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Tariana Turia: Reply to Prime Minister’s Statement 2013

Reply to Prime Minister’s Statement 2013

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party
Tuesday - 29 January 2013 - 3.20pm

There must surely be some quintessential concepts in any State of the Nation address for Aotearoa.

Lest we forget – Te Tiriti o Waitangi provides us with the constitutional pou upon which any discussion of nationhood can emerge.

The contribution of iwi entrepreneurship - Maori-owned tourism, fisheries, agriculture, forestry and other industries -estimated to be worth up to $39 billion – is hugely important towards both the domestic economy and enhancing our profile in the global market.

And we would and do challenge the Government that it will only be possible to delivering better public services when our agencies are culturally competent; when our Ministries take the effort to respond to and to relate to all the diverse populations that live in this land – and when we see institutional racism eradicated.

We cannot abide the political silencing of difference – we need to move beyond the bland – the categorisation of ‘vulnerable children’; generic references to ‘groups which have historically under-performed’.

Let us name ourselves – identify our unique edge – share our commonalities while at the same time taking pride in the essence of who we are.

We have a waiata from home, which begins, “Kia uiuia mai, na wai koe, maau e kii atu, e tirohia atu ngā ngaru e aki ana ki Waipuna, ki te Matapihi, Putiki-Wharanui, ko Ngati Tupoho”.

It asks the question – where do we belong – and the waiata answers it by saying, look yonder at the waves surging towards Waipuna, Matapihi and Putiki Wharanui because there resides the descendants of Tupoho.

The waiata traces over maunga and puke, over waters, the pathway along te awa tupua, the lands and sacred spaces which mark our rohe, nga hapu o Whanganui.

It is but one of many of our tribal treasures that are central to indigenous knowledge.

Our waiata, our tatai (our genealogies), our korero are a distinctive body of knowledge that can be instrumental in shaping a future Aotearoa which is inclusive of all.

The future Aotearoa that the Maori Party strives for, cannot be bland; it cannot be generic – the browning of our nation demands bold action if we want to see success shared by all.

I want to stress from the onset – tangata whenua are not the prize in a grand political lottery.

Over the last week we have witnessed various political parties eyeing up the Maori vote and swooping in for the kill.

What they do not realise is that morehu no longer depend on politicians or individuals to tell them how to vote.

We oppose any form of electoral opportunism which targets Maori for polling gain.

Our interest is in survival of tangata whenua.

How do we maximise the contribution that we can make to the survival of Maori as a people?

And I want to remind us, that Maori were all alone on these islands for hundreds of years. We shaped our own world view. We grew. And we survived colonisation.

Against that history, the media’s compulsive fascination in predicting the death of the Maori Party after a mere nine years in existence, seems somewhat premature.

And so I place on record our determination to survive – as a party – as a movement – and as a people.

Over 157 years ago, physician and politician Dr Isaac Featherson said it was the solemn duty of all Europeans to ‘smooth down the dying pillow of the Maori race’.

The view of the day was that indigenous peoples would not survive European conquest and disease – and indeed history would reveal the Maori population was decimated – but, it was not extinguished and never will be.

And so we come today, to 2013, to the on-going challenge for us all about how to best protect, preserve and achieve the survival of Maori as a people; knowing as we do now, that what is good for Maori will be good for the nation.

We have always known we have to sit ourselves at the seat of power to be the most powerful advocates for our people that we can be.

And this is where I return to a key concept in the Prime Minister’s address – the vital importance of innovation.

But the innovation we talk of is not only that of science funding; of revered experts or a high-tech institute.

We are talking social innovation. We are talking Whanau Ora.

The German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, reminds us of the inevitable resistance that many of our most revolutionary ideas have received – whether it be giving women the vote, people being trusted to drive cars at high speed, or the concept of kindergartens. He said,

“Every truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”.

Some in this House are still at the first stage – but for thousands of New Zealanders they speak with great enthusiasm about the process of transformation that is being experienced with Whanau Ora. The restoration of pride and self-belief that we can do, and we can be.

At the end of last year the Press carried a story of one whānau, extending to more than one hundred members in the upper South Island, who received the meagre amount of $5000 from the Whanau Innovation, Integration and Engagement fund. Yet with that fund they developed a plan to reduce their debt, and create business opportunities.

They developed a te reo based language and financial literacy and numeracy programme, He Pataka Reo Matua.

But most important of all – it gave the families a chance to dream. It was the opportunity to move from worrying about how to pay the power bill, to actually planning what they want for their families ten years from now. Our survival will come when we believe we will.

Our greatest work is in standing up for what Piriwiritua fought for. The Kawenata that he signed up to with Michael Joseph Savage is as relevant today as it was back then. No longer can politicians act as if all roads lead to Ratana – or to Maori or indeed to Pasifika peoples – making false promises with no regard for follow-through.

Our answers lie within ourselves; and our solutions will be most enduring when they are owned and driven by our own.

And so the Maori Party is very clear about survival on all fronts – and what it will take.

We know that the expression of the kaupapa and tikanga that has sustained us for hundreds of years will contribute to the survival strategy.

Our focus is on pursuing these kaupapa in five broad areas:

• Whanau Ora – including building healthy whānau resilience through addressing poverty and increasing educational achievement;
• Jobs, training and economic development

• Upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi

• Reducing the social hazards of alcohol, drugs, gambling and tobacco

• And taking up our responsibilities as tangata tiaki – whether it be on water or in land, living by a philosophy of sustainable development.

We need intelligent leadership and we need bravery both within our whanau and across every sphere of influence.

Our quest as a political movement is to continue to pay it forward – to act with conviction, knowing our basis for growth and stability is assured in our own histories, our kaupapa and tikanga; and in restoring the essence of all people to define their own realities.

We can have a new start for Aotearoa – and I believe the Government’s willingness to enter into a Relationship Accord with the Maori Party in 2008 and to recommit to that relationship in 2011 is recognition of their public willingness to see the Maori voice as valid, credible and vital to the future of all New Zealanders.

ENDS

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