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Turia: Opening of Mokonui Woolshed

Opening of Mokonui Woolshed at Morikau Station, Ranana

Tariana Turia, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru

Friday 8 February 2008

[check against delivery]

I was delighted to accept the invitation from the Chairperson of the Morikaunui Incorporation, Hari Benevides, to be part of this very exciting opening of a new woolshed at Morikau Station.

George reminded me as we drove along the Mokonui to come here this morning, that we have a very personal reason for coming to share this special celebration day.

In these days of economic uncertainty, finance companies folding, interest rates rocketing, where else could you expect to receive a one hundred percent rate increase in the return on your investment?

Yes, Morikaunui Incorporation delivered to us this year the grand sum of a $24 payout from our initial investment – double the amount we received last year of a pricely $12.

I’m looking forward to next year at this rate, and the hope of $48!

I can say this to you and know you’ll share our joke, because that’s what family do.

The inter-relatedness of our families along the awa is traced back through our whakapapa to our tupuna, Tamakehu and Ruaka.

From Tamakehu and Ruaka came Tamaupoko, Hinengakau, and Tupoho – and from these three, derive the people of the river.

It is the families of the awa that we celebrate today, with some 5,500 shareholders who live within one hundred kilometers of Morikau Station – from Hiruharama to Ranana.

I want to particularly acknowledge our whakapapa - the influence and inspiration of the original owners of the land blocks now included within Morikau Station.

And it is only fitting today, that we pay tribute to the origins of Morikaunui – the second oldest Maori incorporation in Aotearoa.

These lands were released from Government control in 1955, under the founding authority of chair, Dr Whakaari Rangitakuku Mete Kingi, CBE.

One can’t go far in Morikau, without recognizing the vision that he had in steering the Morikau and Atihaunui Incorporations into the future.

He was truly a visionary for our people – influencing and being informed by his role in the New Zealand Maori Council, the New Zealand Planning Council, the New Zealand Business Roundtable.

We recall his words which have been gifted to the nation:

Ko te pae tawhiti whaia kia tata,

Ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tina.

Seek out the distant horizons, Cherish those you attain.

The vision was to have a dream, to grow our aspirations, but to also hold strong to our whenua.

We think of him, and we remember too, the unswerving loyalty and commitment to this dream shared by his son, Rangipo, whom we have so recently lost.

Our greatest tribute to their legacy may well be in continuing and enhancing what he started. To dream the dream and then to create the reality from being hard-working, focussed and committed.

In order to make it happen our greatest resource will be each other.

And I want to congratulate Morikaunui for your initiatives to be a source of strength for our people.

We recognise you as one of the largest employers on the awa, for the support you provide through the Whanganui Trust by means of grants and scholarships, and for your efforts to engage interest through the stakeholder farm visits, the annual horse trek on the station, and even hosting a Christmas party to celebrate all the local tamariki.

Through projects such as this, you are building up the shareholder interest into the affairs of the incorporation; you are increasing the collective responsibility and ownership of this station.

It is the generosity and your foresight in raising funds for say Ruaka Marae or the Awa School, that will help to give us all confidence in your enterprise.

Yours is a commitment to manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga. It is an expression of our rangatiratanga.

These are the kaupapa to help restore our whanau, hapu and iwi; to assist us in remedying the tensions and circumstances that led to the Incorporation being set up in the first place.

For I have to say, that I have always seen the various governance structures that have emerged out of the dispossession of lands experienced by our whanau, hapu and iwi as yet another part of the tangled legacy of colonization.

I point you to the work Esther Tinirau has done in documenting the story of Morikaunui lands; a story which recalls when the original Morikau Block was brought before the Native Land Court in 1899 it totalled approximately 24,100 acres.

My question will always be, how well are our whanau, hapu and iwi equipped to maintain our traditional roles and responsibilities for kaitiakitanga – the care of the land?

It is my view that the notion of shareholders has always flown in the face of ownership prior to the Treaty.

We must continue to ask how lands are acquired, how the allocation is decided, how the concept of communal ownership is respected.

But while I hold these views about incorporations in general, I acknowledge, fully, that Morikaunui has played a vital role in the retention of our lands.

The challenge before Morikaunui now – is however, not just one of Maori governance structures or even one of economics.

Indeed, if your latest Annual Report is anything to go by, Morikau Station is actually bucking national trends, and has increased station revenue by some 25%.

While it is important that we recognize the value of the economic unit, we must be careful to avoid putting the dollars ahead of the future sustainability of the land.

Just as our whanaunga, was prepared to be bold and take a massive leap in faith, Morikaunui must also prepare to carve out the destiny that you see as best for our people, best for this land.

You must be strong – to not be lead like ‘sheep’ or have the ‘wool pulled over your eyes’ or to be ‘fleeced’ by unscrupulous people.

It is about having faith in ourselves, and remaining committed to the concept of decision-making by consensus.

What will be the shared vision for Morikau Station?

What are the innovations you will be exploring to invest in agricultural practice that won’t impact adversely on our rivers and our lands?

Our relationships with our awa, our maunga, our whenua, have had to withstand the forces and effects of global climate change – and we must plan proactively to build protection of our environment into our long term plan.

In simple terms, the impact of a changing climate marked by warmer temperatures, increased drought, and more intensive, frequent and damaging rainfall will all impact on this farm, this land, this Incorporation.

We need to understand better, how to farm responsibly.

We know that farming has had a huge impact on the degradation of water quality.

And so there are questions that need to be considered and planned for about water storage and irrigation; about erosion reduction.

We know too, that the agriculture sector is heavily reliant on the national grid for large-scale irrigation, milking and shearing sheds, storage sheds, distilleries, slaughter–houses and so it goes on.

So what work might this Incorporation lead in the area of energy efficiency?

We are told that the agriculture sector is expected to start taking steps towards reducing carbon emissions before 2013 – what will that mean for Morikaunui?

A lot of this work can sound awfully alien to us – and perhaps we need to take small steps in order to achieve the great leap in progress.

So as a thought for today, I would encourage us all to start talking about climate change like we talk about the weather – indeed isn’t it all one and the same?

And also to know that there are friends and allies who can help make the conversations flow.

I have been interested in the ideas of Ngati Tuwharetoa/ Tuhoe woman, Dr Charlotte Severne.

Dr Severne has been studying such areas as the concept of kaitiakitanga in resource management; renewable energy solutions for Maori communities, and the influence of new technologies in addressing climate change.

Or there’s the work going on with the influence of Arden Anderson. This work has been focusing on developing a biological approach which relies on an organic rotation without chemicals.

Some of the outcomes from this system have produced yields that have been as high as the chemical system but used 30% less energy, less water and no pesticides.

Of course we must also look anew at the ways of old – our whenua rahui, our time-honoured tikanga around conservation and preservation.

We in the Maori Party are absolutely committed to assisting whanau, hapu and iwi, as tangata tiaki to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the well-being and future good health of our environmental legacy.

And so we will be looking to your leadership, your example, to enhance our collective responsibility to use the resources of the earth in ways that preserve the planet for current and future generations.

Finally, I want to leave us warm in the words of Rangitakuku:

He ao apopo

He ao tea

There is a new day tomorrow

and that new day will bring clarity.

As the decades have passed, your governance arrangements have become stronger, the constitution revised to be more relevant, your processes more transparent.

We must now utilise the fruits of dialogue and initiative to find innovative solutions to enduring environmental issues.

I hope that the opening of this new woolshed at Morikau Station, will be a day in which we can mark the opening of a new era – he ao apopo, he ao tea.


ENDS

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