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Working together to eliminate abuse and violence

Working together to eliminate abuse and violence

Launch of Te Roopu Whiriwhiri - Whakatane

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

Tuesday 7 October 2008; 5pm

I spent yesterday in Whanganui attending the tangi of Rangitihi Tahuparae; at Putiki Marae on the banks of the Whanganui River.

Today I have returned to the two branches of the Whakatane River system – the Whakatane and Waimana Rivers.

And so it was natural for me, in coming here to Te Roopu Whiriwhiri, to turn to the concept of a river that connects us all.

As your name suggests, Te Roopu Whiriwhiri provides a basis for whanau to connect, to be sustained by the strength of your support that flows through from the 26 agencies which come together to eliminate abuse and violence.

The diverse streams of Te Roopu Whiriwhiri as I understand it include a collaboration between health and disability services; relationship services, housing; hospital, ACC, iwi, Police, local government and many other tributaries of social change.

Like the finest whariki, the strength of your separate disciplines, the unique skills and expertise of the workers who come to this roopu, are your greatest resource.

In the Maori Party, we have always placed great faith in the lesson of the whakatauaki that Kingi Potatau Te Wherowhero uttered at his coronation in 1858; 150 years ago

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.

This proverb illustrates the many paths, and the many peoples, that have come together to make Aotearoa our home – our pathway forward to the future.

Indeed, it is this same proverb that we, as a Maori Party, have based our colours on; the white, the black, the red.

It assists us in our vision to build a nation based on diverse cultural positions.

We say that our people are our greatest wealth.

And so, the challenge that you have set yourselves, in providing a whariki to provide a stable foundation for the whanau you work with, is a goal to be celebrated.

The whariki our tupuna wove together, incorporated the aho, the threads of learnings over many generations.

Sometimes these threads may become damaged and frayed.

The challenge before us all – whether in the Maori Party or in Te Roopu Whiriwhiri – is to know what we need to do, to repair the damaged threads and make our whariki strong enough to build a better future.

The wear and tear of relationships which in some cases leads to our whariki being worn, requires the highest quality of support we can provide.

And so I celebrate with you, this unique collaboration which unites and strengthens networks in your communities for the prevention of family violence.

Your challenge –‘it’s everyone’s business, get involved’ – is a message which we tautoko with all our heart.

Our vision, in supporting the repeal of section 59, was to inspire debate in our homes, our marae, our communities, about the ways in which we raise children with love.

I was asked the other day whether I had ever sworn at my children, and I was able to say truthfully, I had never abused them in that way. It may not seem a big thing – but it is nevertheless something I am proud to live up to – that we treat each other with respect.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. The language we use, the way we look, the care we wrap around each other.

If we are to truly bring about long term, meaningful change in our community our approach must take just as many strands as the threads that form this whariki.

Violence as we know, shows itself in many different forms. It is easy to become shocked by the sight of a physical beating, but we must also think of the minds, hearts, and souls damaged by psychological and emotional torture. Children who may, later in life, react in physical ways as a result of the unseen injuries.

If we care about our children, and I know we do, the protection of them from any form of violence is a priority.

The Maori Party has considered this issue to be one of the most critical issues facing our families.

We know, from the outset, that the critical economic situation outlaid by Dr Cullen yesterday, in the pre-election economic and fiscal update, brings with it additional stresses to an already stressful situation.

That update told us to expect an increase in unemployment, and subsequent rise in the number of beneficiaries as a result of the slowing economy.

It reminded us of the increasing cost pressures of electricity, interest rates, fuel and food on households and businesses.

And it told us that the international financial crisis has been moving rapidly and considerable uncertainty remains.

Nobody here needs to be told of the close association between socio-economic deprivation and family violence.

One of our highest priorities in our policy manifesto therefore, is the economy.

Fixing up some basic issues which have been causing far too many children and families to suffer. We will be:

• Increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour;

• Raising core benefit levels, including superannuation and veterans pensions

• Simplifying Working for Families, to include consideration of a Universal Child benefit;

• Extending the inwork payment to all families;

• Establishing a neighbourhood renewal fund.

We want to also see more discipline exercised by the state in eliminating social hazards such as gambling. We believe the harm done by pokies for Maori, Pasifika, Asian, low-income and beneficiaries should be addressed by measures such as reviewing the way in which funding is redistributed from poor communities to activities which benefit people in other areas.

These initiatives are all steps to ensure everyone has a fair and decent standard of living in the land of milk and money.

With socio-economic stress addressed, we want to see empowering relationships become the norm in all of our whanau, and our communities.

And I want to just make mention of perhaps the key force for change that resides outside of the 26 agencies that form the collaboration we celebrate today. I want to focus on some ideas for restoration and revitalisation of our whanau, as the focus of all efforts in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention.

And I want to mihi to two people who will be well known round here to many of you – Josie Karanga and Tamati Kruger- who have inspired us greatly with Project Mauriora.

Mauriora –ultimate and optimal well-being – is an ongoing journey which involves

• dispelling the illusion that violence is normal;

• removing opportunities for violence to occur;

• transformative practice, sourced in our kaupapa.

These are three simple strategies that we can all apply in our own settings.

Whanau members who seek support are often at a vulnerable point in their life. The expectation we have of Te Roopu Whiriwhiri is that you will share a commitment to promote a safe and caring environment for Maori, to nurture the support and healing of the individual and their whanau in its entirety.

I see that same expectation in the values you believe in – integrity, commitment, aroha and tino rangatiratanga.

These are all positive signals that your group is committed to enduring meaningful change in every action you take.

As the strong and independent Maori voice in Parliament, we carry the same belief that the kaupapa tuku iho which we strive to uphold are essential values for the good of the parliament and indeed the good of the nation.

The challenge is to make our kaupapa live and breathe in every action we take – and not just to be treated as words on a page.

The prevailing question us both – at Te Roopu Whiriwhiri and in the Maori Party is to ensure that we are indeed confident of our own theories and concepts, our own methodologies and tools, to work within our Maori communities for the benefit of all who call Aotearoa home.

Ends


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