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Tariana Turia: Presentations of tohu in business

Te Puawaitanga Taranaki: Te Wananga o Aotearoa

Presentations of tohu in business, small business management, social services, te ara reo Maori, toi paematua raranga

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Owae Marae, Waitara;   Saturday 17 May 2008, 10am

Te Atiawa, tena koutou.

E nga mana o tenei whenua, mihi mai, mihi mai.

Ko te awa o Whanganui tenei e mihi atu nei ki te maunga Taranaki

No reira, e nga iwi, e nga reo, tena koutou katoa.

It is a great honour for me to be here at Owae marae, ki te puawaitanga o nga mahi katoa.

A day like today is a day to be treasured.

A day when we celebrate the flowering of your efforts, the culmination of your commitment.

It is a day to cherish, Te Puawaitanga.

We recognise your determination to increase and nurture your knowledge of te reo Māori and tikanga, and in doing so, to strengthen your understandingof Māori customs and protocols.

We pay tribute to the hours you have spent at noho marae, at weekend wananga, at tutorials, in doing the mahi required for each semester.

Some of you will graduate today, having acquired skills which will help you to lead community and iwi development roles; to take up a career in social work.

Others of you have applied yourself to the task of learning all there is to know about accounting and financial management; about how to operate a small business; how to succeed in the market.

Together, you are a fabulous representation of the very face of this institution, aptly calledthe Rangiatea outpost.

Rangiatea is of course the name of the first house in the heavens.

In tangata whenua worldviews, Rangiatea is a vital concept in the journey in which te ira tangata, the people, gained knowledge.

It is a metaphor for the journey of enlightenment, the passage by which we strive to become better people.

These stories, which describe the whakapapa of the whole of creation, remind us of the sacred power of knowledge.

Rangiatea was the place in which the three baskets of knowledge were found. 

The basket namedkete uruuru matua – te kete tuauri – held the teachings of peace, goodness and hope.

The basket named kete uruuru rangi – te kete tuatea – was the basket of prayers, incantatations and ritual.

The basket named kete uruuru tau –te kete aronui – holds all knowledge relating to parts, to agriculture, to war, to wood and stonework, to earthwork.

Ka puta te ira tangata ki te whai – ao.  Ki te Ao marama

The life principle of humankind comes forth into the dawn comes the world of light.

I wanted to recall these stories about Rangiatea, the firstwhare wānanga or centre for higher learning of Māori tradition, as I believe it is important that we all recognise the journey, the endeavour and the status that should be ascribed to knowledge.

Tohunga, scholar, writer, healer, minister and philosopher Maori Marsden referred to this time asTua-uri, which literally means ‘beyond the dark’.

And so today, we welcome the gift ofmātauranga; the contribution that knowledge will bring to Te Ao Marama, the world to come.

How you will use the gift of matauranga is now the big question.

A little bit before our time, a philosopher called Socrates, believed that with knowledge came responsibility - knowledge cannot simply be possessed, but must also be managed.

What will you do with the learning represented in the tohu you receive today?

How will your certificates in business skills, te ara reo Maori, toi paematua raranga, and social services be used for the collective good?

Will it beyou that leads the way in creating the change necessary to improve the lives of so many of our people who are affected by poor Government policies and practices?

How does the study you have undertaken at Rangiatea enhance the lives of those who love – those who supported you to complete the courses we recognise today.

The Maori Party is particularly interested in supporting the growth of independent, distinctive views and opinions.  As the strong and independent Maori voice in Parliament we know the value of unconstrained advice – the capacity to express our world views without first being filtered through a mainstream minder.

In a global climate of uncertainty, it is vital that communities and nations have control over their destiny – rangatiratanga. We have to be able to make decisions for ourselves, and carry them out.

We believe that the survival of Maori as a people will come from thesolutions we determine – solutions that you may all be already a part of.

Maori film-maker, lecturer and director, Merata Mita, reminds us:

We have a history of people putting Maori under a microscope in the same way a scientist looks at an insect. 

The ones doing the looking are giving themselves the power to define. 

It was in the context of such a view, that Merata Mita picked up a camera and documented the occupation of Bastion Point.  

This event, you will be aware, began in 1977 when the government

proposed to subdivide their tupuna land in the centre of Auckland city.

Merata wanted to record for posterity the fact of Ngati Whatua people occupying the land, building living areas, and planting crops.

The film focuses on the 507th day of occupation when the protesters were forcibly removed.   A day, which we will be reminded of on the 25th May 2008, thirty years after the combined police and military operation embarked on Bastion Point.

She gave an independent view, a view sourced in Maori approaches, a view that told the story through Maori eyes.

Here in Waitara, there may be many more stories to be told of the impacts of sustained attacks over generations of your history, that the people of Taranaki have endured on their property and persons.

The Waitangi Tribunal concluded in the Taranaki Report that, and I quote:

“Taranaki Maori were dispossessed of their land, leadership, means of livelihood, personal freedom and social structures and values”.

The legacy of the invasion on ancestral land, the Crown’s assumption of the right to govern and its failure to protect Maori interests has had lasting inter-generational effect.

Perhaps it will be the graduands who qualify in te ara reo Maori who record your story for your mokopuna to understand.

Perhaps it will be the graduands in toi paematua raranga that represent the experiences of the people through the beauty of their art statements.

Perhaps it will be the graduants in small business management who assist in the pathway forward to lift the lid off tangata whenua talents, to draw on the foundation of success that Te Wananga has provided to make this country great again.

The Maori Party absolutely believes in the potential of people to achieve the impossible.

Indeed, who would know better than Te Wananga o Aotearoa that with solid commitment and determination, any obstacle can be overcome.

And I want to acknowledge this institution today, for your courage and perseverance in keeping confidence high; and in so doing dismantling the negative perceptions, the political criticisms and the pressure you have been subjected to over the last few years.

I acknowledge the Pouhere, Bentham Ohia, for his expertise and illustrious achievements in consolidating the incredible performance of this institution. 

An institution which is now listed by the Tertiary Education Commission as a Centre of Research excellence.

I acknowledge too, the pride that Taranaki will feel in the recent appointment of Ngati Tama, Ngati Mutunga, Maniapoto and Waikato man, Richard Batley, who has been appointed chairman.

But perhaps the greatest acknowledgement today, again returns to the people and your belief in the power of knowledge to transform.

You have drawn upon the three kete of knowledge to embrace every challenge that you face across Taranaki, across Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Te Wananga o Aotearoa has established an environment in which the world of learning has been opened to all.

And you have walked in, heads held high, willing to learn, eager to contribute to the advancement of creativity and entrepreneurship.

I wish you all the greatest strength in continuing your journey, and we in the Maori Party extend to you all our immense pride in congratulating you all at this Te Puawaitanga 2008.


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