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Speech: Henare - CD ROM Launched


Launch of Maori Educational CD-Rom
Te Papa

Check against delivery at 11.45, 30th June 1999


In launching this CD today I feel a sense of pride and relief.

The pride and relief is not because I had anything to do in making the CD.

Rather, it has to do with the fact that the production of this resource reminds me that our people are capable of meeting the challenges of the next millennium.

This CD Rom, which is a product of Maori embracing the information technology revolution, is evidence that Maori CAN handle the technological challenges that are impacting and affecting everyone in this world.

It's evidence that we CAN take a hold of modern day technology and weave it and use it in a way that is useful for our people.

And it gives me a sense of relief that my inner voice, that little korero in the back of my mind that pops up every time I go in the Cabinet room, is right on track: Maori can do anything!

And that's what I want to talk about today.

I want to talk about the rapid changes that technology is creating in our lives.

I want to emphasize how important it is for Maori to embrace these changes.

And, I want to remind us all that change is nothing new to Maori. Facing up to change and conquering changes is part and parcel of 'Our story!

So the World is changing rapidly. Yeah..yeah...another cliche. But what does this mean? Well, there are those who say that change is the only certainty in this world! And like it or not, unforseen and unpredictable changes have made some of the world's smartest people look like dummies.

For instance, in 1895, Lord Kelvin, the President of the Royal Society of Science stated that "Heavier Than Air Flying Machines Are Impossible"

In 1927, Harry M. Warner of Warner Bros. asked "Who The Hell Wants To Hear Actors Talk?"

In 1943, Thomas Watson, the Chairman of IBM, said "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers"

So things are constantly changing - proving even the most famous of people's predictions wrong.

But not only are things changing rapidly - but the nature of our society and how we live and work is also changing.

Do any of you remember back in the day when Mum spent hours washing clothes with those wringer machines? I do. Yet nowadays I put a load of washing on and hit the presets button - bam! The washing is done silently and stress free in less than an hour. Now most people have more spare time than their own parents ever had - no wonder Oprah Winfrey is so popular.

So technological change can have a positive impact on our lives.

But that's a good example of technology.

There are also examples where technology is affecting people's jobs. Take the car manufacturing industry. It's now cheaper to get cars made overseas where machines do the work at half the price in half the time. So that's what companies like Mitsubishi have done - much to the dismay of former workers in the Porirua plant.

Well I don't have any magic formulas that will stop the Mitsubishis of the world replacing people with robots in the future.

I can't stop the tide of change which has happened worldwide with the explosion of globalisation, freer trade than ever before, and the building up of information superhighways which instantly connect people from Kaikohe with people in Kosovo.

I can't stop this type of change because no-one can. Even the US Government recently admitted that it could not make laws to regulate that stop people from saying things on the internet.

And this type of change is not going to stop.

Experts state that "80 per cent of the systems, processes, services and products that today's five-year olds will experience and use as adults, have not yet been thought of."

So what does this mean for Maori?

Well we, like all New Zealanders, and all people of the world, need to keep up with the changes.

And this is the message that I promote. Lets get with the programme. Lets think about how Maori can participate in - not be victims of - the next revolution. Let's get more Carich's out there - using change to their advantage.

Too often I hear mockers telling me that Maori don't have the ability to participate in the information technology revolution. But I hear racism and ignorance in disguise - as if we were only meant to be farm hands and labourers.

Yet if we think about it, those types of jobs are disappearing fast. But more importantly, computer technicians, those guys who we call on the help desk, are the railway and freezing workers of the next millennium!

The reality reflected in the unemployment statistics is this: our people are being put on the scrapheap as industry changes. Being the traditional supplier of a once prosperous labour force has been to our detriment and now we're having to play catch up.

Even now we're hung up on creating lawyers and teachers when the future is in IT. While we're getting cosy at home we're not looking offshore and far enough ahead to skill ourselves for the next industrial revolution.

People, we have the ability to change and adapt built within us - it is part of "Our story". We traveled thousands of miles across the sea from a warm climate to a cold one - we had to change in order to survive. So we can do it.

And this CD ROM and the Maori company that made it are evidence of this.

I mihi Carich Industries for their vision, determination and innovation. Maori can and are adapting to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Kia kaha tatou.

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