadership. I wonder, is leadership a quality that we can speed up?

Let’s look at the leadership we so often call on in our whanau.

Are those who manage the kitchen the ones that have graduated with a domestic science qualification in the last few years?

Do our kaikaranga have to undertake an intensive crash course at the academy of performing arts before being selected for the role?

Are our kaikorero required to demonstrate the results from their latest Royal College of London speech examinations before assuming their place on the pae?

I am not saying that qualifications or training or expertise is not essential - it is absolutely connected to leadership. But leadership is also much, much more.

It is about trusting in an inquiring mind - valuing the risk-taker, respecting those who display the courage to be creative. Those who are really prepared to ‘emancipate themselves from mental slavery’, to open up and free their minds.

Leadership is nurtured over time, over generations. One of the most touching moments for me over the last week was looking at the picture of Te Arikinui Tuheitia, his hand resting on the casket while over his shoulder his young son, Whatumoana, looked on. A whakapapa that has been destined to carry the load of leadership.

Leadership emerges from the investment of the people in taking the time to provide opportunities to learn.

I think back to my aunties and my grandmother, and the lessons they provided for me, to learn about my responsibilities and obligations. Whenever I am faced with challenges I think about those tupuna watching over me, and it helps to guide me in responding in the ways in which I trust they would have.

So I have to ask - how do you ‘pressure-cooker’ those experiences, to shape the leadership we require?

How do you speed up the capacity to walk the talk, do the mahi, that helps to carve out the best path ahead?

Leadership, in my experience, also requires great sacrifices, personal, whanau, collective sacrifice in order to achieve the goal. What are the contributions that we make as nga ringa raupä, the blistered hands of hard work? What is the nature of our apprenticeship that has smoothed the trail forward?

And once on that trail, how do you maintain the momentum to create a future to be proud of? What are the issues that will light the fire in your soul? What will it take, for you to make a stand?

The Maori Party started as the result of an independent stand, which demonstrated that just because we are the only ones who think the way we think, does not mean to say we are wrong.

That stand was taken, and history has proven, that the Maori Party can take an independent stand on every issue that appears.

In education, some of the issues that we have spoken out about and challenged the Government include:

• Asking for a reason as to why the proportion of our Maori students who leave school with qualifications higher than level one, is thirty percentage points behind other students?

• Challenging the thinking behind a disproportionate number of Maori students being stood down or suspended. In 2004, while 21% of the school population were Maori; they accounted for 41% of all stand-downs (8383) and 47% of all suspensions (2244);

• Asking how could their Maori MPs sit by, during the passage of the Education Amendment Bill and clause by clause, vote against amendments put up by the Maori Party to:

- protect the special character of kura kaupapa Maori;

- protect the diversity of early childhood centres like kohanga reo;

- offer land back to Maori owners - land that Maori owners had gifted to the Crown last century for education purposes.

- And as recently as Thursday, asking a question in the House, to report any progress in implementing the School Staffing Review Group recommendation that there should be a teacher-pupil ratio of no greater than 1:15 in kura kaupapa Māori and in total Māori immersion and bilingual classes.

The Maori Party is here as your voice piece - but we are but four people in a Chamber full of others. Four mighty MPs of course - but we are always conscious that we are but servants of the people. You still need to keep your voices and to sing your songs.

Our message today, is that we must all prepare to be strong tomorrow as well as today.

I have but touched on a few examples of the rumbling discontent, that causes me to wake up each morning, and ask, what can I do to make a difference?

Your hui over these last three days will have provided you with plenty more to rumble about - from how to accelerate leadership in Te Akatea, to how best to advance Maori development in your kura, all with the aim of achieving Maori success on Maori terms.

Leadership - teaching - politics - management - running the kitchen at our marae - is all about being driven by a force greater than oneself. It is about believing in the power of the people.

It is about respecting the revelations that come to you - and working together, to achieve the revolution that makes our solutions possible.

I want to end by quoting the late Dr Martin Luther King who said:

“Everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.

You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve.

You don’t have to know the second theory of thermo-dynamics in physics to serve”

and I will add;

you do not need to know “pinepine te kura”, to serve, you don’t need to know “popo” to serve

and to return to Dr King

“You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love”.

Tena tatou.


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