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Intended Personal Statement of Hon Tariana Turia

Tuesday, 5 September 2000 Media Statement
Embargoed until delivery

Intended Personal Statement to the House of Representatives regarding the speech to NZ Psychological Society Conference, Waikato University, 29 August 2000


Mr Speaker

On Sunday I informed the Prime Minister that I would make a Personal Statement.

I am not excusing child abuse for my people or for any other people. The people who know me would know that I would never make an excuse about an issue that is so devastating for all those concerned.

Indeed, I am passionate about finding causes and solutions to address this issue. Notwithstanding, in fact the term child abuse was not even mentioned in my speech to the New Zealand Psychological Society Conference.

In that speech, I was giving a context to help address the underlying issues that contribute to the marginalisation of Maori people.

I am saddened at how my speech has been misreported and misconstrued and as a result, caused distress to a number of people including colleagues in this House and my own staff.

I did not, in my speech mean to belittle survivors of the World War Two holocaust, or those whose houses have been invaded, nor do I intend to. As a member of a group that has been marginalised, I would never deliberately belittle the horrific experiences suffered by other people.

I sincerely apologise to all those whom I have offended by these comments.

I was simply stating what I am sure that many New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha agree, that Maori have been marginalised from the economic and mainstream of New Zealand life since the mid 19th century and that experience has been depressing for our people. I mean psychologically depressing.

I feel heartened by the faxes, emails, letters and phone calls from hundreds of New Zealanders, who have seen beyond the media hype to take the time to read my speech and consider the issues I raised.

I welcome the opportunity for this robust debate to continue looking at the history of this country.

I would be more than happy to take advice on the appropriate words to use for the horrors of my people. Whatever the words are, it will never lessen the degradation we have suffered.

I came to this House to serve my people, for that I will never apologise.

I am absolutely committed to the coalition government's policy of addressing the social and economic disparities, as well as building capacity, because I am confident it will lift not only the quality of life for our people, but also their morale.

I unreservedly apologise to all people whom I have offended who work to address these issues. I never meant to upset you, I am totally committed to all those people of goodwill who work to stop all forms of violence and abuse.

To the many who have offered their kind words of support, I thank you.

ENDS

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