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Te Ururoa Flavell: Speech

Federation of Maori Authorities: Economic Conference 2006

Grand Tiara Hotel, Rotorua: Economic Conference Opening Dinner

Friday 3 November 2006; Keynote Address; 8pm

Te Ururoa Flavell: Member of Parliament for Waiariki

There’s been something missing in the blood quantum korero that has been debated in the media recently.

It’s the revelation that Maori are genetically disposed towards functions such as tonight. It’s in our genes. We love a good party.

And we have just that tonight. A celebration to compete with even Mr Guy Fawkes. Twenty years of the Federation of Maori Authorities is worth honouring.

When I look at the agenda for this weekend –

• analysis of progress with the DOC estate or through Crown Forestry Rental Trust;

• the latest word on intellectual property; or

• progress with Waka Umanga;

it is clear to me that FOMA is a key player in maintaining the momentum of Maori profile, presence, and outcomes.

Over the last two decades and more, the Federation has led the charge in so many arenas of our social, economic and cultural progress.

My research tells me that it was your action, along with the Maori Council in 1988, that successfully challenged the Government’s intended sale of ninety state forests which resulted in the establishment of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust.

Earlier this year your leadership was instrumental alongside other forest owners, in challenging all political parties to endorse six policy principles to meet Kyoto commitments.

Your actions have extended to the global scene, setting up theMaori Exporters Council in partnership with Trade NZ; as well as spear-heading reforms for Maori business in taxation, land law reform, property rights entitlements and treaty rights.

Your submissions have provided a platform for growing Maori authority in areas such as water reform, RMA, rating review, and the deletion of Treaty principles.

So we of the Maori Party acknowledge here your efforts. Congratulations! Ka nui nga mihi ki a koutou.

CONGRATULATIONS

The time is right to honour your hard work and the Maori Party is delighted to be here to do just that.

It is a time when in some respects our assets are secure, our outlook optimistic; now is the time for the strategic planning to unfold in order to create a sustainable, prosperous future.

The Maori Party has also come of age, having reached our first year as a team in Parliament, without imploding in on ourselves as every analyst thought we would. We like to think that we are in fact exploding, with well thought out korero, sensible positions that fairly represent the views of our people;exploding with enthusiasm, with energy and anticipation.

TREATY RIGHTS

If you did not know, this weekend, as it happens, also marks the end of a week-long festival celebrating twenty years since the establishment of the iwi authority, Te Runanga O Te Rarawa. But while Te Rarawa were seeing in the dawn at the Ahipara end of Te Oneroa a Tohe (Ninety Mile Beach); another event was taking place in Hamilton, which perhaps casts some doubt on our celebrations.

A major national Treaty educators' conference marked twenty years of Treaty education undertaken since the launch of Project Waitangi. This event was less of a party, and more of a review of accounts as the balance sheet was totalled; adding up the raft of recent attempts to undermine the status of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Mitzi Nairn described a deliberate campaign to sideline the treaty, which included:

• visitors to Te Papa and the Treaty 2 U road-show being provided with only one version, the English text of the Treaty;

• the new draft curriculum document for schools removing the Treaty from its principles;

• the Treaty information unit of the SSC being closed down;

• the Government’s continued opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and the

• Government’s support for NZ First’s Bill to delete the Principles of the Treaty from legislation.

Now I’d hate to be remembered as the killjoy of your party, but the message is that we cannot afford to be complacent, while secretly, our achievements are eroded away.

TREATY SETTLEMENTS

And as the Member of Parliament for Waiariki, I myself remain angry over the invention of a new concept of confiscation which was introduced with the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill, the‘Crown Stratum’.

Out of the blue, while they thought no-one was watching, the Crown assumed ownership of the “space occupied by water and the space occupied by air above each Te Arawa lakebed”. An entirely new definition, which had not been determined in law, ever.

Now the jury is out on the implications for past settlements such as Ngai Tahu, Ngati Turangitukua – but we are absolutely clear that it creates a precedent for all future settlements.

OMNIBUS BILL

Then halfway through the year, while Labour thought the people were sleeping, an Omnibus Bill was introduced, entitled Maori Purposes. Hidden within its covers, were some major issues that FOMA and the Maori Party will need to work on together, to expose the detail to the scrutiny our people deserve.

Issues such as the Crown imposition of a Waitangi Tribunal final submission date for historical claims without the prior discussion and agreement with the Treaty partner.

Or there’s the amendments to theMaori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004; raising questions such as:

• What amount does the government estimate that the former 20% iwi allocation of aquaculture space will decrease by?

• What are the anticipated risks to iwi, including development projects and inter-iwi relationships, from this decrease?

Or there’s the issue as to why the '28N rights' regime has continued to operate after the passage of theMaori Fisheries Act 2004, given it is a system which has the capacity to remove shares from all iwi allocated quota shares.

Surely, continuing the regime seems contrary to the spirit of redress under which the iwi quota system was enacted?

But I digress, remember, I am not a killjoy.

