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Flavell: Rotorua Library Trust Fund Variation Bill

Rotorua Library Trust Fund Variation Bill

Second Reading; Wednesday 8 November 2006

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

There are times that I have looked forward to as an elected Member of Parliament, where progress is going to be achieved, and you know that the members of your constituency will directly benefit. This is one of those times.

It is also a time when indeed, my colleague, the MP for Rotorua, Steve Chadwick, and I – and perhaps some others who may choose to declare their status today – may be in the unique position of having a Special Privilege with respect to this Bill.

As I declared at the first reading, our family are card-holders, members of the Rotorua Library, a status which clearly places us at an advantage when talking to this Bill.

Now, if you go into the Philosophy section of the Rotorua Library, and look for the sections headed Political Analysis or Cultural Criticism you might come across Distinguished Professor bell hooks.

That’s bell and hooks in lower case.

The unconventional lower casing is, in the words of hooks, to symbolize and I quote:

“that what is most important in her works is the substance of books, not who I am”.

This from a person who has also said and I quote,

“Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books”.

So how did this girl from Kentucky, growing up poor, black and marginalized, turn out to be a leading Afro-American intellectual who has contributed greatly to library shelves around the world?

What were the life-transforming ideas that made that possible?

hooks would say, that the key lies in communication and literacy, the capacity to read, to write and to think critically.

It is about education as the practice of freedom.

And it is because of education for liberation that the Maori Party is pleased today, to support the local member, Stevie Chadwick, for Rotorua in her initiative in this Bill.

We are delighted that the Select Committee has supported this Bill, without amendment, and we look forward to the smooth passage of the legislation to enable the Council to get on with the job.

Mr Speaker, the job I am talking about is that of accessing the capital of the Endowment Fund bequeathed by Elizabeth Ann Seddon-Johnson to extend the Rotorua Public Library.

The substance of books is where things are at.

What this Bill will do, will ensure the substance of books is available across the Rotorua community. Having a larger facility – more space, and more resources, will all honour the intention of the bequest – and also serve as a fine legacy for future generations.

But as other speakers have said, this Bill has been a long time coming.

Elizabeth Ann Seddon-Johnson bequeathed the residue of her estate as per the terms of her will in 1931. Mr Tisch talked about the probate being granted on 1 September 1936.

So here we are, seventy years later, finally able to see her wishes come to pass, in supporting legislation to expand the library and support the building of a new wing.

Congratulations to the benefactor – and the Rotorua Public Library, in keeping the vision alive.

Although it has taken seventy years to get to this point, it should be noted that the interest from the capital investment of the endowment has been useful in library maintenance and upkeep, including purchase of books.

Finally, I want to make mention of advice received from Jane Gilbert of the Rotorua Public Library, and Richard Price, lawyer for the Rotorua District Council.

Both the librarian and the lawyer, spoke of the considerable benefits that would flow through to the whole community in Rotorua, through passing of this Bill.

And they made special mention of the fact that the amendment will enable an expansion of the Rotorua history section including Te Arawa.

And so, I return again to bell hooks and her statement,

“Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books”.

And the question will be, what will the life-transforming ideas be in the books of Te Arawa from this last year of political history?

Will they include discussion of the confiscation by stealth through this new invention of the Crown Stratum?

Will the library shelves include any volumes which reveal Government commitment to the Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme; or will there just be an empty space?

Will our histories reveal the damage done to the Te Arawa lakes, which had been in a pristine state when leased to the Crown in 1922?

Mr Speaker, in 1922, in an honourable gesture, our elders signed an agreement between Te Arawa and the Crown. It was thought that the benefits would flow to Te Arawa following that agreement.

My hope is that this honourable gesture by Elizabeth Ann Seddon-Johnson does not suffer the same fate as the agreement for Te Arawa some ten years earlier.

The Maori Party will support this Bill, as we support any attempts to encourage life-tranforming ideas.

We will be looking to the Rotorua District Council, and the Rotorua Public Library, to do its best to honour the original intentions of the benefactor, to invest in the business of ideas, and to do this, truly, for the benefit of all our community.

Kia ora tatou.


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