Breakfast launch of Te Ara Ha Ora
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister Health
Thursday 24 October 2013
Breakfast launch of the National Maori Tobacco Control Leadership Service
Te Ara Ha Ora – Pathway to the breath of life for all
Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland
The idea of an early morning ceremony derives of course from our traditional, well-loved and time-honoured rituals.
Te Ta i te Kawa – to literally strike the pillars of the house with a branch of leaves – or Te Hiki i te Tapu – the lifting of the tapu – is a sacred process we follow in opening our whare – to free it of restrictions and make the pathway safe for all those who follow.
And so it is entirely appropriate that we launch this new pathway in the new light of the day.
For what we are doing is restoring to us all the state of purity; the essence of our natural health and wellbeing as it was prior to the entry of tobacco into our land and our lives.
I think it is timely to reiterate a stark statement of fact written into the Public Health Association’s submission to the 2009 Maori Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa. I quote from that submission:
The problems Maori face with tobacco in the 21st century have their origins in the colonisation of New Zealand. The use of tobacco as a trade good, including its use as part of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, has set the stage for the current situation.
We note that as far back as the beginning of the 20th century, Dr Maui Pomare, the first Maori doctor, expressed concern about the effects of tobacco on Māori health. However, such concerns were marginalised or ignored until recently.
Our history with nicotine addiction and tobacco harm is now well known. There was no tobacco here prior to colonisation. At that time tobacco products became a common trade item by early European explorers for land, for kumara, for wood, for flax and ultimately as a reward in exchange of a signature on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Barely ten years after the early settlers had set foot visiting physicians reported constant smoking by Maori.
Arguably, of all the unethical transactions conducted at the time, the establishment of a fatally addictive product within our way of life was extremely destructive.
The rest of course, is history. Our history. A history in which tobacco-related mortality and morbidity amongst tangata whenua has taken the lives of far too many loved ones.
If ever there was a time for a new pathway, it is now.
Today then, we truly are celebrating a new start – Te Ara Ha Ora.
Te Ara Ha Ora has been established by Hapai te Hauora Tapui in partnership with Action on Smoking and Health with three broad branches of work:
· Te Whainga Tuatahi: Whakawhanaungatanga – building relationships
· Te Whainga Tuarua: Nga whakamarama o te tino kaupapa – promoting the key message
· Te Whainga Tuatoru – te puna rangahau: use of evidence.
While we anticipate the pathways ahead, I want to also think about how we have come to this point in the first place. As with any new road, we never just wake up and find the tarseal laid, the road markings painted, the road-signs in place.
And so I want to thank and acknowledge all of those who have worked tirelessly in the tobacco control sector for so many years.
I want to also mention those many strong leaders who have forged a pathway for us all towards a life free of tobacco.
Those kaikorero who have used the privilege of the pae to promote a tobacco free message. Those marae who have been proud to be smokefree. Those hauora providers who have championed initiatives to assist their whanau to quit and stay strong.
I am thinking too of our tupuna who took a stand on the broadest aspirations of health and wellbeing; on Whanau Ora; and our right to thrive and survive.
We can be proud of the determination of so many amongst us today, who have worked hard to eliminate tobacco from the lives of our whanau, hapu and iwi.
We must draw on all of their strength in growing the leadership necessary to achieve a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. To achieve our goal, we must strengthen the collaboration across our sectors; and maintain the highest quality of communication.
Many of you may have attended the Maori Tobacco Intelligence Summit that was held at Te Papa in May 2009; or participated in the Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry. You might also recall that recommendation 37 of that inquiry specifically challenged Government to include Maori in all tobacco control planning and policy development.
From those two sources, Te Ora, the Maori Medical Practitioner’s Association, developed Te Ara Hiringa: strategic plan for the National Maori Tobacco Control Service 2011-2016.
A key theme throughout Te Ara Hiringa was the need for greater effort to reduce tobacco use, as well as to improve leadership, communication and action to address tobacco related harm amongst tangata whenua.
I am hopeful today, that this new national Maori tobacco control service will help to advance progress in all of these areas.
Finally, in your pathway ahead, I would encourage you to consider the broadest range of strategies and approaches to ensure you are truly reaching all of our whanau and their diverse needs.
We are not just talking about an express motorway that all must travel.
We need to also consider detours and diversions; cycle-ways and country roads – this is a pathway to the future that must be built so carefully and comprehensively that it can truly reach every whanau. Only through Whanau Ora will we be able to reach all whanau.
Our pathway must include pregnant women; our rangatahi; it must be for long-term smokers; for those for whom conventional quitting strategies have passed them by.
And we can only do that, if we build the relationships and create connections with providers, with communities and with whanau as the central platform for our future.
I wish everyone involved in Te Ara Ha Ora the brightest of futures and am so proud to be part of this very significant launch.