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Speech: Vision of a violence-free future - Turia

Speech: A vision for a future which is violence-free - Tariana Turia

Montgomery House : Whakapotaetanga (Graduation)
Te Aroha Noa Violence Prevention Programme
‘Hui te Rangiora Marae’; 89 Clarence Street, Hamilton

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party
Friday 14 December 2007; 10am

This whakapotaetanga comes at the end of a week of the most disturbing and senseless violence around Aotearoa.

Last weekend, in the space of sixty minutes; Aotearoa lost:

  • a young man celebrating his 24th birthday in Cannons Creek, Porirua;
  • another twenty four year old man from Panmure;
  • and a third man lost his life when his Christchurch flat was set alight.

Stabbings. Homicide. Murder. Arson. Such was the fodder for the Sunday papers.

And then I heard of two rangatahi from Ratana Pa who were stabbed in Palmerston North.

These young people were attending a National Secondary Schools Touch tournament. Their whanau had to leave a tangi for their Aunty at the Pa to rush to intensive care at Palmerston North Hospital.

It is this senseless violence so close to home that tell me that I have no answers.

I have no answers for that horrendous hour last Sunday morning, but I have incredible confidence that it is programmes such as this, that will help us all to work out the solutions.

Te Aroha Noa Violence Prevention Programme is part of our pathway forward, a pathway that we desperately need.

I am so pleased to be with you today, to celebrate your successes, and to congratulate you all on the hard work you have put in to creating a vision for the future.

And I use that word vision, carefully.

I truly believe that what we visualise, we can realise.

Once we have a mental picture in sight of what we seek in our lives, we can then mobilise all the resources we need to make that picture real.

And it is all credit to the people of Montgomery House who have helped you to be the Colin McCahons or the Robyn Kahukiwas of your own making – to create your destiny.

I remember a quote I read once by Albert Einstein:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”.

That to me is what Te Aroha Noa does. It ‘fast forwards’ to the life you want to be living, the opportunity to look at a life in which your offending is but part of your past.

I have supported the work that Montgomery House does for many years, because I firmly believe in the principle that any opportunity to support people who have offended, to look at their offending and make changes for the better, is a critical investment in our future.

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to an interview about Montgomery House, following the fact that two of the men participating in the programme had left with only two weeks to go.

The comment was made that these two men had let the programme down. And I want to just share another point of view.

I believe those two men had let themselves down and more, they had let their families down, by denying themselves the opportunity for a positive chance.
What I will also say that these two thinking men made a conscious choice to leave, they had thought about and decided to make a particular decision and their decision was to leave.

To think otherwise is to perhaps say their leaving was an accident and your staying here is also accidental. No, that is not the case. They made a conscious choice to leave in the same way that you here today make conscious choices to stay. Their leaving was not by accident.

None of us should ever deny ourselves the ability to think about what we do and in doing so accept the responsibility for the decisions we eventually make. We must also think about, and evaluate the consequences of our decisions and how they might impact upon those around us.

We have had one of our whanau in prison – and so I know only too well the anguish and the anger for parents, for partners, for siblings, for children, for whanau.

A prison sentence takes a huge emotional toll on everyone in your life.

We know all the reasons that researchers and politicians reach for, in explaining why people end up offending.

But we also know, that dealing with one’s past, working through the factors that led to offending, is the best opportunity to advance.

Wisdom born of experience tells that restoration of faith and reconciliation of wrong-doing helps us to move forward.

What is so incredible about the process followed by Montgomery House is that it gives an opportunity for the participants to reflect on their lives, and to think about what it was, that brought you to the point of crisis.

We in the Maori Party are convinced of the value of the past as being an important part of our present. We are determined not to suffer from cultural amnesia, for the past to be forgotten, unspoken, glossed over.

We owe it to this nation to understand the origins of our modern state. The task of remembrance is essentially a means of respecting those tupuna, our ancestors and the negotiations they entered into, in ensuring our survival.

We will never forget the suppression of our spirituality; the theft and alienation of our land; the denial of our language; the denigration of our culture; the colonial legacy that led to poverty.

We must never overlook that this nation has its origins in a past where distinguished 19th century politician Sir Francis Dillon Bell stated, and I quote:

"The first plank of public policy must be to stamp out the beastly communism of the Maori".

Since that time Maori have been subjected to processes where traditional whanau, hapu and iwi social structures have slowly been undermined by the Crown.

Processes by which deprivation and disparity has become associated with the name, Maori.

We in the Maori Party know of other concepts associated with the name, Maori. Kaupapa such as manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, kotahitanga, whakapapa, kaitiakitanga.

We know of tikanga as the first law of Aotearoa. We know of knowledge and cultural heritage which is liberating, which is uplifting, which is key to our revitalisation.

But in order to achieve the extreme makeover – to determine our destiny from a platform of pride – we may first need to decolonise our thinking, to strip away the perceptions and prejudices which have shaped our thinking

We have to stand up and be counted – to face a past that no one wants to talk about – to understand from whence we come in order to know where we are going.

This time last week, I was celebrating with a kura in Marton, their ten year anniversary. It was a story very much like the twenty year anniversary we celebrate here today with Montgomery House. A story of survival, at all costs, because of the commitment and passion of the whanau who believed in Te Whetu Kahurangi.

I mihi to all of you who have believed in nga purapura whetu – the multitude of stars, the people, the whanau, the communities who have benefited from the programme at Montgomery House.

E kore au e ngaro, te kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea

I shall never be lost, the seed which was sown from Rangiātea.

The beginnings of our people go back in time and place to the distant past. We come from a proud history, a background which we can draw on to lead us forwards.

This is the greatest gift that Montomery House has given to you all – the gift of the present, informed by the past, inspired by the future.

I congratulate all of the people who have made it possible for the nine stars on this programme to graduate with a kete overflowing with skills, strategies, knowledge and experiences to achieve positive changes for you and your whanau, hapu and iwi.

It will not be easy –you will need the absolute support of your whanau and friends- but we all have every confidence in you that you have the strength and the courage to make it happen.

What we visualise, we can realise. You are part of my vision for a future which is violence-free; a future of peace; a future of hope.

Na reira, tena tatou katoa.


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