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Puao te Atatū : A New Dawn Breaks


Hon Tariana Turia
Minister of Whanau Ora

Puao te Atatū : A New Dawn Breaks

Whānau Ora Planning Workshop

Thursday 22 November 2012; 10am


Tēnā tātou katoa. Talofa lava, kia orana, malo e lelei, fakaalofa lahi atu, bula vinaka, taloha ni, fakatalofa atu, tēnā tātou katoa.

It is great to have you here, Pa Ariki and I want to mihi to Ta Meihana (Durie) for his absolute vision and commitment to Whānau Ora. It is a dream that all of us have had that he was able to make a reality.

I am pleased to acknowledge those who were appointed to the Governance Group – Doug, Nancy and Rob, Regional Leadership Groups; provider collectives; navigators; champions for your belief in whānau capability and whānau potential.

And I mihi to you all for your work in doing everything that you can, in the best interests of our whānau.

Thank you for coming today to share with us, and to direct us to a new future. I think it is important to say that from the outset. Governments come and go - but we will never know how stable Whānau Ora is unless you and I stay true to that vision.


Peseta Betty Sio’s t-shirt actually said it all: “My aiga; my kāinga, Whānau Ora is amazing - just the way we are”. Just the way we are – strong, capable, resilient and self-managing

Everything we do – is about our survival as a people. And I remember when the Māori Party was starting and Matua Whatarangi Winiata encouraged us to believe that our job was to ensure the survival of our people and to do whatever it takes.

I want to thank you Matua for setting our vision – and I am proud to say that although it has had its moments, we have taken every opportunity including sitting at the table in what I can only think as the most difficult role – and we have done that because of our commitment for working alongside whānau.

Everything we do is about our survival.

This is not about a culture that is static – this is about taking all of our strengths and our values into a proud, new future for us all.

I remember Papali’i Seiuli Siaosi saying: “I am my family. My family are me.” It is similar to a saying where I come from “Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au. I am the river, and the river is me”.

I want to share a statement from His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, the Samoan Head of State because it is absolutely pertinent to our hui:

“I am not an individual. I am an integral part of the cosmos. I share divinity with my ancestors, the land, the seas, and the skies. I am not an individual, because I share by tofi (an inheritance) with my family, my village, and my nation. I belong to my family, and my family belongs to me. I belong to my nation, and my nation belongs to me. This is the essence of my belonging”.

I am excited by these statements because they speak of belonging, connection, engagement, of empowerment, and inclusiveness but more importantly they speak about the essence of who we are as collective people.

For each and every one of you who are in attendance today – they are also a challenge when we are working with our whānau in their diverse situations.

As I thought about what you will share today my mind was instantly transported back to the many Maori hui that have been held over the years, which were in essence, focused on the same outcome as we seek today.

We are here to dream of a better future, and connect that future with the legacy left to us by our ancestors. You are here to advance your own development, and to view these issues using your own cultural perspectives.

It is when we can look into the future, and map a pathway forward that fits within our values, our beliefs, and our respective cultures that we can truly start to make progress on our journey towards wellbeing.

I am reminded of a saying by my beloved cousin, the late Rangitihi Tahuparae:

Mai i te urunga o Ngai Tāua te iwi Māori ki roto i ngā kāwai mātauranga ō Tauiwi, ina, honotia te peka Māori ki te rākau rāwaho, he rerekē tōna hua me te rongo ō tōna kiko, he kawa.

Kāti, tēnei te whakahoki ki ngā paiaka ā kui mā, ā koro mā.

Let us return to our origins. Since the time we as Maori were immersed in the knowledge streams of tauiwi we have become like a branch, grafted to a foreign tree, producing fruit of a different quality and somewhat unpalatable. It is time we returned to the rootstock of our ancestors.

I believe as Pasifika nations you share many of the values that we do as tangata whenua.

We have lived a similar history - of people thinking they know what is best for us, and we have similar aspirations – that we want to do for ourselves, and to have healthy, happy whānau.

My cousin Tahu talked about the concept of the rākau, or the tree – and it is meaningful to me, because it fits within my understanding of the world. It may fit for you too, or you may have other ways of expressing your own unique body of knowledge, and your own different cultural perspectives.

The point is, however, that we cannot continue to allow others to graft their ideas on to us. The fruit will never be as sweet as it once was, unless we rid ourselves of the many layers and layers of grafted ideas, and return to our roots, the roots that our ancestors left for us to flourish in.

I remember, at the onset of Whanau Ora, Judge Ida Malosi told me that the concept of Whanau Ora was about restoring the concept of a living village. It was about reviving that shared responsibility and collective way of living, and returning to the way that we once used to live. It takes a village to raise a child, and to support aiga.

Now is the time to think about that village, and what it means to apply the values of your ancestors in a contemporary context. Now is the time to restore traditional concepts of wellbeing to our development path, and to strengthen our families and communities here within Aotearoa.

