Te Lauhigano Tokelau, 2010 AGM
Hon Tariana Turia
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
Monday 27 September 2010;
Te Lauhigano Tokelau, 2010 AGM
Maraeroa Marae, Waitangirua, Porirua
Tulou! Tulou! Tulou lava!
My special greetings to the President; the Chairperson and members of the Fono ate Taumatua; the Council of Elders; and the Trustees, staff and management of Te Lauhigano Tokelau.
I am very proud to be invited to share part of this special time with you, as you begin your AGM and your series of community development workshops.
This is a perfect place to be considering issues of critical importance to the Tokelauan communities in Aotearoa.
Maraeroa Marae – takes its name from a shortened form of Maara Roa – the long garden; and the influence of an unnamed woman who was reknown for her generosity.
According to the late Alf Potaka, this woman fed and sheltered visitors here at this place, and was always associated with an abundant spirit of generosity. When it came to naming the wharenui, this woman, was honoured with the name Ukaipo Hiato. Ukaipo is a concept we understand best as providing a source of nurturing and sustenance; hiato referring to a place of gathering.
And so as we gather here under the auspices of Te Lauhigano Tokelau it seems only right that we are speaking of the people, the places, the reasons that unite us, and bring us to spend time together.
I want to firstly congratulate Dr Elelkana Faafoi, who has provided such inspiring leadership in the role as Managing Director of Te Lauhigano Tokelau. Steering the course of your own development, guided by your own values and the unique assets of the Tokelauan way is critical to your future; and I came here primarily to acknowledge the importance of believing and trusting in your own solutions.
Your programme over this next fortnight is an impressive one, which co-ordinates so many different strands together. It is great to see the three different groups – Te Muaki, Amanaki and Takiulu coming together at tomorrow afternoon’s session; and so much emphasis throughout the sessions placed on family wellbeing and resiliency.
I have had a look through your strategic development plan – and I want to commend everyone involved in Te Lauhigano Family and Community Development Association for the work you are doing, in what you describe as a community-controlled organisation.
This is the pathway to your future; a pathway which your ancestors have carved out for you; a pathway which today’s generations are helping to shape for the families of tomorrow.
The themes for this 2010 AGM are ones that warm my heart.
Sustainable community development; harnessing culture; connecting community; building society; protecting family – and the ever-present focus on the strength of people are all concepts which I believe are critical to the success of any community.
I believe that communities must be empowered to achieve their own goals in their own way that they wish to achieve them.
As Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, I am responsible for the community development work carried out within the Department of Internal Affairs and the officials who work along side of you and with you. I am also responsible for the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector in the Ministry of Social Development - who will be speaking at sessions on Wednesday and Thursday– and the Charities Commission with whom I understand you are registered.
This is part of the business of Government which I know you are already so familiar with, as I see evidence of effective engagement right throughout your plan.
But I come to you today, to also speak together as peoples of the Pacific, knowing we have much to share; as we share whakapapa and lines of descent which link us together from the waters of Te Moana nui a Kiwa.
We each bring unique stories, songs, worldviews and values which are both complementary and distinctive.
Central in our community values, is the great strength of being community-controlled – and acknowledging the vital importance of tikanga and kaupapa; what might also be known as Faka-Tokelau, investing in the culture and values of your people as the driving force that motivates and inspires your people.
I was really interested in a model I read in the Whitireia Nursing Journal by Savali Lapana. Savali drew on the concept of the pa hi atu – the Tokelau fishing lure – as a concept of health promotion.
The significance of pa hi atu was that it was both an essential element of every day living; but more importantly, it represented a way of life which the Tokelau people regard as being about their survival.
As tangata whenua, we often talk about survival – not just in terms of the basic food, shelter, warmth; but also in terms of our cultural integrity; the meaning we give to our lives based on our histories; our protocols; our rituals and relationships which bind us together.
As I understand it, the creation of the pa hi atu is a precious gift passed on down the generations. It is made out of tifa (mother of pearl), sennit lashings, feathers and whalebones.
To obtain all the different parts that make up the pa hi atu, one is required to dive into the deep waters of the sea, avoiding stingrays and sharks along the way, to retrieve the tifa.
As each one of those pa are lovingly designed, cut, crafted and shaped then, we learn about the complex care and nurturing that each family deserves, as they take their unique place in the world.
Just as the pa hi atu stand to represent the special efforts that are required to protect the survival of the people; so too must each family group work together, learning from the traditions passed on, valuing all of the diverse talents and component parts that make up each family.
And another important aspect of this model is the sense of relying on each other to fight off the sharks along the way – including in today’s context, the loan sharks that prey on some of our more vulnerable people.
