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Speech: Turia - Porirua Whānau Centre Trust

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister of Whanau Ora

SPEECH NOTES

Porirua Whānau Centre Trust
Friday 9 November 2012; 2pm

[check against delivery]

Talofa lava; kia orana; malo e lelei; fakaalofa lahi atu; malo ni; Talofa; ni sa bula vinaka, tēnā tātou katoa.

I pay my first respects to the members of the Pacific Ministers Forum who have ensured that this opening ceremony is accorded the due respect of the prayers offered up; and to Ngāti Toa as mana whenua.

I want to acknowledge David Isaia, your Chairman; the governance, management and staff of Pacific Health and Social Services Porirua; your Chief Executive Liz Kelly; and all the elders and kaumātua who have blessed this event with your presence.

I was delighted to accept the invitation from Eleni Mason, your General Manager, to share with you this special day.

From what I have read in Mata’ili – a results based strategic plan – you have three key results ahead of you:
• the aspiration for Porirua families to be well;
• the ambition for families to live in happy home environments;
• and the determination that families in Porirua have access to all the services they need.

We might note that there is one word that resonates through all these three areas – and that is the concept of family.

It is a powerful word in any language – family – aiga – whānau.

It is a concept which is central to Pacific values, protocols and cultural knowledge – all which are crucial when working with Pacific families. It brings with it the strength and the force of collective wellbeing – we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.

I am drawn to a Samoan proverb which speaks to me of the enduring roles and responsibilities that we undertake in our love for one another.

Ia ifo le fuiniu i le lapalapa
“As to each coconut leaf belongs a cluster of young nuts,
so each individual belongs to his family”

This proverb reminds me of our connections as whanaunga within the great oceans of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

For tangata whenua we have a similar concept of the family represented as te pa harakeke – the metaphor of our flaxbush. A crucial element of the flax bush is the centre shoot – or what we call te rito – which represents the central importance of children. But importantly, it never stands alone.

Te Pa Harakeke refers to the flax plant as a symbol of whanau and protection. The saying 'Kua tupu te pa harakeke: The flax plant is growing' is an indication that a whanau is secure and protected and therefore able to grow.

I imagine there are other stories across all our Pasifika neighbours that describe the vital relationship between the child and the elders; between those who are the parents; and those who are being raised. On their own, one strand of flax is vulnerable; prone to falling over at the first gust of wind.

But together, all the flax strands are invincible – their strength comes from being plaited together – their confidence comes from understanding they are appreciated for a vast range of qualities and attributes.

Today is a significant day in your evolution, because you are welcoming a new phase of your development, in taking on a commitment to the wider whānau as ultimately the best keepers of your future.

As I understand it the Fanau Centre had deliberately taken on the notion of FANAU – meaning child, or children - as the driving force of your organisation. And you are to be acknowledged for the impressive reputation you have acquired so far as regards your childcare programme.

Today – the name change from F to WH; from fanau to whānau, represents much more than a change of a couple of letters. In embracing whānau you are making a commitment to holistic wellbeing – recognising that the health and wellbeing of an individual are intricately and intimately connected to the group.

This new name reflects more precisely what you actually do – which is to recognise that for positive change to occur in our communities it must be owned and promoted by our families, home by home, whānau by whānau.

It is a vision I wholeheartedly support.

We will only ever be limited if our gaze is restricted to an individual person, or worse yet, an individual condition. A health issue; an educational issue never affects just one person in the household – they are always inter-related.

What you are doing, is working together in the best interests of your people.

I was excited to learn that a couple of months ago you celebrated the coming together of Pacific Health and Social Services with Taeao Fou and Lumanai Samoa.

Through initiatives such as this; the impact of the Waka e Tasi Collective is demonstrating the spirit of the Pacific is thriving amongst the peoples of Porirua. Waka e Tasi as a collective has enabled you to establish relationships with Maraeroa Health Services, Māori Women’s Refuge, while at the same time developing partnerships with Whitireia School of Nursing; the University of Otago School of Medicine and other Pacific providers in the Wellington region.

A particularly innovative approach has been taken in supporting the Tokelau Patient Referral Scheme to provide patients referred from Tokelau with whānau support here in Aotearoa.

In your everyday work, you are setting a benchmark for culturally appropriate health and social services that are for Pacific by Pacific.

In your practice and your approach you are living proof of the Tongan expression:

Täkanga ’etau fohe

Working together in harmony will ensure
success for our community

But what today is about is to remind us all that the ultimate expression of self-determination is not about providers, it is not about services; it is about families doing it for yourself.

You have a proven track record on being there for the people, as wave upon wave of new generations have continued to settle here in Porirua.

I really love the vision that you have laid out in Mata’ili – inspired by the story from the island paradise of Tuvalu; a story which refers to the fishermen who search the sea beyond the reef for the signs that promise a rich harvest for the people that they might grow strong and prosper.

Today, like those fishermen, you at the Pacific Health and Social Services are being bold and brave enough to stand up and search beyond the reef for new horizons. Those horizons are extending the opportunities for all our families to be the very best that they can be.

The image of the fisher, constantly searching the seas, inspires us all to be steadfast, to have optimism and faith, and to put the hard work in to reap the rewards all our families deserve.

I am delighted to officially recognise the Porirua Whānau Centre Trust and to wish all who travel in her waka, every opportunity to grow and prosper.



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