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Tariana Turia Speech To ‘Like Minds, Like Mine’

Hon Tariana Turia Speech Notes

Speech To ‘Like Minds, Like Mine’ Project Of The Schizophrenia Fellowship Of NZ, Novotel Hamilton


Tena tatau e hui nei i raro i te mana o te mokopuna o te motu. Tena koutou Tainui me to koutou awa tapu a Waikato. Anei a Whanganui e mihi atu ana ki a koutou. Tena tatau katoa.

Whakaitia te whakawhiu i te tangata. (Eliminate the potential to discriminate)

I must confess I had doubts about speaking in Hamilton, as the last time I did so, I was subjected to a certain amount of trauma.

I was in two minds as to what my rau kotahi or my multiple self would be like today. I am here as a Minister of the Crown, I am also who I am. Of Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru, Whanganui, and Tuwharetoa descent. This, of course, means that I often start the day in five minds, my four tribal minds and me, none necessarily agreeing with each other.

We do thank you however for inviting us to participate at this hui, where members of whanau can meet, share experiences, and discuss ways of reducing discrimination in Mental Health.

We appreciate the significance of this event, in that this is the first time whanau have been given an opportunity to meet under the mantle of the ‘Like Minds, Like Mine’ project.

The anti-discrimination and destigmatisation campaign has impressed me as it has allowed for open dialogue of issues surrounding mental health.

This is of particular importance to me as I stand before you as a Member of Parliament with Associate responsibilities for the portfolios of Health, Maori Affairs, Housing, Corrections and Social Development.

I also stand before you as a descendant of Ngati Apa, Nga Rauru, Whanganui and Tuwharetoa.

My whanau, hapu and iwi define me. The foundations they provide nourish my commitment, strength and inspiration as a Maori woman and as a representative of Government.

Over the weekend on TVNZ a news item indicated that over 60% of New Zealanders still believed in God, a spiritual being who gives comfort to many people, a guardian who many people speak with and to.

I too have a guardian. I did mention the fact in a speech, delivered here, in August, where I referred to my kaitiaki or spiritual guardian.

I noted with humour, some interesting reactions to this concept of an ‘invisible friend’. With the inevitable magnification in the media I am of course, regarded as a ‘little strange’.

The press did gain some comfort from ridiculing the idea of my kaitiaki. It is that very type of behaviour by god-fearing journalists and editors, which help to reinforce prejudice and bigotry towards people who are perceived to be different.

It has also provided fuel to the fire regularly set ablaze by my colleagues in the House. There are times when our sense of humour is necessary to maintain our sanity. I have often been advised to "build a bridge and get over it" woman.

I can only imagine that the stigma and negative attitudes I have encountered can be likened in some small way to the discrimination of tangata whaiora – those who seek relief, care and support as they strive to gain mental health.

It is the type of behaviour, that I know many of you here today, have experienced. I do not see any of you as being different to me as a daughter, mother grandmother, sister or aunt.

All of us here are the son, daughter, niece, nephew, granddaughter, grandson, mother or father of someone, to that extent you are not different to me.

I strongly believe that good spiritual health contributes to good mental health and well being.

Recognition of my kaitiaki gives me the confidence and composure I need to contend with any backlash. This is testimony to the potency of a whanau-based values system that has determined principles, knowledge, laws and practices to guide and nurture our development.

Of course it has been through laws and policies over many years that have denied whanau, hapu and iwi the ability to be, and to shape their development of a healthy, positive identity.

However the importance of whanau wellbeing in Mental Health is a significant aspect of healing and service delivery.

A whanau or family-centred approach in the delivery of mental health services to Maori and their restoration to mental health and wellbeing; must be part and parcel of their assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

It is from whanau that we learn about life. Whanau experiences shape our values and beliefs. Whanau teach us to love, to share and to nurture. Whanau teach us right from wrong. Whanau teach us the etiquette of hosting and guesting.

Today I am a guest in the land of Tainui, I am also your guest. I hope what my whanau has taught me about being a good guest in the land or home of another means I do not offend you, my hosts through me not knowing my place as your guest.

Te ira tangata is the core of the Maori life principle that is passed from whanau generation to whanau generation. It physically links us to our heritage.

The whanau witnesses the first cry of a newborn baby "tihei mauriora" the sneeze of first life. The whanau often also witnesses the expiration of the last breath of life "tihei mauri mate".

This brief description of whanau activities from my perspective not only emphasises the importance of whanau well being in Mental Health but how essential whanau is in the healing process

To close, I would leave these key messages with you.

 Whanau participation in the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of tangata whai ora is important.
 When the family is integrated into the treatment team - better care, management and outcome is achieved.
 Education and information of whanau about mental illness is essential.
 A good mental health service will treat whanau as equal partners in care, so that the chances for recovery are maximised.

This is how whanau can play a part in the solutions we need for improved mental health service delivery.

No reira, takahia nga huarahi, horahia te maramatanga. Follow the pathways before us and take hold of the knowledge that is available.

I started this speech with an 'I', then it became 'we', because Iwi has both the 'I' and the 'wi'. I would like to finish with something from my speech last time I spoke in Hamilton. "In terms of our world-views, what is the difference between them saying “I think, therefore I am” and us saying "We are"."

Tena tatou katoa!

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