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Turia: Pasefika Proud Fono, Otago Museum, Dunedin 2014

Tariana Turia

10 MAY, 2014

Pasefika Proud Fono, Otago Museum, Dunedin 2014

Talofa lava, Kia ora, Fakalofa lahi atu, Aloha, Ni sa bula, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Taloha ni, Halo olaketa.

I am so pleased to be here tonight to celebrate with you the diversity, the resilience and the splendour of tagata o te moana nui, the peoples of the Pacific.

Thank you Reverend Tokerau Joseph for opening this fono with your blessing for our day.

As we gathered together in silence, I thought of a Native American verse, which in less than twenty words challenges us to focus on what we know to be right:

Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.

Tonight then, is a celebration of many people and many things – but most of all it is a recognition of the importance you have placed on listening – listening to Pasifika voices; listening to the heart, the soul and the silence in their stories.

I want to acknowledge:

• Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira, Chair of the Pacific Advisory Group; and other members of the PAG here tonight – Peseta Betty Sio and Everdina Fuli

• Friends, family, ministers of the faith, community leaders and the champions of change that all of you here represent.

It is so good to see all of you here; and to feel the warmth; the strength and passion of the people gathered in the spirit of Pasefika Pride.

I want to explore a bit further this concept of listening to the wind. There is a Samoan phrase – ‘sa’ili matagi’ – which literally means to go in search of the wind.

It comes from the calling to search out the wind currents that will take you directly to where food and material resources are found – to feed and care for your family.

Sa’ili matagi’ also takes up a meaning of travelling far on a pathway to search out a better life.

The migrations of the 1950s and 1960s were in a sense, a demonstration of ‘sa’ili matagi’. I believe New Zealand needs to understand the difficulty of leaving the safety of our homelands and having to survive and walk in two worlds. You came here for a better life for your children and have made huge sacrifice to do so.

But while for many migrations, the destination was the shores of Aotearoa, for peoples of Pasifika home is never far away.

For the values, the truth and principles that your people brought with you, remain central to the way you see the world. They are values that have been crafted and constructed over centuries; created generation by generation to establish a pathway into our future.

That is what I love about the promise of Nga vaka o kaiga tapu:

It reminds us that the winds of change you have followed lead to outcomes written already by the legacy you inherit from your ancestors.

Nga vaka o kaiga tapu – literally the sailing vessels of sacred families – is the story of multiple journeys of discovery. It contains the rich narrative of concepts and values that define strong families across the Pacific.

What the framework tells us is that Pasefika pride is intimately wrapped in a celebration of Pasefika knowledge; it is driven by a focus on wellbeing as defined and understood by Pasefika peoples.

At its essence, the framework encourages us to fall in love with ourselves – to value the collective leadership, knowledge and strategies of Pasefika peoples as they travel into their future.

It is very appropriate that this fono is being held here in the Otago Museum. The Museum’s Pacific collections are renowned for their national and international significance.

The items contained there - cultural treasures and everyday items- speak with a vivid sense of life and power.

If time allows, I hope to cast my eyes on the beautiful red and yellow feathered cape ofQueen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s First and Last Queen. Deposed by American interests in the 1890s, Queen Liliuokalani campaigned using non-violence and with the love of her people to regain her rights. She listened, she learnt and she acted in a way that she knew to be right.

She provides us with an example of Pasefika people’s strength and wisdom, even when faced with violence and injustice.

Values such as this are the foundation of Pasefika Pride – the pride that is the focus for this fono.

In this treasure house of knowledge it is also appropriate to reflect a little on the momentum that has been generated over the last few years about how to best address family violence in Pacific communities.

In 2010 the Pacific Advisory Group sought the views of the people in four regions across the land; culminating in a Champions of Change fono held in Auckland that year.

As a result of those fono, we initiated a family violence training programme to build the capacity and capability of Pacific family violence practitioners and providers.

That then evolved into the development of the Pacific Family Violence Conceptual Frameworks released under the banner of Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu.

A literature review was produced as a guide for writers; and the Pasefika Proud Family Violence Research Plan 2013-2018 was developed.

And in two week’s time I am attending a fono in Christchurch fono to launch the next Programme of Action - Addressing violence in Pasefika families and communities 2014-2017.

Together, these resources offer specifically Pacific solutions to address the crisis of violence that impacts on far too many families in Aotearoa.

I am so proud of the vaka that has sailed through the winds and storm, and landed in such a stable place.

Through the course of your journey I have met so many amazing people of the Pacific. I have heard at first hand your aspirations. I have seen the tears shed of fathers reflecting on the way they treated their wife and children.

I have watched passionate debates unfold as traditional values are tested against the challenges of today.

And in all these settings I have loved the way in which your songs, your traditions, your stories, your prayers have helped you to build the strongest waka in which to travel forward.

Finally, a footnote.

I spent last night marvelling at the incredible talents of people like David Dallas, Bella Kalolo, Sol3 Mio, Che Fu, King Kapisi, the Musical Island Boys and all the other nominees and stars that took their place at the 10th Pacific Music Awards.

It was the most wonderful evening which gave me a sense that all is right in our world, when people are free to express their beliefs and unique Pasifika pride through a rich variety of melodies, of genre, of styles. That too, is what I wish for this fono and ultimately for all our families – a future in which every day is a day to be Pasefika Proud.

I mihi to you all for your bravery and courage for seeking a better future for all your peoples. May all the blessings of your god be with you all.

© Scoop Media

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