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'A world fit for my moko'

'A world fit for my moko'

Speech - TE URUROA FLAVELL (Co-Leader - Māori Party)


Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa. About a month ago there was a fair bit of excitement in the debating chamber, which was indirectly associated with an event actually, of national significance. It may well have been reported upon by AlJazeera, because her grand auntie is a reporter at AlJazeera, and I suppose I need to tell the House that Te Hare Makarini Te Ōhaere Flavell Fox on 31 May at 1.15 a.m. came into the world. Can you give me a clap please, Mr Deputy Speaker. I think that is absolutely awesome that I am a koro now—I am a koro now. You have probably had a few shots—ten? Oh, my gosh. Well, I am just happy to have one right now.

So I just want to report to the House that that’s what has happened and congratulations to me. Thank you very much. You are probably asking the question: what the hang has the appropriations bill got to do with the birth of my moko, my No. 1 moko, my beautiful moko?

Well, I will, hopefully, be able to tell you about that over the next ten minutes or so. It is linked because I suppose, in the end, like any koro you want the very best for your mokopuna, for your children. And that I suppose is basically what I want to talk about for the next 9½ minutes or so.

As the House will know, this legislation seeks authorisation of the individual appropriations and changes contained in the supplementary estimates for the year ending 30 June 2014. Encompassed in the volumes is the landscape for the world that I hope Te Hare, my beautiful mokopuna, will inherit. I am not just thinking about her, about my mokopuna, as stunning as she is.

The truth is that according to the report done by Statistics New Zealand our nation is blessed with far younger populations in Māori electorates than in the general population. In figures released today the 2013 census revealed that although the median age for the Māori population in Māori electorates was 24.4 years old, the average age in general electorates is much older at 38 years of age. So in the priorities in policy, Budget, and legislation that the Māori Party has always followed, we have unashamedly been focused upon our mokopuna, our rangatahi, and the central role of whānau, of families.

It makes sense. These young majorities are the foundation of our future workforce. We really need to get that part right, not wait for the latest political party gimmicks to try to bedazzle the young as vote-catchers. The Māori Party has heard from many, many young leaders who resent the implication that their vote can be bought by a costly social media campaign or glitzy marketing. They have told us that they want the difference to be about whānau now, about health, education, employment, training, warm housing, opportunities for innovation, and for inspiration to flourish.

So let me take a look at the world we have committed to for my beautiful moko, Te Hare, to grow up in. At this point in time her health and well-being are our primary concern. As a result of negotiations the Māori Party entered into with National, she will now benefit from free visits to the GP and free prescriptions until she is a thriving teenager of 13 years. Thank goodness Koro does not have to pay.

Te Hare has been born into a nation in which rheumatic fever was not identified by Governments in the past as the health crisis it has now become. Addressing rheumatic fever is a recommendation from the Ministerial Committee on Poverty, which was negotiated in the relationship accord between the Māori Party and the National Government. Just a month ago Budget 2014 invested an extra $20 million to combat New Zealand’s high rate of rheumatic fever, bringing the Government’s total investment to more than $65.3 million over 6 years. When the free clinics open up later this year, over 200,000 children and young people in high risk areas will have access to prompt care and treatment for sore throats, and it is about time, too. For too many years previous administrations neglected the health of our most vulnerable children and I for one am proud that the Māori Party has stood up and pointed out the obvious: health matters.

Another priority for us has been to focus on the close relationship between health and housing. As a result again of the pressure brought to bear by even having a Ministerial Committee on Poverty, the Government has now agreed to expand healthy homes initiatives in Northland, Waikato, the lakes area where I am from, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Capital and Coast District Health Board, and Hutt Valley District Health Board.

Another aspect of health for our mokopuna is, of course, her niho—her teeth. During Budget 2014 Tariana Turia announced $10 million was being invested into supporting whānau, ensuring they are enrolled for the free local dental service and given lots of support to maintain great oral hygiene. The Māori Party is going to go even further though, and we are encouraging all of our whānau—indeed, all of the nation—to eliminate sugar in beverages from their diets in the interests of a healthy lifestyle.

What is really exciting about that is that in Budget 2014 we also provided ourselves with an opportunity to launch an initiative that will definitely help shape the world of our mokopuna and that is Moving the Māori Nation. This is an approach that will support whānau to take a collective approach to health and well-being by participation in sporting, recreation, and cultural activities. One only has to look at the amazing numbers of families that are involved in getting into things through waka ama, Iron Māori, Tri-Māori, ki-o-rahi, and tribal cultural activities—Pā Wars—to see the whole new level of energy amongst our communities.

That energy was given further steam through Budget 2014 by the focus that we have given to innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. The burgeoning Māori economy was given an injection of goodwill through an extra $8 million fund to support innovation and investment readiness, as well as $6 million for building the capability and branding and leveraging Māori tourism and trade.

In order for Te Hare to take advantage of all these opportunities, firstly, she needs a top quality education for her knowledge, and then attitudes to be refined with a full range of training skills to really open the door wider. In the weekend I had the privilege of attending the Te Ranga battle site service and ceremony at Pyes Pā in Tauranga. In particular I was moved by Ngā Roimata O Te Ranga, a recounting of the events of 21 June 1864 in haka and song. It made me appreciate just how significant the announcement by my colleague Dr Pita Sharples of a new educational initiative to support and strengthen the teaching of Māori history in years 1 to 13 in schools and kura is going to be.

We need our stories and our knowledge to be valued, and that is where the new investment in establishing a Māori centre of research excellence takes that concept even further.

Bringing the debate back to my beautiful, magical little mokopuna, once she has flourished in her insulated home, and benefited from a quality and culturally competent education system, she will be strong and well, and of course a champion in every sporting event, and then we will need to look at what employment and training avenues are in front of her.

And, there is a wonderful surprise ahead of her. The Māori Party, in collaboration with the Government, has invested $43 million in the Māori and Pasifika trade training initiative, to help younger people to develop skills in trades that are needed right now and in the longer term. That is 3,000 places by 2015, to encourage young Māori and Pasifika people to gain qualifications, New Zealand Apprenticeships, and employment. The Māori Party is proudly whanau-centred—every day of our political term, and in every aspect of our lives. Whānau ora is a way of being. It is not a line in a manifesto or a substance of a press release. It is a transformation of whanau, which results in long-term vision, determined by the whānau themselves, by the family members themselves.

Our basic approach to Budget 2014 and indeed to our portfolios right across parliamentary and ministerial responsibilities is underpinned by the knowledge that if we do not transform our families, we will not see the difference that we really want to see. The system, in every sector, serves to fragment families, to put them in silos, and to segregate them. It puts them in compartments and individual components, while all of the time there is a steady focus group of nannies, aunties, mums, and dads who are all watching keenly on every sphere. In closing, the Māori Party is distinguished by our focus on whānau, our determination to take a collective approach. We are proud that our party has delivered on our commitment to create a world that is going to be fit for my beautiful, beautiful moko, Te Hare.


ENDS

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