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Turia: Christchurch Pasefika Proud Fono 2014

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister for Social Development

Friday 23 May 2014 Speech

Christchurch Pasefika Proud Fono 2014

I acknowledge firstly, Pastor Kenneth Fuliese, for blessing our fono with your presence and your gift of words.

Thank you to our accomplished Master of Ceremonies – Memea - and I am always happy to be in the company of Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira who has provided such fine leadership to the work of the Pacific Advisory Group and in particular the evolution of the Pasefika Proud fono.

It is wonderful to be with you all this fine Canterbury morning – and to celebrate the strength of friends, family, ministers of the faith, community leaders and the champions of change that all of you here represent.

It makes perfect sense to be gathered here at the Atrium.

The notion of atrium takes us back to the architecture of Ancient Rome –where it became customary to include a large open space within a building, bringing with it light and ventilation.
The atrium has become popular with designers who enjoy the opportunity of creating new space.

That is exactly what we are doing in this Pasefika Proud Fono – we are creating new spaces to talk about how to address family violence in Pasefika communities.

That statement is in itself worthy of light being shone upon it.

For what we found in Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu is not so much a focus on family violence – but instead a constant emphasis on relationships and the value of family.

Let me share one example that came through from the Tongan working group.

Ko e masiva oku ongo taha, a e hala ha kainga
To have no kin is to be in extreme poverty

I so relate to that idea.

When I was growing up we certainly weren’t travelling in limousines and wearing the latest designer brands.

But poverty never entered our conversation.

Because in reality we were rich in the blessings of family. We felt well-endowed with the love of aunties and uncles watching our every move - our elders were treasured for the wisdom and learning they had to share.

That was the message that came through loud and clear when a couple of years ago – in 2010- the Pacific Advisory Group travelled the motu to hear your ideas about how best to address the crisis of family violence.

Those hui culminated in the Champions of Change fono, which then led directly into the publication and release of Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu.

In the words of the Niuean working group they encouraged us to be kau fakalataha - to be unified - to co-operate - to foster peaceful relationships within and between family members.

Kau fakalataha might refer to eating together; prayers together; talking with each other. In essence it is just to be.

My greatest hope is that the Programme of Action we are launching today celebrates this way to be – it reflects who you are.

And in doing so, it will most certainly reflect respect.

A fundamental premise throughout the Pasefika Proud Programme of Action is the Pasefika concept of Respect.

I can never say Respect without thinking of the immortal Aretha Franklin– R-E-S-P-E-C-T – find out what it means to me.

What respect means to the Pasefika families and communities that shared with us, was expressed through language, through thought and through behavior – walking the talk.

Respect is then further defined into:

• Observing tapu relationships within families;

• Fulfilling individual obligations and responsibilities for maintaining family well-being;

• and speaking Pasefika languages to convey core concepts and principles.

I want to come back to the concept of creating new spaces.

Because the great challenge inherent within Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu is not so much that the cultural knowledge within the framework has been created anew. It is, in reality, traditional knowledge that is able to apply in everyday modern situations.

But the new space; is that by so generously sharing your knowledge in the framework and the Programme of Action you are asking government agencies to learn from the notion of respect – and to consider how best to interpret it.

I really love that fact – the fact that the Pasefika cultural knowledge used in the Programme of Action will usefully inform better practice and understanding from all those who work in agencies of the state.

And this isn’t just about reading a good book and occasionally revisiting it in your minds.

In the Pasefika Proud outcomes framework we are looking to see real results - outcomes which must be owned by departments. It provides an overview of the contributions by government agencies to provide better outcomes for Pasefika peoples, their families and communities.

Outcomes which have grown out of core Pasefika values and principles; developed by Pasefika peoples who speak their native language and who understand their culture.

We might call that cultural competency. We might also call it common sense. Whatever we call it the intention is clear-that Pacific peoples and their families are safe, strong and resilient.

The launch of the Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu frameworks saw the development and piloting of Pacific family violence training programmes right across seven Pacific Island nations: Rarotonga, Niue, Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu.

It was a recognition that the answers lie in strong Pasefika communities, upholding their own time-honoured concepts of respect, tapu, obligations and individual responsibilities towards maintaining family wellbeing.

The core values and principles that are woven through the Programme of Action provide the cultural context in which it must be read understood and interpreted in light of Pasefika peoples’ experiences and perceptions of violence and well-being.

The programme exists within a strong cultural framework – Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu and the Pasefika Proud Strategic Outcomes Framework. The wisdom of all those who have helped build these foundations enriches us.

As part of the Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu strategy, it was also identified that there needed to be a Pasefika Cultural Competency programme for mainstream services and New Zealand-born Pasefika peoples who are unacquainted with their culture and/or language.

The development of a Pasefika Cultural Competency programme has therefore been added as an action point in the Programme of Action plans – again echoing the approach of Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu in creating new space.

I want to also put down the challenge articulated so well in this Programme of Action.

If Pasefika peoples are to participate in defining and articulating the problems and the solutions that affect their wellbeing, the tools of evidence-gathering that are grounded in Western methodologies must not monopolise the dialogue.

The inclusion of definitions and understandings of violence that are critically informed by Pasefika cultural and lived contexts, need to be thoughtfully reconsidered and reconceptualised.

As one clear example of this truth, I would note that the Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu Conceptual Frameworks have identified that a key omission in the government definition is the violation of tapu relationships that occur in the act of violence.

The concept of violation of relationships is critical to understanding Pasefika notions of wellbeing in the context of relationships and the fracturing of family relationships through violence.

Finally I want to end today, by honouring the architects and designers, the word artists; the talented team who have danced with ideas with one aim - to foster the spirit of Pasefika Pride: Maiava Carmel Peteru, Jean Mitaera, Everdina Fuli, Peseta Betty Sio, Yvonne Chrichton-Hill, Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira and Mr Sai Lealea.

I thank the Ministry of Social Development’s Pacific Unit, the Pacific Advisory Group which was pivotal in the strategic management of relationships and information and all those who have participated in this development.

Collectively Pasefika peoples bring great leadership, knowledge and innovative strength to our society. I look forward to your distinctive contribution to a safer, violence-free Aotearoa.

I wish you a wonderful fono today and even more, I wish you much courage and endless creativity in creating new spaces across all of your communities to focus on how best to strengthen our families to make a real difference in the quality of their lives.

ENDS

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