Although we all share similar stories, we know that there are distinctive cultures within in this room, and each of you will have your own values and views and they are all absolutely valid.

The challenge for us is to look at growing solutions within each of the nations represented here, while also working together as Pacific nations, as whānau, hapū and iwi to advance our aspirations, without undermining the distinct cultural values that each of us hold dear.

It is not for me to tell you what it looks like, or how you are going to get there. It is about the ability for all of us share and dream amongst ourselves. To come up with our own unique solutions, and to create and foster an environment where those solutions can be applied, while ensuring that each thread of each culture is maintained with integrity.

My role, and the role of Government, however, is to support you as best we can, in the pursuit of your aspirations and however you may wish to achieve them.

I have to say I have been so excited by the momentum our Pacific collectives have demonstrated in taking up the opportunities of Whanau Ora – knowing that wellbeing of your families is absolutely fundamental to your physical, mental, social and spiritual health.

I want to share a statement that Alfred Ngaro made at the Whanau Ora hui that was held in Auckland last year. It about each and every one of us, in our search for paradise across Te Moana nui a Kiwa.

Mou te ko mou te here; kia pukuru o vaevae kai mokorā o kakī: Hold on to your heritage, stand tall on your feet to face the challenges ahead of you.

Yesterday, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait asked us to see ourselves as nation-builders – together taking up the responsibility to create our future. I think that is a really strong message because we are the ones that can lead us into the future unity through diversity

There was much talk also of our glorious past – Matua Whāngai, Tū Tangata, Puao-te-ata-tū – and of course kōhanga reo – which can only be described as a unique and distinctive movement of mobilising the people which we must do once more.

We must reflect on the words in that historic 1986 report (Puao te ata tū): “To redress the imbalances will require concerted action from all agencies involved-central and local government, the business community, Maoridom and the community at large. We make recommendations for a comprehensive approach accordingly. Our problems of cultural imperialism, deprivation and alienation mean that we cannot afford to wait longer…. We and our people hope that its strengths, diversity and ingenuity will combine with the Department (of Social Welfare) in mutual goodwill to herald a new dawn: PUAO-TE-ATA-TŪ”.

1986 – that’s a long time to wait until today. Inevitably we ask why did we have to wait?

And I want us to remember that Whānau Ora is not a Government concept. It belongs to each and every one of us. We have lived Whānau Ora.

One of the things that has worried me is the notion that we need money to make Whānau Ora happen – of course we need investment in capacity, we need investment in our potential. And if it is good enough for the government to support Social Sector Trials and other such project; then they can invest in our families.

I want us all to reflect that when people judge our families, there is a context for their poverty, their pōharatanga – we know it has a context and we must not fall into the same trap of blaming our own.

I resent it when people talk about our families as being benefit dependent – or focusing on all the raru within our families.

What else can we expect when we know the state has had a major role in contributing to this situation?

But we should not leave it there and blame the state. We must understand the context – and not judge our families.

Our people have shown an enormous spirit of generosity – they are prepared to make that promise again – this is our time – puao te ata tū - the beginning of new opportunities for our families.

Professor Sir Mason Durie located Whānau Ora as part of a wider agenda of our development: he talked about inter-generational transfer; search for self-determination; multi-dimensional transformation. And I was thinking as he talked yesterday and the list of things for our whānau to be strong, to be capable, to be resilient.

And I have been thinking about our experience of some schools who struggle to meet the needs of our children. I believe we need to transform our schools, our principals, our teachers to believe in the power and potential of whānau to do for themselves.

In our organisations we also need to transform.

Transformation starts with ourselves. We need to transform our own thinking and remember where our thinking came from.

We must be firm that this is not something created in Wellington.

It is in many ways something that we are already doing - in Tri-Māori and Matatini; it is in the Pasifika Festival; it is in the Waikato-Tainui Games; the Tira Hoe Waka.

It is in our kōhanga; our kura, whare wānanga – so many things that are a big part of our lives.

We must never forget that the majority of our people are living Whānau Ora daily and they are doing alright.

All of you here today - are dealing with those who are alienated; those who are dispossessed.

There are those who are the families who need to be revitalised, give them the self-belief that they can do.

Charmeyne Te Nana-Williams yesterday shared with us a story of the Waitakere Netball Association establishing mobility parks closer to the courts; and moving games to the front courts to allow whānau who face mobility issues to watch their children’s teams play – it doesn’t have to be complex.

It doesn’t take rocket science – to know there are simple things we can do.

One of the things that we can do – as they are doing in Tainui, and in Tai Tokerau right now - is to make all of our marae inclusive. If we are going to talk about inclusion, then we should start with our marae and make sure that everyone can access our places of gathering.

