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Henare: Wake up and smell the millennium.

Speech notes to
Hui Ohanga
Alexander Park Raceway
Hon. Tau Henare
Leader
Mauri Pacific

Auckland

20/10/99

Wake up and smell the millennium.

It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to prepare the current and next generation to enter the new millennium on equal footing with the rest of New Zealand and in a positive context.

The new millennium presents many challenges and the main one has to be closing the disparity gap that exists between Maori and non-Maori. Actually, we need to go one step further than that and do more than just bridge the gap, but be leaders in setting benchmarks for non-Maori to aspire to.

That's what we need to be doing - achieving despite the gap - and a key to this is through Maori enterprise. I see this hui as a cornerstone for developing a strategic plan to guide Maori business development in the new millennium.

Success stories

Before I talk about strategies etc I think it's important to celebrate some of our success stories. Blow a little if you like.

We're good at saying how stink we are ? I should know, people aren't slow in coming forward in telling politicians what's on their minds ? but we have this inherent ability, it's actually part of the NZ culture, to bag success.

So I'm going to brag a bit for some of our Maori economic heroes:

* Whalewatch

* Tamaki Tours

* Biofarm

* Carich Productions

* Animation Research

* Mokai Geothermal

* Tohu Wines

Take a bow. You are but small proof that we're part of the new world order.

You are also proof that use of a distinctive Maori brand gives us market power in the deregulated economy and distinguishes Maori from their rivals, therefore giving Maori a competitive advantage that must be protected.

Current economic and social philosophers ? and you can add political in there as well ? have failed to grasp another paradigm ? cultural capital.

One that can give a sense of unity and pride to a population overwhelmed by the animosity of the global market place yet is able to take advantage of the new and exciting opportunities that it presents.

The crisis facing this country is not so much the state of the economy, but rather the state of the nation's spirit. Today's leaders have failed to see cultural capital as an important source of unity and pride, yet an election victory hangs on it, and thriving economies like the Japanese and Irish openly flaunt it for their own economic gain.

Strategies for success

The 70s and 80s were the time of struggle for our land and our language. The land march, Bastion Point, the Hikoi ki Waitangi and the beginning of the kohanga reo movement symbolise those years.

During the 90s we began to feel our political power and the last election saw the greatest number of Maori in our history enter Parliament.

The 90s have also been the age of Treaty settlements, and although these are fraught with controversy and difficulty, there is a growing awareness amongst our people that it is time to leave behind the grievance mode.

Poised on the cusp of our new millennium we need to decide what the next decade will be remembered for. It is my fervent hope that this time will be known as the age of the Maori economic renaissance.

Despite a host of achievements at a government level in recent times we are still in the position of having to ask government to financially support our initiatives. It doesn't matter whether these are economic, social or cultural, we are forced to make initiatives fit tauiwi criteria. That is a form of slavery ? economic slavery.

You know I once heard one of this country's top public servants, Phil Pryke, say there were more accountability mechanisms built into Maori processes than he'd ever encountered. That's saying something for a man who you could assume had seen it all.

So much of our energy and intellectual capacity is utilised in the welfare bureaucracy. That is, the sharing and caring industry.

We are the beneficiary, the WINZ worker and the Trust that contracts to deliver social services on behalf of the Government.

Don't get me wrong, I know only too well how necessary this work is given our current negative statistics. Yet the best we are achieving by continuing this focus is managing poverty, not defeating it.

To defeat our poverty we are going to have to make a collective decision, a conscious leap to a new paradigm, a new way of thinking.

There has to be a time when we can create our own wealth. We have to abandon the idea that the Government will be overcome with guilt and return the country to us. No oppressed people were ever freed by the oppressor. In the end freedom must be taken.

When a strong regular army fights guerilla forces its primary aim is to separate the guerilla from his food source, his access to the necessities of life. He must then spend his energy scavenging for food, for supplies, and eventually his will to win is destroyed.

In an economic sense that is us and where we are right now.

Mao Tse Tung developed a counter strategy that he used successfully in China. It was used again by Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, not once, but twice.

Mao's strategy had three stages. First, build support amongst your people, educate them, and create enthusiasm and commitment for the idea of freedom. When you have a strong core group of people who are willing to fight and who believe in the cause, train them well with the skills of modern war. Just to fight is not enough. They must also be well disciplined.

