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Speech: Sharples - Kaitoko Whānau Launch

Hon Dr Pita Sharples; Minister of Māori Affairs
Kaitoko Whānau Launch
Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt
29 October 2009;10.00 AM

We have a saying that we walk on the shoulders of giants – so that we see more, and at a greater distance; it’s not just that we see, but we are carried along by the giants, who enhance our own contribution to things.

This is a concept that I am thinking of today in this exciting launch of Kaitoko Whanau.

I am thinking particularly of Dr Kara Puketapu – a man who served as Secretary for Maori Affairs; an entrepreneur who acquired an international reputation through his enterprise, Maori International; a man who was a top rugby league player in his youth; who did a year of field work with Pueblo Indians in New Mexico as a Harkness Fellow; served two years with the New Zealand diplomatic corps in London; and of course, who has gifted us all with the legacy of Tu Tangata.

With the recent passing of Sir Howard Morrison who was the original face of Tu Tangata, those of us who were around at that period have reflected on the significance of the Tu Tangata programme and the impact they made in their day.

A key symbol of Tu Tangata was the picture of a student being guided by the sure hand of a community elder – to stand tall.

Today we acknowledge that history, and we build on that foundation, as we lead into the challenges ahead of us still.

This programme, Kaitoko Whanau, is all about whanau and that’s why it’s significant, the programmes that Kara has got up and running - Tamaiti Whangai, Whanau Connect – are about whanau as well.

We have had enough of trials and pilots and policy programmes which are done to the people.

This programme is, at its very heart, designed, developed and delivered by whanau for whanau.

Technically, the kaitoko whanau will be employed by Te Puni Kokiri. But in reality, they will be recruited by, placed with and supervised by communities themselves through their own orgnisations. You select, and you embrace, hei whakaruruhau, enei kaimahi i roto i a ratou mahi.

It is anticipated that a total of one thousand whanau will be assisted after the first twelve months of Kaitoko Whanau in operation.

If the basis of the project is whanau, the principles are about building long term resilience for some of our more vulnerable families; families who have felt the particular pressure of adverse economic conditions.

And I want to acknowledge the leadership emerging from the Maori Economic Summit I held earlier this year, and the subsequent vision demonstrated by the Maori Economic Taskforce I have established to build on the momentum of Maori.

The Taskforce has clung to our most fundamental values – kaupapa such as whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, kotahitanga, rangatiratanga – will help to see us through any challenge.

Central to our success will be whanau – and so today I am delighted to announce Kaitoko Whanau – as one of three major initiatives to protect and promote whanau.

Earlier this month I launched Mara Kai – making available putea for marae to make gardens, to encourage whanau of the area to put down a garden, and share and recapture those skills of gardening that were our way in the early days. When we were little there were always gardens around the houses, so here is an opportunity to do that again. I launched Mara Kai at Waipatu Marae in Hastings; and in the next few weeks I will be launching Oranga Whanau.

Together, all three projects are designed to both support our most vulnerable families, and to build a long term sustainable Maori economy.

So what do we expect of Kaitoko Whanau?

We are setting up a network of kaitoko whanau to work directly with community groups who are working with families anyway, to link back to agencies.

It’s an introduction towards a whole Whanau Ora programme that the Maori Party has been pushing with government – funding to go out to communities so they can govern their own affairs and their health and their social situations and not have to go through agency after agency who are operating independently. That’s why this project is so important, because it will be seen as a test case of how we work amongst ourselves.

I want to really congratulate the groups which have stood up and, in effect, selected themselves by their good work.

We have Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui; Kokiri Marae; Muaupoko Tribal Authority; Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira and Whakatu Marae in Nelson. Congratulations on the work you’re doing for our people in your areas.

There will be thirteen Kaitoko Whanau placed in Tamaki Makaurau; five in Waikato; in Te Tai Hauauru; and in Whanganui a Tara; four kaitoko whanau in Te Tai Tokerau, Te Moana a Toi; in Takitimu and in Te Waipounamu; and three each in Te Arawa; and in Tairawhiti. These are Te Puni Kokiri districts.

But we are talking about much more than fifty individuals – they will bring in their group who are already working out there. And that’s the whole point – we want to show that we know best for ourselves.

In turn, each of these kaitoko whanau will broker arrangements with government agencies and service providers for appropriate health, education and social services. But more importantly, they might just want your support, the whanau support, the odd visit every now and again.

These Kaitoko whanau will be closely accountable to the people. We will be able to see the difference made, when all our whanau are well informed, they have access to the support services they require, and there is the follow-through required to ensure they remain connected to services for as long as they need to be.

Ultimately this is about our mokopuna. Our people were asked: What do Maori want? And the answer is so easy – we want a world where our mokopuna can live as Maori, should they choose to; which means that the language and Maori concepts are available to them. We want them to be healthy, with a reasonable amount of prosperity, and we want them to interact with the affairs of the world.

That is a dream, and our kaitoko whanau can help realise it. It is not a welfare organisation, it is a pro-development kaupapa. We are not here to give handouts, this programme is to enhance the mana of each family.

So, it is a pleasure to be here amongst you, to launch such a positive kaupapa – no reira tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.


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