Whānau Ora is in all our aunts, uncles, cousins. I remember Peseta Betty Sio’s kōrero – of her family coming out from Samoa. The relatives – eighteen of them at that time - lived together, banked their money and together pooled their funds to build their homes, building their own church; to create their own village, family by family. I mihi to them for their example.

I heard a very similar story from Taumarunui. A whānau wanted to be housed. They didn’t think they could ever achieve this – and then it came to them. The families decided they would pool their smoking money into one bank account. Over the next six years, essentially the savings from that terrible habit would help to provide for their housing aspirations.

These are amazing actions of Whānau Ora because it tells us we are prepared to ensure that every one of our families are able to live on their own.

That is what we have lost – nowadays we talk about family as Mum, dad and the kids. We need to see it in the wider context – of our greater whānau.

We have heard about the whānau business and economic development. We’ve heard about the Maori Women’s Welfare league. And we’ve heard about Ngāti Porou rugby. We got criticized for the most amazing whānau day when Ngāti Porou played Raukawa – yet this was about people coming together, connecting.

One of the places I go to which models Whānau Ora is a pākehā school in Hastings – Hastings Intermediate School. The principal of that school is a businessman who has transformed a decile one school into an amazing site of transformation.

He has believed in his staff; believed in their potential for transformation.

And he has believed that every child in the school is of value. It is quite something else to see all 555 children stand up to do the haka. Their leadership group is an amazing collective of Māori, Pacific, Pākehā – those kids are going to be amazing leaders. We should expect every school to value our kids; to be amazing. It is a school that could make a huge difference if we could transport that model.

We know what it is –ORA – but you know in the dictionary that is a word which has 359 definitions and don’t we know that.

I want to endorse what Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi has said– we do not accept failure. We are about harnessing potential – we are Opportunity Brokers. Nothing or no-one must detract us from that path. That is how each of us must see ourselves - as opportunity brokers- there to create a new future for our families. We have to see ourselves in quite a different way.

All of us have the greatest opportunity to build the critical mass – let’s use that.

I really loved Aroha Campbell’s kōrero yesterday when she showed us how to create transformation our way – kia mau ki te whenua, whakamahia te whenua, hei painga mo ngā uri whakatipuranga.

From a small block of land with just ten people attending the annual general meeting – the whānau has moved in leaps and bounds forward to take control of their own destiny. They didn’t take their divided and reinvested in themselves. And today we saw all of the things they are going to do for themselves without any interference or involvement from Government – that is what Whānau Ora about.

Sam Utai reminds us not to be defined by others. Whānau Ora is located in the context of Niue; owned and determined by fa’a Samoa. I was thinking as you talked Sam that is time to jump off the skateboard and into the driving seat of the best BMW you can find!

We also have to remember the environment in which Whānau Ora has been introduced has been a time of absolute turmoil. Whānau Ora has begun in a time of the Canterbury earthquakes, the Rena disaster, global financial crisis, Pike River, loss of confidence in privacy of personal information.

And yet for our whānau their lives are just going on. They tell me, they have been in these situation forever and our whānau survive They continue to do what they have always done.

And yet out of the crisis Whānau Ora has helped people to survive and to thrive – we have seen the expression of manaakitanga from across the motu; protecting our environment as tangata tiaki – we have seen the reciprocity that we display; the way we think collectively – all of those things

We must understand there is always a context. As I think over all that Aotearoa has been through over the last two years – Māori and Pasifika peoples have told me that really there is nothing new. We have always been up for the challenge – ready to apply ourselves to whatever faces us.

To build whānau capability - which is the direction that we hope you will give serious consideration to - we must believe it ourselves.

I too often hear people say that we have families who have so many issues that they won’t see the light for the trees. We still have a moral obligation to do everything we can and we must.

Somebody said yesterday we must bed Whānau Ora into agency Statements of Intent; Chief Executive performance agreements; cross-departmental budgets. These are amazing ideas – and I wish that it was easy to do that – I wish this kōrero could go straight to all of the Ministers to enable that to happen.

And of course it is not ‘what the departments can spare for Whānau Ora’ but really how the Government can see ‘how Whānau Ora will help us to achieve efficiencies; to make progress in a way that we have never had the opportunity to do before. If we keep doing what we have always done, we will get more of the same.

If we can get the government to know that Whānau Ora can transform this nation, we know that the nation will be in a good state.

We know that we can do this– that we can put things at the grassroots.

I want to finish by saying, we have an absolute responsibility to respond and support our families in the best way that we know how.

What I hope is that when you start talking about an structure that you will give serious consideration to its function more than its form.

We have to make this work – this is the only chance we will get.

We have to all put our hands to the till – to put aside our differences and to focus on the big picture – what it is to move forward.

I ask those of you who have come to the hui with your minds already made up to focus on positively what can unite us rather than what divides.

This is about our whanau - we have to make it work.

Tena tatou katoa.
ends
.

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