Turia: Official Opening of the Kaumatua Village
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister for Housing
Wednesday 2 October
Official Opening of the Kaumatua Village
Ki a Kingi Tuheitia, me te kahui ariki anei nga mihi. Aa, ki te tangata whenua o te rohe nei, nga iwi o te waka o Tainui, tena koutou. Tena koutou te whanau whanui, nga mihi nunui kia koutou katoa.
Firstly I mihi to Te Arataura Tainui Waikato and the Tuwharetoa Trust for your tautoko of this event today.
I acknowledge the presence of the Mayor of Hamilton, Julie Hardaker, tena koe.
It is indeed an honour to follow the korero of Matiu Dickson, the Chair of Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa. Mere Balzer, the Chief Executive of the Runanga and Owen Purcell, the Chair of the Rauawaawa Kaumatua Trust.
Distinguished guests, trustees, whanau, hapu, iwi.
How often do we hear the words - Kia mau ki te kupu o ou matua?
That challenge – to hold fast to the words of our elders – is at once a message of inspiration and a challenge.
It encourages us to have faith in the wisdom of our kaumatua while also learning from their leadership and adhering to time-honoured practices which keep us safe and promote our wellbeing.
Today, we celebrate the richness of our kaumatua in the opening of this global village of excellence.
It is with genuine pleasure that I accepted the invitation to join with you today. For a start, I feel a sense of great pride in what Rauawaawa has been able to do, in advancing your commitment to kaumatua wellbeing.
I have had a great fondness for the work of Rauawaawa in your support and respect for our kaumatua and kuia - to ensure they live in a style that they should be accustomed to. You have consistently shown us that you have the best interests of our kaumatua and kuia at heart in providing the range of support services to meet their needs.
I remember well that day in February 2012, when the relationship between Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa Trust and Rauawaawa Charitable Trust was established through the handing over of the kaumatua complex at Moa Crescent – what we know of as Stage One of this great project.
And I want to pay a particular tribute to Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa and the irrepressible Mere Balzer for the vision they have led in social housing. I want to thank them for placing their faith in Rauawaawa, their passion in the people and their determination to succeed in their own workforce.
I have it on good authority that this Runanga has not only met the most stringent criteria set by the Crown but you have also distinguished yourself as an organisation dedicated to the task of serving the people.
Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa is a pre-approved social housing provider and has established a specialist unit through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to provide services to low and middle-income families.
But long before MBIE, or SHU or any of the other acronyms were born, Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa has been a pioneer in the social housing field. Innovation is their middle name. Whether it be the Rezlab Steel housing frames, a gym to focus on family health or heartfelt endeavours to help with the quake rebuild, you can always count on Mere and Kirikiriroa to be right up there with good ideas.
In these times of increasing fiscal restraint, their vision and their initiatives to provide affordable housing for all our families is a source of personal inspiration to me. And so an important factor for me being here today, is just to say thank you, in person, for the commitment you have always shown to uplift the quality of life for tangata whenua living within this rohe.
What this project represents is it provides a home for all of our elders who love life, and who are actively engaged in their community and whanau. It’s about housing innovation, warm safe housing – and creating an affordable asset. But it is also about wrap around services – meeting the whole needs of the people who live here.
A couple of months ago Minister Smith and I welcomed the blessing of a social housing unit in Flaxmere called the Kaumatua Whare. That initiative was driven by the need to provide affordable rental accommodation for kaumatua on low incomes. It shared much in common with your project - Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Charitable Trust – working alongside of its community to set up the whare.
In another part of the nation, just two weeks ago, Orakei based Kaumatua group Tangata Manaaki Tangata received the Tu Rangatira award at the Public Health Association’s annual conference for its outstanding work in shaping gambling policy. The group was instrumental in achieving a regional sinking lid policy for gambling venues for the whole of Auckland.
And over in
Tauranga Moana, I have been really excited by the emergence
of a regional collective of Maori Land Trusts, the Western
Bay of Plenty Maori Housing Forum and their determination to
take a collective approach to develop Maori land for the
benefit of their people.
In March last year, ten kaumatua moved into new homes located within the Mangatawa Papakainga.
A trustee of Mangatawa Papamoa Blocks Inc., Victoria Kingi negotiated the funding, finance and delivery to build ten units for kaumatua and has gone on to assist four other local land trusts in the planning and funding of their papakainga projects this year.
They are now constructing the next twenty homes for low-income families and have established a Toolkit (a step by step guide to develop papakainga structure plans) and hold monthly papakainga workshops to help build trustee capability.
I wanted to share these three other initiatives in Flaxmere, Orakei and Mangatawa as an example of the type of partnerships involving kaumatua across the land.
In this respect I would encourage all the town planners, the architects and designers, our local authorities and our health boards to take a look around – and work with our kaumatua and kuia in future-proofing our communities. Rely on their leadership. Listen to their wisdom.
Finally, I want to thank everyone here for the progress you are making in advancing home ownership, social and affordable housing and warm and healthy housing for tangata whenua and Pasefika peoples.
The formal relationship that the Runanga has established with Rauawaawa is just one feature, albeit a significant one, of the innovative practice being developed here in Waikato Tainui.
I am told there is another initiative literally just around the corner. I’m referring of course to the potential partnership between Waikato Tainui and Kirikiriroa on the Poet’s Corner site. I can’t wait to learn more about your progress.
As your Associate Minister for Housing, I am committed towards ensuring the state invests in better housing that enables the development of whanau, hapu and iwi.
A key theme in pursuing this goal is capacity and capability building supporting tangata whenua housing providers to develop and implement their own solutions. As part of this approach, I want to see tangata whenua participation in decision-making, partnerships with whanau, hapu and iwi, support for developing the tangata whenua workforce and promotion of Maori housing provider capacity and capability.
These are exciting times. You will all know I am devoted to the approach we call Whanau Ora. What this project demonstrates to me is the significance of good housing to a vision of positive outcomes for our whanau.
What you are doing here is constructing Whanau Ora as an integral part of the Kaumatua Home Build. The strength of your whanau will derive from the integrity of the homes you are building and the community you are creating in this kaumatua complex.
I congratulate you all for a wonderful aspiration and an even more exciting transformation in action given life through the Kaumatua Village.