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Turia: Adjournment Debate

Adjournment Debate; Friday 26 September 2008

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Tena koe Madam Speaker, tena tatou katoa

There is a whakatauaki which I wish to share in our final korero of the 48th Parliament:

He mate tino tangata, tena e renga mai

When an important person dies, the place fills up

Madam Speaker, this chamber is full to capacity with the presence of those lives who have touched us all.

The 48th Parliament opened with the tragic loss of Rod Donald and ended with the sad news of Brian Donnelly. A politician for whom I have huge regard and we offer our sympathies to his whanau.

Along the way, the journey has been marked by so many others, too many to name, but always in our hearts and thoughts.

And we think of Tumu Putaura and Boyd Matene – and how our Parliament came together, to mourn their passing.

E nga rangatira, e nga hoa, haere atu ra ki o aua tupuna, hoki wairua mai ki a matou e whai atu ana i muri i a koutou

The valedictory speeches that have been heard this week have enabled us all to appreciate the distinctive contributions of each of the retiring members. We in the Maori Party thank you for your dedicated commitment to doing good for this nation and we wish you a much improved quality of life, post November 8.

From the stunning excitement of election night in 2005, right through the last three years, we four Members of the Maori Party have loved the privilege of serving our constituency.

From the elderly couple in Kawakawa who felt treated unfairly by Work and Income to the families in rundown, state houses in Porirua, we have had the honour of representing their issues and we have endeavoured to do our best for them.

For they are the reason that we are here, to defend Maori rights, to uphold Maori interests and to do so, because we know it will benefit all of Aotearoa.

The Maori Party has been well served by time honoured kaupapa which have motivated our every move; watched over by the truly wise counsel of our President Whatarangi Winiata.

These kaupapa have enabled us to support what I believe is one of the most positive initiatives which occurred throughout the life of this Parliament – and that was the introduction of the Code of Conduct which was first recommended by Ross Robertson, the Assistant Speaker, Tena koe Ross. We enjoyed the opportunity to work collaboratively with members of the Greens, ACT and United Future in this initiative, and also in the successful repealing of the archaic Sedition legislation.

There have been other opportunities for cross parliamentary co-operation to be expressed.

The commitment across party lines to ‘encourage courage’ amongst our families and communities in treating our children as treasures was one of the most distinctive features of this Parliament.

The legislation to outlaw the capacity of adults to use physical force against children established a benchmark which this Parliament should rightly be proud of and I mihi to the Greens for that legislation.

We acknowledge, however, that the devastating impact of violence in our communities has featured too frequently, too savagely, for one to sit noho puku. We must be better in our progress as a nation to create and maintain violence free homes and violence free communities.

The Parliament has endured many challenges over the last three years, but none as dramatic as what happened to a small rural community in Ruatoki almost one year ago.

The introduction of the taser gun, the slaughter of police officers on the job, the unprecedented growth of the prison population, are all areas which must continue to be monitored if we value justice in the sense of a free and democratic society.

We noted with some irony yesterday that the most dramatic event in the last decade of political history, the theft or was it the gifting of the foreshore and seabed to the nation, was missing from member’s proud achievements. Perhaps out of shame?

But we must never forget the world is watching – they watched our country vote against the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

They watched Hone speak out against the injustice in the Northern Territory.

They are watching a Government which has voted against the Treaty of Waitangi in successive bills before this House.

But there have been some great moments in the life of the 48th Parliament. The Maori Party was thrilled when our support of Ngati Kahu, Ngati Tuwharetoa and Hauraki meant the Government was forced to backdown over the Landcorp and OTS mismanagement of land.

All parties have been enthusiastic at the sudden progress for iwi in concluding treaty settlements, and we have been impressed at the new approach of rangatira to rangatira, chief to chief. I want to mihi to Mark Burton for your contribution to Treaty settlements and I want to say thanks too, to the honourable Dr Michael Cullen for your absolutely outstanding commitment to Treaty settlements and we know that iwi have greatly appreciated your leadership.

We are proud that Te Ururoa Flavell was part of the team promoting simultaneous interpretation and that soon our official language will be truly practised as a living, breathing language of choice.

We are pleased with the progress we have experienced through our contributions to the select committees – I can speak really highly of the leadership of Sue Kedgley, and we recognise the health select committee for their support of the Treaty clause in the Public Health Bill.

Te Ururoa Flavell’s pressure for an inquiry into Maori schooling resulted in an important set of recommendations for a future in which the educational benefits can be enjoyed by all.

Dr Pita Sharples has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the honourable Dave Hereora and the other members of the Maori Affairs Select Committee; and we all consider our work across the Parliament to be a genuine source of satisfaction in a job well done.

Of course there is still much to do. We must as a nation eliminate poverty; we must ensure every child and whanau have the opportunity to thrive.

The work that we do across this Parliament is so much easier because of the professional and unrelentless support of so many worker bees in the hive.

From the dawn chorus of the security guards, the reception, the telephonists, the helpdesk team, the travel office, the messengers and the staff at Copperfields through to the midnight toil in the Office of the Clerk, the tables office, the librarians, the Hansard office, the legal team, the cleaners and all the other people that make this place hum, we are all extremely well served.

We are a united team in the Maori Party; our devoted parliamentary staff, our loyal electorate kaimahi; our ever loving whanau; enable us all to get through every day. Nga mihi aroha ki a koutou.

Each and every one of the people who occupies our lives gives of their all to enable us to be here; and we are humbled by the commitment they have made to the Maori Party but also to Parliament.

We want to recognise the hardworking team in the gallery above – the political journos, the oft maligned watch dogs of the fourth estate. They who constantly encourage us through their questioning, their commentary, blogs and reports to go either left or right.

They have yet to realise that we the Maori Party will go neither left or right, we are a Party who is determined to go forward in the best interests of our people. And that is the most important thing.

Once the microphones are switched off, the cameras put away, we are all travellers on a journey that rarely has a day off; and we acknowledge the impact that this has on all of us.

Finally, the company we keep in this chamber makes this place special.

And we will never forget that every one of the representatives in this Parliament is worthy of our respect and our admiration, for taking on the role of public office; and so we mihi to you all.

We have greatly appreciated the leadership of Madam Speaker, and those who have also occupied her chair – the honourable Marian Hobbs, Clem Simich, Ross Robertson, Ann Hartley. You have presided over some intense debates, and you have done so with integrity.

And just as Hone Harawira rose to let the first voice of the 48th Parliament be that of te reo rangatira, let the last word be words which we all hope to live up to, in every aspect of our lives.

To have trust and openness and integrity.

No reira, tena koutou.


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