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Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement

Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement –

Te Ururoa Flavell MP for Waiariki

29 January 2013; 5.40pm

Mr Speaker, it is good to be back.

First, because our capital city is looking absolutely beautiful today. As Wellington people say, you can’t beat Te Whanganui a Tara on a good day.

And it’s wonderful that the golden weather has arrived in time for one of the world’s great sporting parties, the Wellington Sevens.

We are going to see some fabulous creativity, on and off the field. We are going to see people cheering and singing and strutting their stuff. It’s going to be a massive celebration as well as a fierce competition. If only we could borrow some of that spirit for this Chamber for the rest of the year.

The second reason it is good to be back is because it means an end to the silly season of commentators interviewing themselves about politics.

As I read the summaries of 2012 and the forecasts for 2013, I was struck again and again by how many journalists and commentators and bloggers find it difficult to describe or categorise the Maori Party.

Are we left, are we right, are we in the centre?

I suspect that he will not thank me for this, but David Farrar at Curiablog is the only commentator who gets it consistently right. Whenever he analyses the potential coalition outcomes of a new political poll, he notes that “The Maori Party is not shown as part of the centre-right or centre-left.”


The Maori Party is not about labels that have been imported from other political traditions. We have our own kaupapa.

And I know that can make it difficult for mainstream commentators to understand what we’re on about, or to explain it succinctly and accurately to their readers.

We are – proudly - different from any other party in this House.

We are not from the ‘right’ which thinks that politics is all about smaller government allowing big business to create wealth that then magically trickles down to everybody else.

We are not from the ‘left’ which thinks that it is all about bigger government generously sharing some magically appearing wealth.

We are not from the ‘centre’, which thinks it is about a sprinkling of magical common sense.

We come from a different tradition, one that starts by thinking about relationships.

Relationships between people.

Relationships between people and the natural environment.

Relationships between the past, the present and the future.

Relationships are not about theories. Relationships are about practices.

Relationships are about how we talk together, and work together, and create things together, so that together we can pass on something better to our mokopuna. Relationships are what the Treaty of Waitangi is all about.

We come from a tradition that has survived the blind efforts of previous governments – governments of the left and the right, governments that could be brutal or merely paternalistic – governments that tried to eliminate differences, to impose a single, standard way of thinking and living.

We come from a tradition that knows what it takes to emerge from sheer survival, to standing up and asserting our role in this world on our terms.

We are honoured to carry forward the tradition of great New Zealanders such as James Carroll and Apirana Ngata and Matiu Rata.

It is a tradition carried forward by Pita Sharples whose visionary work in Maori language education and kapa haka and prison reform is paying real dividends today.

It is a tradition carried forward by Tariana Turia, whose courage and commitment to upholding the actual meaning of the Treaty of Waitangi inspired a new generation of political action.

This is what the Maori Party is about.

It is about relationships and it is about resilience.

We will continue to work with any party on policies that can deliver real progress for real people. Not theories, not politics, but people.

Sometimes it will be progress measured in inches, and sometimes – just occasionally - it will be measured in miles. I acknowledge especially the transformational progress being made by the Minister for Treaty Negotiations.

That is why the real reason it is good to be back here today, is because we’ve got a lot to do. There are a lot of people who need this Parliament, and this Government, to do more, better, faster: not just to provide “stable government in difficult times”.

We know about difficult times. We’ve been living in them for two hundred years.

And we want progress, not stability.

Back in 2008 the Maori Party decided that we could make better progress by being at the table in a National-led government.

We knew that it would have been much easier politically to be on the outside making dramatic hand gestures. That was an option.

But neither Tariana nor Pita nor myself got into politics because we thought it would be easy. We got into it because we wanted to make real progress for real people.

And we are, through Whanau Ora and insulating homes and tataiako and tackling rheumatic fever.

Is the progress fast enough or far enough?

No, and it never will be. We are hungry and we are impatient, and our eyes remain firmly on the horizon where our dreams lie.

Where every family is healthy and strong, where every child is loved, where every person is using their talents and skills to the utmost.

Not just Maori New Zealanders, but every family, every child, every person.

Because as a party, we naturally celebrate diversity as a sign of strength not weakness.

We know that Tainui is different from Ngati Kahungunu is different from Kai Tahu is different from Samoan or Tongan or Chinese or Indian New Zealanders, and on and on and on.

We know that in our bones, because that is the experience from which we spring.

And it is why our Party is not - emphatically not - an ‘ethnic’ party. We are a party of kaupapa and tikanga.

Our kaupapa is a gift open to everyone in Aotearoa – tangata whenua and tangata tiriti,

rich and poor, men and women, young and old,

white, brown, black or sunburned,

tattooed, pierced or blue-rinsed,

it doesn’t matter to me.

Our kaupapa is a gift that is open to everyone who knows that “one size fits all” solutions just don’t work, because we come in all different sizes and shapes and colours.

It is a gift that is open to everyone who knows that healthy families – whanau ora! – are the first measure of successful communities.

Our kaupapa is a gift that is open to everyone who knows that we must all go forward together, or we surely will not go forward at all.

It is good to be back. Let’s get to work.


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