Speech at Ratana Centenary Celebration
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Speech at Ratana Centenary Celebration
Ki a Ihoa
Me ngā Anahera Pono
Ma te Māngai hei tautoko mai
It is an honour to stand with you all today to celebrate the prophet Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana.
It is only fitting that you bring to your whenua all the churches, the political parties and the people to celebrate this kaupapa that unites us all.
On the 8th of November, 100 years ago a vision moved a humble man to take on an extraordinary challenge. On the verandah of his family home, between two world wars, Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana would take a path that would impact the course of our country’s history.
I have heard stories of how he travelled up and down the country – in one hand he held the bible. In the other the Treaty of Waitangi.
Today, I stand before you holding the same promises.
To honor the Treaty.
And to be a Government that shares the same values spoken of so often in the Bible.
Kindness and compassion.
It has been said that the bond between Michael Joseph Savage and Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana was both political and spiritual.
They shared the same hopes for Māori.
The gifts that were passed on to Michael Joseph Savage joined together the Prophet and the politician, the people and the party.
But I know that these gifts were personal - a unique promise between the two leaders.
As the Leader of the Labour Party I want to uphold the promises of the past, but I also don’t want to just rely on the relationship forged many years ago – our relationships have strong foundations, but must also remain in the present.
That’s why I want to maintain the tradition of our past leaders, and share four gifts.
These gifts symbolise my commitment to our partnership going forward.
When word spread of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana’s prophecies and teachings and his intent to hold a hui during Christmas to open the church Piki te ora many flocked to Ratana Pa – thousands of Māori from across Aotearoa.
It was to be the biggest Hui of Māori since the signing of the Treaty.
Helping set up a small dwelling – he pitched tents, built homes, gave up his own whare, to house his visitors, to manaaki his manuhiri.
I want us to re-create that today.
Firstly this Government will be investing $1.9 million to help you build on your papakāinga land right behind the school.
The money will develop the infrastructure required to allow building to commence.
We will help subdivide 26 sections and create a pond to help mitigate flooding.
This work will set the foundation that will allow you to build on your land.
Until now this hasn’t been possible.
I am comforted that Te Puni Kōkiri will continue to work with you on this kaupapa.
Secondly, I want to gift you the bible in my left hand. This was the bible given to me by my mother and has my handwritten notes throughout. You will see I was a very diligent student.
This gift is a symbol of my promise to be a government that is kind and compassionate.
A government that puts the wellbeing of its people at the center of all its policies.
In 1928, during the economic and social depression, many Māori were left jobless with no or little government assistance.
Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana opened the doors to Ratana Pa. He created communal work and repaid people with food and accommodation.
It may have been a Labour Government that created social welfare for those in need, but it was Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana, guided by his beliefs who first created his own welfare state - by looking after our most vulnerable and showing kindness and compassion to people in their time of need.
This bible symbolizes the spiritual connection between my people and yours and our belief in our shared values found within its pages.
A connection cemented for the ages by the leaders before us and confirmed again today.
This government is also dedicated to a new phase in Māori-Crown partnership. Like Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana I know the importance of remembering our past and ensuring that as a nation we move forward together.
And for that reason I want to gift you a copy of the Treaty of Waitangi.
This is to symbolize the promise we have made as a Party to honour it.
And when you feel that I need a reminder of the commitments I have made to Māori, I will find my way back to you, to this place and ask for your help and to remind me of this day, of our promise, of our commitment.
As a constant reminder of my promise and commitment to you all, Neve and I, would like to gift you eight harakeke.
This gift will not only serve as a reminder of my commitment, but will continue to grow with our partnership.
The harakeke will bind out us together for future generations.
You may ask why eight. Well last time I was here you gifted me the name waru.
While the name may not have returned in the way you first thought. These harakeke act as a small gesture of thanks for the gift you bestowed on our whānau earlier this year.
Finally I want to thank the Ratana Church for welcoming us to your home every year.
For your support of our party and our Government. Our partnership is truly special. I know that in another 100 years our bond will remain.
We are humbled to join you in your celebrations and I have truly loved being able to talk with you all today.
Walking around and speaking to the rangatahi earlier I got to meet a new generation of Māori leaders. I know Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana would be proud of everyone here today and what we have done together.
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.