The second stage was a campaign of attacks against strategic targets that are important to the enemy that allowed his war machine to run efficiently. Disruption and uncertainty are the outcome. The guerilla army can never be caught on open ground during this stage or it will be destroyed completely. It must build its experience, its capability, learning from its mistakes and consolidating its gains amongst the people.

The final stage begins when all these factors have converged together ? support, discipline, experience, capability and belief. The enemy will have become defensive, unsure of his control and prone to over reaction, the morale of his soldiers weak and unsound. It is then time to strike with all the power the guerilla army has built up in one complete and final blow.

For a good part of the last decade we've been building economically and we can't afford to let the momentum be stopped.

The question is how will we do it? Follow the tried and true path?

Firstly, education. Not just art, language and teaching. These must be supplemented with science, mathematics, information technology and management skills. These are the tools of the new war.

At the same time encourage debate on economic ideas to inform our people so they can participate in the decisions that need to be made.

Then build our infrastructure. Use the settlements and government contracts to build the capability of our whanau, hapu and iwi (and includes the new urban iwi) organisations.

Build the human capital and the financial capital. Our targets are currently health, education and social services. Our next focus may be on the control of public utilities; electricity companies, ports and harbours,

At a regional level we should seek partnerships between iwi, local and national government to attract industry and partners to our papakainga areas such as Northland and the East Coast. These partners must have objectives that are in synergy with ours and provide employment and training, careful use of natural resources and respect for the land.

The final stage will be our participation in the national and global economies as an equal, not a poor relation.

I see a time within the next decade when we are a substantial force at all levels. We need to rid ourselves of our fear of success, our fear of overseas investment, our fear of economic development.

None of these are a threat to our culture if we are in control. An economically strong Maori people can only be good for our culture. An economically strong Maori people can only be good for the country as a whole. Almost a third of the GDP of this country goes into government spending and a disproportionate amount of that is spent on Maori welfare.

As I have always said, the Government is a poor parent.

Obstacles

Lets take a little time, ladies and gentlemen, to reflect on the obstacles for Maori.

And the one that keeps coming up time and again is financial assistance or venture capital.

The current political rhetoric opposes any assistance at all, however I must admit to feeling a little aroha for people with the ideas, enthusiasm and the drive, but no money to do the job.

But I believe access to capital combined with business development services will allow more Maori to enter the business realm.

Education is another obstacle to Maori development ? or lack of it ? but increasing Maori participation at all levels.

Launch Maori Business Education Initiative

One of my last tasks while I'm still on my feet is to take this opportunity to announce that through the efforts of Victoria and Auckland Universities, Maori will have access to knowledge and advanced training, previously not available.

I am pleased that present here for this announcement are the Dean of Commerce and Administration at Victoria University, Prof Neil Quigley, and the Dean of Commerce from Auckland, Prof Bruce Spicer, along with our good friend, Prof Graham Smith.

The two universities are coordinating in a unique programme, which utilises technology in a way, which makes business and commercial study accessible to all of our people. The programme centres around a new Victoria University certificate of Maori Business, which is part of the B.Com programme offered by the university.

The programme will be taught throughout NZ on a block course basis and through electronic teaching. It covers the key areas relating to the management of Maori authorities and the establishment of small and medium-sized businesses.

It also covers all aspects of business relating to the constitutional frameworks, accounting, marketing and strategic planning.

Conclusion

Some of you are here today because Tuku, Rana, Jack, Ann and I decided to keep the ship steady and supported economic stability, rather than continuing down the path of recklessness Winston was taking us.

Our decision had nothing to do with the Ltds ? they're Fairmonts anyway. We put the interests of the nation, including yours, ahead of our own. If we didn't you could guarantee the markets would've gone into a spin and the stock market would have plummeted dramatically and we'd be in a worse position today.

We've not asked for anything in return, but we carried on with the job we were given when we came into Government in 1996 and fought damn hard for everything we've got.

Of course we're not going to turn things around overnight. It's taken over 100 years to get us into the position we're in, but we're making a difference and that's the key.

So I find it a bit rich when people point the finger at me and say: but unemployment is still high etc.

That may be so but it took us 100+ years to get us there. People like me have made a difference in a little under three years.

I know it's not our way to say how sweet the kumara is, but they grow aplenty where I come from, and I wouldn't want to be selling you spuds. Besides, if I don't tell you, no one else is going to.

Finally, I'm confident that a path towards increasing Maori participation in the commercial world will be drawn out from this hui and I wish you well.

Thank you.

ENDS

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