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Tariana Turia: Speech To Ethnic Councils AGM

New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Council AGM

Wellington City Council

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Māori Party

Saturday 28 June 2008

I am privileged to be with you today, and to celebrate your progress as an organisation.

And I want to firstly congratulate the Federation and your sixteen constituent ethnic councils for your achievement last year, in being awarded recognition for your outstanding contribution to race relations.

The others on the panel have the direct responsibility and obligation to respond to your questions around the capability or otherwise of Government in progressing multicultural legislation, funding the Federation, and providing the support needed for you to continue your work.

In fact I am as interested as you are in wanting to know why the Government hasn’t been forthcoming with the support we would expect to enable your capacity building programme to succeed.  One would think a self-determining people - achieving the aspirations you have set for yourself - is the very worthiest of goals and well worth the investment.

I want to instead focus on the work you have done in providing a voice for your constituent groups - and the achievements you have made in being visible in events such as the multiethnic festivals, the research on migrants, the special councils you have established.

What you are doing is protecting and preserving the very essence of your respective people.  It is an honourable aim, and one that the Māori Party absolutely endorses.

You may have wondered why it is, that the Māori Party colours are red, black and white.   Contrary to some beliefs, it is not because we are raging Crusader fans!

We take our colours from a proverb uttered by King Potatau Te Wherowhero at his coronation in 1858. 

Kotahi te kohao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro pango me te miro whero.

There is a single eye of the needle through which the white, black and red threads must pass.

Using the richness of this proverb, our colours represent the many paths, and the many peoples, that have come together to make New Zealand our home – our pathways forward to the future.

These many paths and many peoples start with us the tangata whenua.

The current Maori Party MP’s all belong to different tribes. We have different dialects and use different words and spellings.

We see the diversity amongst ourselves as being a strength.

We fear not difference, indeed we welcome it.  We welcome it as we have welcomed every visitor to our marae today and in times past.

We honour guests as indeed we know that those who we have welcomed respect us as hosts.  There have been times in our past however when this has not always been the case.

Our current experience is that many people who have come to Aotearoa in recent times have shown that they very clearly respect the tangata whenua of Aotearoa and it has been my experience that the many new migrants I have met share similar values of family and of responsibility to each other.

But back to the colours.

Our colours also incorporate their traditional meanings, put simply:

Ma/White: tohu o nga rangi – - pure like the fallen snow -  and a clean New Zealand;

Pango/Black: tohu o te ringa raupa – representing the hard work and acknowledging the efforts to build a nation based on diverse cultural positions and visions;

Whero/Red: tohu rangatira – the dignity, leadership and the pride we have for our country – our home.
I wanted to share these thoughts with you today, in response to your questions around our support for multicultural legislation and the non-governmental organisations who have done so much work to advance the cause of your many peoples.

We in the Māori Party have always appreciated the importance for strong relationships between the philosophies, practices and world views encompassed within the tangata whenua reality; and knowing how to share our world of Aotearoa with the rest of the world.

You may have also wondered why that in our logo we have the word, maori, in small caps rather than in capital letters as it would be if you were referring to Māori as the name of a population of peoples.

Māori written with the small m - means natural or indigenous.  We believe indigenous values, the kaupapa Māori that drive our party, will ensure our country maintains its natural beauty and is home for all New Zealanders.

The Maori Party came into Parliament driven by a vision for our land, which recognizes kaupapa Maori and tikanga Maori as a foundation which will benefit not only Maori, but all those people who lay claim to this country as their homeland.

Let me share just a view of these Māori worldviews, as they apply to multicultural peoples.

Kotahitanga is the principle of unity of purpose and direction. It is demonstrated through the achievement of harmony where all are encouraged to make a contribution, to have their say and then together work collectively for mutual benefit.

Some of the recent tragedies that have occurred throughout Aotearoa in recent weeks remind me just how desperately we need to restore that sense of collective ownership.  In the Māori Party we talk about a community of hands - that spirit of working together, looking after our neighbours, watching out for one another that we used to do so well.

Another one of our key values ismanaakitanga - behaviour that acknowledges the mana of others as having equal or greater importance than one’s own. 

The ultimate outcome of manaakitanga is to know that we live in a fair and just society.  So to manaaki the aspirations of our people for such a goal, we work for the elimination of poverty and injustice, and to create an environment where the care and welfare of one’s neighbour is still important.

Manaakitanga is also seen when our people as tangata whenua, the first peoples of this land, and as Treaty partners, take up our responsibilities as host to ensure that all peoples that make New Zealand their home are treated with fairness and dignity.

As a recent example of this, last May when an Immigration Bill came before the House, the Maori Party put forward a Supplementary Order Paper to call for a cultural education programme for immigration advisers – including the Treaty and basic tikanga and te reo.  We also proposed a Maori Immigration Education Council to oversee the programme.

We absolutely believe that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is fundamental to good race relations; and we also know that there is significant interest and support from the many ethnic communities throughout Aotearoa for understanding exactly what it is that makes this nation unique.

It is the constitutional significance of the Treaty that gives status to the Māori seats in our Parliament; as a legitimate means for Māori political expression to occur.  Interestingly, it has not been our ethnic communities that have been the ones to be so concerned about the strength of the Māori voice!

Getting back to the Immigration Bill, our thinking was that we needed to develop systems for whanau, hapu and iwi to help immigrants and refugees in their adjustment to Aotearoa.  It was also about developing and valuing reciprocal relationships between Maori and other peoples who call Aotearoa home.

Unfortunately the Government didn’t share our same enthusiasm for such a relationship and they responded by applying the financial veto procedure - which in effect prevents the amendment from being voted on. 

Which brings me to another kaupapa - that ofrangatiratanga.  Rangatiratanga, in essence, asserts and confirms the role of Maori as tangata whenua; the constitutional significance of our indigenous status.

Rangatiratanga would be recognised if tangata whenua were involved in immigration policy, in the policy and decision-making processes around multicultural legislation.

Another one of our kaupapa, that of Kaitiakitanga, entails an active exercise of responsibility in a manner beneficial to resources and the welfare of the people.

We believe that the growth and development of the Maori people, of Pasifika peoples, of all ethnic groups and cultures, would be a direct outcome of kaitiakitanga. 

Because of this we consistently focus on the need to secure a future of living in good health and in reasonable prosperity. We must foster and promote sustainable management and growth of the economy so as to provide a stable and secure environment for future generations.

There is so much more I would like to share with you - but I am aware that you have such a full programme ahead of you that this session can only be limited.

But finally, I want to mihi to you all for your determination and your passion in protecting the fundamental cultural values, customs, beliefs, languages and traditions that make you who you are.

We look at you and we see reflected also our vision for a new dawning: i te wheiao ki te ao Marama.

 

A new dawning which brings with it an irresistible energy in Aotearoa. 

It is about being fluent in who we are - our cultural strength, our cultural heritage, our cultural diversity.

It is about being in charge of our own destiny.

We in the Māori Party look forward to working closely together to advance our nationhood, to truly care for this land and our peoples.

Ends

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