The issue is, and we know all this – that for every step forward, we’re confronted with new blocks that beset us, that threaten tangata whenua, that constrain business capacity, that keep our capability under potential.

And that’s when we need to return to our traditions of innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The front-page of your website boldly promotes the Global Entrepreneurial Monitor, which tells us that when Maori are compared to 35 countries included in this study, we rank third in the world for total early-stage entrepreneurship.

Yeah, that’s us. The uri of the explorers and voyagers of a millennium ago who set the scene for a fearless spirit of innovation.

But the activity is constrained – only 37% of Maori entrepreneurs survive 42 months, compared to 62% in the general population.

So what are the factors that impede our growth?

Ernst and Young 2003 Entrepreneur of the year, Carin Taurima suggests that the Government still needs to address the lowering of taxes, more efficient access to licensing and permits, and the removal of red tape – all barriers which restrict opportunity.

And I want to suggest another factor.

TAKING THE RISK

As I trawled over the achievements of your organisation during the last two decades, I was struck with a 1996National Business Review article featuring a much younger Paul Morgan. Paul said in that article, and I quote:

“We have to educate our beneficiaries, our shareholders, to understand about risk. Because it’s so complicated, a lot are not making decisions,and the easy answer is not to do anything about it”.

I repeat – the easy answer is not to do anything about it.

I want to focus tonight on the four letter word that Paul was referring to. RISK.

One ofmy biggest risks was getting involved in politics for goodness sake!! I suppose that being involved with people like Eva Rickard, Ken Mair, our own Annette Sykes and Mr Hone Heke Harawira was always political, but Parliament is different. For a starter, we are now on the other side of the fence!!!

It is not something I ever aspired to but luckily our people believed in the risk of the Maori Party and there we are…”in the House”.

One could say that it is a risk every day in having to make decisions on how to vote on bills. It is not as if every vote will be popular!!! But let’s not go there for now.

I have also taken a few risks in my career.

As Principal at Tipene, St. Stephens School, one of my most memorable moments was flying the tino rangatiratanga Maori sovereignty flag in the school grounds to rekindle in the hearts and minds of those boys the whole belief of being Maori as important. To me, when the school was at a low ebb in its proud history, the boys of my old school had lost that belief, they had lost the plot about being Maori.

Similarly, when there were issues of institutional racism at Waitara High School, myself and Ken Mair established a team of two, called ourselves the Tino Rangatiratanga Education Authority, and released the results of our inquiry to the Human Rights Commission. It’s interesting how much more authoritative one can be when you put the word Authority in your title!

Taking a risk, doing things that have not been done before, flying a new flag, is not, however, something generally associated with our incorporations, our trust boards, our Maori authorities.

Indeed some analysts would say the history of our success owes much to the fact that during the 1987 stock market crash our incorporations incurred very little debt. Their financial position had been risk-averse, avoiding high borrowing relative to their assets.

But while our networks went merrily through the crash, there is always the concern that conservative approaches; steady as you go; does not naturally lend itself to a pathway of growth.

SMALLER SCALE

Let’s think about this on a small scale first.

If you can borrow money from the bank at 5% and re-invest it in another farm, expand your stock, buy in some additional equipment and then earn a rate of return at 8% - wouldn’t you be crazy not to?

If you are willing to invest - to create leverage – and make 3% on every dollar wouldn’t you be a fool not to do it?

And yet, why are we not willing to invest on a greater scale, at a level where we are likely to sustain our businesses, where our momentum can only multiply?

Our people must be better able to assess risk. To work out whether the urgent need is to borrow in order to have a solid basis from which to develop a high flyer marketing campaign. Or perhaps to investigate ways and means of strengthening the product in the market place, funding people to go on the road, upgrading the package.

What theGlobal Entrepreneurship study has told us about this concept of the ‘three year failure’ is that we have limited information about the analysis we need to do, in order to assess options, and make changes.

And I want, here, to refer to just one more group celebrating twenty years of achievement this year – the Maori Women’s Development Incorporation. The Maori Women’s Development Fund was established in 1986 by the Maori Women’s Welfare League and is now independent of Government and the League.

Their rationale for establishment was based on the fact that Maori women entering self-employment often had limited access to capital finance, and lacked the confidence, networks and technical skills to ensure success in business. They took on the philosophy that investing in the people, investing in ideas, will be the source of our greatest return.

In much the same way, there will probably be no better place to be next weekend, than Otaki, at Te Arahanga o Nga Iwi National Maori Business Expo. This national showcase expo features over 110 Maori businesses which have gone out there, done the business- not only encouraging increased participation in Maori economic development; but also promoting and supporting the growth of the national economy. Interesting too, that it is two young Maori women, Ngatokorua Miritana and Daphne Luke, who are leading the charge, in highlighting our entrepreneurial success.

You may not be aware, that across the other side of the world, Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen bank have just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for very much the same goals – to break out of poverty by micro-credit – economic and social development from below.

Muhammad Yunus had a vision for the people of Bangladesh that the struggle against poverty could be won by investing in what others thought of as Mission Impossible – poor people without any financial security.

