Turia: Porirua Maori Providers Association
Porirua Maori Providers Association; Maraeroa Marae Health Clinic
He aha nga moemoea? He aha nga wawata?
Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru
Friday 11 April 2008; 10am
Last December, TV3’s Campbell Live featured a Maori family from the Creek.
The camera zoomed in on the whanau jamming on the back lawn, washing line full, everyone singing, content, happy.
Was it a dream? A fluke? A one-off miracle?
Was it indeed possible that mainstream media could take the cameras to Cannons Creek and show a story of love, of faith, of passion?
The focus of the interview was young Paiheretia Aperahama –finalist in the North City Shooting Star Talent Quest, and at eleven years of age, the youngest talent to ever reach the semi-finals of Maorioke – Maori TV’s popular karaoke competition show.
In another interview, Mum Dianne, talked about her son, saying
“there’s such joy in the House when he’s humming away. This is just a wonderful opportunity for a child to catch a wave as it comes”.
The story about the young Te Kura Maori o Porirua celebrity made an impact on many levels.
Of course, the sheer talent and musicality of the boy they nicknamed ‘Maori Jackson’ was impressive, but so too, was the pride of his parents in the strength that all of their children possessed in te reo Maori, in tikanga Morehu.
It was such a wonderful contrast to usual bad news tales, to watch a story about an everyday whanau, who were passionate about music, who were devoted to their spiritual growth.
I am greatly inspired by Paiheretia and the opportunities he took up, to catch the wave of well-being.
What could the wave of well-being look like for Porirua?
For Maraeroa, for Horoauta, for Takapuwahia?
For the whanau supported by Te Whare Tiaki Wahine Refuge?
For Ngati Toa? Nga Tangata whenua o te taurahere?
Far be it from me, from Ngati Apa, Tuwharetoa, Whanganui and Nga Rauru, to come into your rohe and define your solutions.
I want to be listening to your voices, to hear your views on the bright ideas that you have about things we must do as a political party, to support your mahi– and just as importantly to support this community.
I have always been impressed by the passion so many of your people hold for Porirua – there are just so many wonderful advocates here whom I have learnt so much from – and I thank you for your incredible generosity in sharing with me.
But if I could focus on one thing – it would be the connection that you all celebrate through your association with PaMPA – the Porirua Maori Providers Association.
As social justice advocates I know you are frequently hamstrung by the hand that feeds you – the contracts that stipulate what you must do and when.
So often your funding is tied to addressing the deficits, targeting the problems with no regard for anything positive that may happen along the way.
We in the Maori Party stand for a commitment to a vision of a fair and just community.
How do you grow your community? What can you do to bring out the best of all of your people? What will your organization do to keep the community spirit high?
This is a community with a strong and intense history.
A history in which the Crown has accepted responsibility for the way it had acted in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, by kidnapping Te Rauparaha and forcing Te Rangihaeata into permanent exile.
It is a tortured history in which the Crown has failed to ensure that Ngati Toa were left with sufficient land holdings, leaving them in a state of virtual landlessness.
The Waitangi Tribunal has found that the Crown failed to protect the customary interests of Ngäti Toa, and that it took steps to undermine the rangatiratanga of Ngati Toa.
On top of a concentrated policy of military action and coercion, Ngati Toa has taken steps to submit a Waitangi claim, to pursue full restoration of the mana and the dignity belonging to the people.
But there have been other events and circumstances which have shaped the landscape.
The name of Porirua, for many New Zealanders, has been associated with the Porirua Lunatic Asylum which at its peak, cared for some 2000 people.
There is the lasting legacy of the influx of state houses which were constructed from the early 1950s on, but which have been grossly neglected by the state in the decades which followed.
I have been appalled at the way in which whole streets of houses continue to remain in various states of disrepair; housing conditions which have impacted adversely on the health of your community.
There is the fusion of tangata whenua with the pride of the Pacific, as the pressure of the labour market has brought the peoples of Polynesia to Porirua.
There are the effects of the urbanisation of our people, as Todd Motors and other industries have drawn us here.
Porirua is associated also with a particular gang culture.
