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Cultural Respect is the Key to Communication Says Flavell

Te Ururoa Flavell
MP for Waiariki
Friday 23rd November 2012

Cultural Respect is the Key to Communication Says Flavell

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki is challenging politicians to watch the language that they use in public settings.

“Our kuia and kaumātua have always schooled us in the language of respect, whether we are in formal marae settings or in any place where words said in haste may be misinterpreted,” said Mr Flavell.

“As politicians we all know what it’s like to be in the firing range of language best unspoken,” said Mr Flavell. “But we have a moral and ethical obligation to think about the impacts of what we say and how we say it whenever we are in the public ear.”

The latest political slip was a statement made by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce in his response to the claims of the Tertiary Education Union about funding cuts to WelTec. Mr Joyce is reported as saying “They’ve really gone off the reservation today. That’s poor.”

“The Māori Party has been fielding concerns from constituents about the use of a phrase which is offensive to American First Nations” said Te Ururoa.

“The origin of this term dates back to the late 1800s when many native American tribes were relocated from their ancestral homes to parcels of land ‘reserved’ for their inhabitation. The policy was enforced by the United States Army to force tribes to be restricted to these reservations. The pursuit of tribes led to a number of large scale massacres and wars against the native American people.”

“Contemporary use of the concept of ‘off the reservation’ means to slam people who are thinking differently or being crazy – it’s hardly a respectful attitude anyway.”

“Regardless of his intentions or the context of his remarks, it is a salutary lesson to all politicians to be careful of the consequences of inflammatory remarks,” said Mr Flavell.

“The Māori Party has always promoted cultural competency as a means of increasing awareness of cultural diversity and understanding the importance of functioning effectively and respectfully with all peoples.”

“We all need to think before we speak and whether it was Hutt Valley youth or union organisers that Mr Joyce was directing his comments at, there was a better way to explain why level one and two student foundation courses have been cut.”

“Speaking of which, the Māori Party would like to know exactly what the rationale could be for wiping basic pre-training courses when we have so many young people currently missing in the system – missing out on education, employment or training.”


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