Yunus and the Grameen Bank have created a vision through micro credit, where even the poorest of the poor are invested in, to bring about their own development.

Now that is rangatiratanga in action, with or without the flag.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN?

So, what can we learn from the success of the Maori Women’s Development Fund; the Maori Business Expo, the Grameen Bank?

In Aotearoa, we are desperate for the support that comes with a venture capital fund – where investment is not about maximising the individual wealth of a private investor – but where it is about the collective strength and might of the people. Investing in the future; investing in nationhood; investing in our growth as peoples.

I wonder if now is the right time, to reinstate the concept of a Maori Development Corporation.

The Maori Party is extremely interested in the work Whaimutu Dewes in doing, in looking at whether $200 million in resources can be pulled out of the Maori Trust Office, the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, Poutama Trust and Te Puni Kokiri's business facilitation service.

According to the Press:

• Crown Forestry is sitting on $85 million in retained earning,

• the Maori Trustee has more than $54 million in his General Purposes Fund and $34 million in the Common Fund, which is held in trust for Maori owners; and

• The Poutama Trust has $29 million in equity.

So all up, that’s about $170 million in equity, assets or retained earnings that could be good for Maori Development work.

And who better to do the leg work required, than the Federation of Maori Authorities – with the substantial reserves you already possess through your membership?

You have already demonstrated the ability to manage financial and tangible resources. You must surely be a top choice for leading the drive to direct venture capital funding.

IN CONCLUSION

I want to end tonight, with just a note about the approach taken by us in the Maori Party, in establishing our foundation, our vision, for a nation which embraces the aspirations of all.

You will have seen in the papers about our so-called “funding crisis”.

It amused me that after a weekend of exhilaration and celebration, that the media reports of our AGM focused on the funds.

None of us will deny, that consolidating a financial basis for the party to continue to operate at our full potential is a major challenge for our future - and we’re always interested in new ideas about how to do this.

But our AGM, was rich with discussion around all the incredible achievements that have happened this year for a party that some dismissed as the last cab in the rank.

• From the very first moment of the 48th Parliament, te reo has been spoken in the House (the first words uttered were my friend Mr Harawira,Tena tatou e te whare!!).


• We have delivered 183 speeches in the House –on issues as varied as micro chipping; insolvency; sports anti-doping and telecommunications; reminding the nation that every issue is a Maori issue;


• We have demonstrated that our tikanga and our kaupapa not only guide us in our behaviour, but also our histories and traditions provide a source for learning to assist contemporary problems;


• Ten years to the day that we celebrated Tariana’s presence in Parliament, our first Bill, the Repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, was drawn from the ballot;


• Other Bills in the waiting includes Bills to

• address institutional racism;

• to entrench the Maori seats;

• to ensure land taken or acquired through the Public Works Act is restored to its rightful owners;

• to consider the occasion of the Matariki as a national holiday;

• to amend the Education Act to ensure that decisions made about kura kaupapa Maori necessarily involveTe Runanganui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori (after the Act which Labour pushed through this year, reduced their role, as well as forcing early childhood education providers to comply with a one size fits all model);

• we have returned to the people three times this year, including a campaign to enhance democratic participation through the Maori electoral option.

Our motivation as a Maori Party is clear and compelling – we are committed to the survival of Maori; which we uphold in defending Maori rights and advancing Maori aspirations in the best interests of the nation.

And we have shared our enthusiasm for a Genuine Progress Indicator; rather than a sole focus on GDP.

No-one would think that loss of language, the return of a polluted lake, settling a grievance through accepting another hapu’s or iwi’s land from the thief, emissions of green-house gases, and increasing numbers of New Zealanders in severe hardship, would represent the hallmarks of a successful nation.

Yet that is exactly what GDP does –if you like it measures the quantity of the fishing haul from deep sea trawling without ever stopping to count the cost of the destruction of the seabed.

The Maori Party knows that just because one does not count something, it does not mean that it does not count. We want to bring into our accountingframework, a set of indicators which measure our human, social, cultural assets alongside our production and manufactured wealth and that is what we mean by the Genuine Progress Indicator.

That is where a Maori Development Corporation, investing in ideas creation, valuing entrepreneurship, supporting innovation, can be the turning point in the development of this nation. It can ensure a broader perspective is brought to the table; that progress comes from making a difference, involving all peoples, working together.

Now whether it is in challenging the Government on its position on issues like settlements or Treaty clauses, providingthat Maori perspective to all legislation, supporting key Maori initiatives or offering new ideas for the nation to consider, at times it seems that our people are supportive of our stand but seldom willing to speak out especially when the status of tangata whenua is under challenge.

I ask in closing, that FOMA continue totake the risk of being beside us, the Maori Party, when we go about our work. It has been a worrying trend that some of our people hide when perhaps it is actually the time to speak out and challenge the situation we find ourselves in. It would be a tragedy if FOMA ever fell into that category.

The Maori Party is committed to the long term, and we are eager and ready, to work alongside you in making it happen. Let us take the risk together.

Ends


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