I was reading a biography from Hone Davis in Robert Shaw’s web-blog. Hone recalled his childhood days, remembering
The gangs used to walk as a whole gang along the street. They were all leathered out, the boys and the girls. When I went to Corinna School, in 1970, we had to affiliate to a gang so we were safe in the field during lunchtime and playtime. Otherwise you ran the risk of getting caught in the middle.
So for my father's generation and for mine, there's been that kind of culture present in Porirua. But I've heard some really good things lately about fathers getting out of the gangs and trying to keep their kids out.
This quick browse through the history and experiences of this place, by its very nature can only skim the surface of the depth of association and links that you as individuals, as members of whanau, hapu and iwi hold.
We have a whakatauki which reminds of the need for caution as we plan to set sail for the horizons, to aspire to our future.
Titiro ki muri kia whakatika a mua
Those who ignore the lessons of the past
are doomed to repeat them.
The pursuit of wellbeing for our people in this rohe, must encompass reconciliation and healing, the restoration of spirit.
It is about facing our histories, understanding the savage impact of land alienation, of discrimination and racism, of military violence, the psychiatric abuse of power, the tensions and dynamics involved in creating communities without town planners and city architects devoting any space to cultural respect.
It’s about facing this past – not ignoring it – understanding therefore how important the process of cultural revitalisation and restoration is to the journey onwards.
What should be our moemoea, our wawata for the wellbeing of tangata whenua?
The panui for this hui today, summed it all up –
He aha te mea nui? Ko koe ko au, ko au ko koe.
Maaku e ki, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
For the women and children in the care of Te Whare Tiaki Wahine, it is about reconnecting with those who can best restore their whanau with a strong sense of identity, the safety and protection of those who care.
For Te Kowhao, Te Roopu Pokai Taaniwhaniwha, it’s about reconnecting and linking in to kaupapa, to tikanga, as the foundation for spiritual and mental health.
For Te Roopu Awhina it may be about drawing on the wisdom of whakawhanaungatanga as a vital resource for social service developments in Porirua.
There’s the progress that Streets Ahead 237 has made with the support of the Maraeroa Marae health clinic, in supporting youth at risk.
You’re probably very familiar with the work that Fa’amatuainu Wayne Poutoa and his team are doing, the work that got him recognised with a ‘World of Difference’ Award.
I liked what he had to say, about why he had committed his life to supporting young people – many of these rangatahi who have been influenced adversely by the impact of marijuana, alcohol, methamphetamine (P), violence.
For us it’s also largely about connecting people to their culture, which is currently replaced by the American lifestyles and rap music and all that kind of rubbish.
We connect our people back and say, ‘You’re an extension of your ancestors’ journey and therefore you have a legacy to fulfil’ – when we bring you to the marae under an indigenous umbrella, you’re able to understand ‘Who am I? Where do I fit?’ and therefore you become complete.
That’s a key component in helping people come out of gang life into better things.
You are an extension of your ancestors journey. You have a legacy to fulfill.
What better encouragement could there be than to make that ultimate connection with our tupuna, our kaupapa, the dreams and aspirations our ancestors had for the generations to follow.
Paiheretia feels the value of te reo Maori, of tikanga Morehu, in every aspect of his life. It is the cloak that keeps him warm against the winds of change; it is the korowai that gives him confidence to make it in the world.
The wellbeing of tangata whenua is worth working for.
It is worth putting the effort in to create a time of renewal and hope for the future.
It is worth making the commitment to celebrate our continual growth as a nation, a nation of cultural diversity and richness where our unity is underpinned by the expression of tangata whenua-tanga, Te käkano i ruia mai i Rangiätea.
It is worth doing what we can to maintain a clean natural environment for all New Zealanders to benefit from.
It is worth seeing the world with our unique perspective, restoring the philosophies, practices and world views encompassed within the tangata whenua reality.
I think that Paiheretia knew all of that, when he chose to sing on Maorioke, the classic love song, I’ll be there.
I’ll reach out my hand to you, I’ll
have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there
And perhaps that is the most significant challenge yet, we’ll be there with a love so strong, we’ll be there to face the future together, we’ll be there to share the collective responsibility of caring for each other.