Peters' Speech To Maori Women's Welfare League
Address – Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader NZ First
Maori Women's Welfare League 54th National Conference
Sunday 1 October 2006 Turangawaewae Marae Ngaruwahia 9:00 am “A Time For Action”
Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.
New Zealand First has had a long and sympathetic relationship with the Maori Women's Welfare League that stretches back many years.
Yours is a most valuable contribution to our nation as a whole and to Maori in particular – one that often goes unseen and without fanfare.
It is a contribution based on humility, action and service to the task at hand.
Today, we need to consider two evils that threaten much of your great work. Both arise from recent events.
The first relates to further attempts by one political figure to undermine and denigrate what it means to be Maori.
In short, an insidious attempt to try and define Maori out of existence by allocating an egregiously defined blood quantum to ethnic belongings.
To describe this as evil is not an overreaction. There are many figures in history that have similarly used blood purity as a political argument only to lead their people into an abyss of violence and destruction.
We in New Zealand First have had to watch for some time as this recent political figure has pilfered our policies and then debased them in his ignorance.
Let us be clear.
When New Zealand First says that Maori don’t want special treatment, we do not mean that Maori should stop being Maori.
When the current leader of the National Party says he does not want special treatment for Maori, he means that Maori have no reason to want to be what they are – Maori.
We in New Zealand First celebrate Maori culture and language. We see it as a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of New Zealand society. It is a defining and proud feature of who we are as New Zealanders.
In contrast, Dr Brash aspires to put an end to all things Maori – and now he wants to promote his formulae to deal with this issue once and for all.
For the current National Party leader to inanely link being Maori to a quantum of blood highlights not only his profound ignorance of what underpins culture and language, but also reveals a venal intent to assimilate and destroy all that is good about Maori culture and heritage.
Apparently we would all be better off if we looked and thought like him.
You see he blatantly ignores the other side of the equation.
Every time Maori and non-Maori partners have children, this actually means that, in most cases, there are more not less Maori, as equally there are more not less New Zealanders. It is no coincidence that most of their children are brown.
This is a desperate and wilfully ignorant path down which he has gone a number of times before.
He hides behind the façade of a borrowed slogan: "one law for all".
But legally he wants Maori to be non-entities. Not enough “Maori blood” by the Brash prescription – no legal status as Maori.
This is the corruption at the heart of his façade. His version of "one law for all" is a world where there is no legal recognition that Maori exist.
Reducing Maori to a legally defined purest blood quantum is a sinister ploy. It is an attempt to separate Maori culture from New Zealander’s sense of identity.
It is a new extension into the social arena of the far right's economic "scorched earth" policies. Rip the foundations out and rebuild the edifice in their own selfish and arrogant image.
Many of you remember how they almost destroyed our economy and now they seek to wantonly destroy our social fabric.
The equation is simple in their mind: extinguish the legal status of Maori and then redefine the basis of New Zealand society.
Today we face the challenge of confronting and combating this dangerous agenda. But we cannot allow this to descend into a debate about so called Maori privilege.
The recent Brash ramblings must be challenged for what they are: a perverse and deliberate assault on the fundamental social underpinnings of our nation.
We are simply too intertwined as peoples to allow attempts to divide us based on race.
This agenda can be overcome.
We know this because at the personal level we New Zealanders, whatever our backgrounds, largely get along just fine.
You can't fight nature – and that is ultimately why those of us who stand up to this agenda will prevail over those who seek to extinguish the ties that bind us.
They promote division – we promote unity.
They would tear families apart along racial lines.
We promote harmony.
Given the demographic projections of our country, we must ask ourselves this most basic of questions: how much longer do we have to endure this “transient leadership”?
Ultimately it is an issue of integrity.
And it is worth making this point – this leader does not even have the support of his caucus on this matter. Simply put, this leader doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Now let us also briefly consider a second evil that is infesting our society – the scourge of violence.
Our television and media are bombarded with images of the most hideous forms of violence. Sadly we have become desensitised to them. They seldom shock us anymore.
We no longer see such violence through the lens of Hollywood films – it is now on our news each night.
Rather than a fictional story, "once were warriors" is now a mantra many young Maori feel they must live up to: gangs, violence, abuse – the whole 100 yards.
It is a truly disturbing evil that must be confronted and reversed.
We have a festering sore that needs healing, and, until the right medicine is applied by those who know what they are doing, simply having everybody pontificating about the obvious will do nothing.
This audience more than most understands that it is the 'doing', rather than the 'talking' which matters most. So a challenge lies ahead of all of us – to stem the violence and restore our sense of community.
Your organisation has a crucial role to play in this. You see there are some things that only a mature woman can say and do in fostering the healing process.
There are times when the confrontational attitudes and anger can only be softened and broken down by a kindly word and deed expressed by the genuine concern of our elders.
There is a particular mana that this organisation embodies that ensures that when you are involved the effort has credibility and is more likely to succeed.
Put bluntly, this country needs your help to stem the culture of anger and violence and replace it with self-discipline and a sense of purpose. You can help to restore hope in those for whom it is lost.
Yours is an organisation of action.
Your history is one of purpose and achievement built on hard work.
There is a wise saying: all that it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.
You are not people who do nothing.
Many years ago, as your Minister, I ensured that Government would recognise that by putting the League on an independent financial footing. It was a wise investment.
Fifteen years on it is a matter of regret that governments have not realised how much more we could have done, could still do, working together.
We congratulate you and encourage you to continue your efforts.
Because if we are to succeed in combating these twin evils, we will need your help.
Nga manaakitanga ote Runga Rawa kei runga ia koutou, tatou hoki Tena koutou Tena koutou Tena tatou katoa