Another reason I like the Pa Hi Atu concept is that it reminds me of the saying we heard so much during the Whanau Ora hui – if you give a family a fish, you feed them for one day. If you teach them how to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.
What I can see you are wanting to do with the Lauhigano way is to restore your collective roles and responsibilities, to work together to achieve wellbeing as a collective. This is the essence of sustainable development, to remember that the greatest resource that we have is the connection we have with each other.
I know that it is often not easy to meet the demands of both your community and of the agencies as of course we all know that with funding comes multiple accountabilities.
But if I could emphasize one thing today, it would be that you must listen to the beat of your heart; we are; we are; we are. Your heartbeat – the Tokelauan way – must drive your development forward. It must be your most effective resource. It is the strategic direction of your ancestors that has got you where you are today – and so too, the strategic direction that you set will outlive you and your generation.
I know that for many of our own tangata whenua communities, the demands and accountabilities set by Government have sometimes become overwhelming. That is why I am so pleased that you have put so much time aside to be grounded in what it is that Te Lauhigano Tokelau sees as the vision for your future.
Within government, I want to assure that we are doing our best to minimise compliance costs so that you can focus on delivering positive outcomes for your people – rather than marching to the drumbeat set by the Crown.
Later this week I will be launching a Code of Funding Practice to assist government agencies and community organisations to work together to build better funding arrangements. It addresses issues such as managing risk and negotiations, high compliance costs, accountability, shared outcomes, monitoring and reporting. I really hope that the funding agencies you work with, will use this guide to work alongside you to consider how this Code might help you make your work easier and more effective.
As Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector my priority is on how we build trusting and productive relations between government and our communities.
As I looked through your strategic plan, I was struck by the investment you were making in what you called, shared responsibility – the opportunity to shape and formalise partnership arrangements with funding agencies.
In fact, this is a direction that you have been spearheading ever since Te Lauhigano Tokelau was established in 2006 to bridge the perceived gap between government agencies and the Tokelauan community.
Your AGM theme from 2008, “Effective Engagement of Government Funding Agencies for Positive Outcomes” has been a fundamental basis for the relationship you have negotiated with the Department of Internal Affairs ever since. This same desire for good relationships between community and government, led the Department to create and launch its Te Kakeega strategy in June of this year.
I have heard great stories about the positive relationship that your organisation has been forming with the Department and I hear that one of your executive members, Mr Kirifi Kirifi, was elected by the community on to the Department’s Pacific Advisory group.
Beyond the Department of Internal Affairs, I am trying to lift expectations – and indeed performance – about how government engages with communities through the Kia Tutahi Standing Together Relationship Agreement – a high-level aspirational document.
Finally, I return to the significance of Maara Roa – the long garden; and Ukaipo Hiato – the gathering of the people.
One of the things that impressed me in looking at your programme, is the emphasis on an integrated cultural and homework support programme for school students; and the development of structured training and employment programmes, STEPS, for school leavers.
One of the demographic trends that both excites and challenges me is that by 2026, close to 50% of all young people will be either Maori; Pasefika or Asian.
As such the Aotearoa of our future, will be influenced by the growing proportion of young Tokelauan people – and we need to be confident that we have prepared them well to be the leaders of tomorrow. Have we put in place the relationships that will keep them culturally strong, and well connected?
Will they understand the basis of pa hi atu as fundamental to their survival? Will they value the traditions and the stories that keep the spirit vibrant; that can distinguish them from others and build their character?
There is emphasis given throughout your plan to actions and performance targets that will enable progress to be measured, but has there also been thought given to the range of outcomes which might show the difference made in the lives of your families; outcomes set by you for your families and your mokopuna?
Your mission statement places the challenge fairly and squarely within your own hands – to create and add value to the life of Tokelauan persons and their families using innovative and culturally appropriate support services and programmes.
Throughout the plan you have made an amazing effort to cross reference everything you are doing against other key plans and portfolios promoted by Government agencies.
But if I was to leave one final message, it would be to encourage you to strongly support the work being pioneered by your own Council of Elders, Fono ate Taumatua, as the crucial Tokelauan basis for everything else that is done.
And it would be to continue to be inspired by your own heartbeat – to strengthen the networks you have with other Tokelauan communities in Porirua and throughout Aotearoa; and to be proud that Te Lauhigano Tokelau is your pathway forward.
I wish you well over the course of your very exciting programme; I thank you for the honour of opening your AGM; and I look forward to an ongoing dynamic and mutually stimulating relationship with each other, as we work towards achieving our collective aspirations as peoples of the Pacific; as the Government and as the people.
Fakafetai lahi lele.