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Speech - Turia: Pacific Community and youth fono

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

Pacific Community and youth fono : Hopes and Dreams - Achieving Dreams brings new challenges

Te Akapuanga Hall, Cannons Creek;Porirua
Thursday 27 October 2011, 5.30pm Speech

(delivered by Ana Bidois on behalf of Minister Turia)

Kia orana! Ni sa bula vanaka. Talofa lava, fakaalofa lahi atu. Taloha ni! Talofa, malo e lelei

Tēnā koutou, otirā tātau me ngā tini āhuatanga o te wā. Huri atu te pō, nau mai te ao

I want to firstly acknowledge Pastor Teremoana Tauira and the Pacific Ministers Forum for blessing us with a strong foundation for us all to be here today.

This is such an exciting moment in your journey, and I am so proud to have been invited along to launch the Maori and Pasifika collective, Waka e Tasi.

This fono has been charged with the mandate of achieving dreams. A tall order at the best of times.

Anyone can have a dream, but what we are celebrating today is the many dreams of the many peoples who have come to call Porirua home.

The speakers before me have laid down the wero.

We have had Elini from Pacific Health Services Porirua; Liz Kelly from the Fanau Centre, and the inspiration of F.E.T.U Youth. We are sorry to hear that Missy (from Maraeroa) and Caroline (from Te Whare Tiaki) could not be here with us tonight.

Each of these groups has come from within you, their journeys are your journeys; their outcomes are ones shared within your communities.

And each of these journeys represents other networks and connections which feed the soul and put fire in the belly. And now we have heard about how you are coming together as a collective to leverage off each other's strengths.

This focus on strengths is going to be important as you progress the community-led initiative in its early stages in your community.

As Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector I have taken enormous interest in the way in which communities have responded to the invitation to lead their own way forward.

When the opportunity came here to the Creek, I talked with officials about the importance of your community-led development initiative being Pacific-led. And I absolutely meant for Pacific by Pacific – that the drumbeat of the many nations, many islands and many villages represented underneath a Pacific sun would come through loud and clear.

I am therefore delighted to hear that at a meeting convened last week by Pacific Health and Socail Services, the Samoan, Cook Island, Tongan, Fijian, Tokelauan, Tuvaluan, and Nuiean communities are now each undergoing a process of selecting their own leaders to represent them on the local leadership group.

This is exactly how it should be – the multiplicity of worldviews being embraced by all.

And so I come to your concept of Waka e Tasi – one waka – to celebrate the collective pursuit of healthy and wellbeing for your people.

The waka has especial significance to me, as uri of Te Awa Tupua – the Whanganui River.

Every year – for the last 22 years – descendants of our iwi have taken to the water for a three week journey along our river from Taumarunui down to Whanganui.

We have a kōrero – ‘kaua e kōrero mō te awa, me kōrero ki tō awa; do not merely speak about your river, go and commune with it’.

And so the Tira Hoe is a time of wānanga, spiritual observance and learning, where descendants paddle down our river from the mountain to the sea.

I was thinking, then, of the Tira Hoe, as I thought about the waka you are embarking upon, in bringing together a collaboration of many minds.

Voyaging in our vaka, is of course about reviving our Polynesian cultural traditions. Our brave voyaging tupuna relied on their knowledge of the sun, the stars, wind, waves, clouds, and wildlife to help them navigate the Pacific Ocean.

Now with any waka, there has to be balance. We can’t have the heaviest of our whanau at the front or first big wave and the waka will capsize.

But balance is also about some of the paddlers taking a rest, and when they resume paddling, ensuring that everyone paddles in unison.

The other key thing with a waka is that it is virtually impossible to travel backwards.

And so I come back to Waka e Tasi – the one waka that we are launching today.

I see on the Governance Board of the Pacific Health and Social Services representation from Rarotonga, Samoa, Niue, Tokelau, Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu and mana whenua.

Each of you has a unique worldview, a distinctive history and wisdom to share with your other partners in this waka. Together your journey is dynamic in its diversity; passionate in the experiences you share as peoples of the Pacific, while also proud in the integrity of your own cultural traditions.

Your waka is now venturing forth into many new areas of enterprise and I am so thrilled to know of the emphasis that you have placed on Family at the Core – the collective wellbeing of your families being uppermost in your minds.

I want to congratulate you all on your courage and your commitment to the collective dream. You have made a strong decision to work as a collective – for Pacific by Pacific – whilst still respecting the essence of all of the nations brought together within your reach.

Finally, I want to note how important our young people are in ensuring our waka stays on course – the course we set for ourselves.

It is absolutely essential that we involve them at every step of our journey, alongside of us, in order that we learn from each other.

I am delighted to have been part of this important moment today, as you chart a new pathway forward, eyes peeled straight ahead, waiting to catch the wind and fly.

As the korero from our Tongan whanaunga tells us, Toki tau ‘a e vaka e”—this ship has arrived.

My aroha to you all in the sacred journeys ahead.

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