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Address In Reply - Tariana Turia

Wednesday 4 September

Address In Reply To The Speech From The Throne

Mr Speaker.

Tena koe.

Congratulations on becoming only the second person to be elected for a second term as Speaker in this Parliament, and I congratulate your Deputy and Assistant Speakers.

Mr Speaker I would also like to welcome all the new members to the House, particularly those tangatawhenua members, including my tribal relation from Te Ati Haunui a Paparangi, tena koe te whanaunga Metiria.

The members and uri of Ngati Hine, Ngati Wai, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Pare and Ngati Porou, tena koutou katoa.
Tena hoki koutou nga Mema hou, huri noa.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to be part of a government which is committed to the well being of all New Zealanders.

My starting point and initial focus Mr Speaker is the tangata whenua New Zealanders of Aotearoa. It is the whanau and hapu of Aotearoa.

Last week Mr Speaker I swore allegiance to the Queen and Her descendants, as indeed I should as a member of this Parliament.

I am, however, uncomfortable that the oath of allegiance makes no reference of the Treaty of Waitangi – the founding document that is the basis of constitutional government in this country; and, that the oath must be taken in the English language to be valid.

There is no inherent conflict between my role as a Member of Parliament and an agent of the Crown, and my role as part of a community of tangata whenua, which is a Treaty partner of the Crown. Our constitutional procedures should not create conflict.

I have always honoured my sponsors, the people responsible for my being in Parliament, first as a list member and now as the Labour Member representing Te Tai Hauauru. Na reira koutou o te Tai Hauauru, tena koutou.

Mr Speaker, I support the notion of unity in diversity. We tangata whenua are a diverse grouping, as evidenced in my greetings to the new members to the House.

If we include the descendants of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Whatua, Hauraki, Whakatohea, Waikato, Tauranga Moana, Te Ati Awa, Nga Puhi, Ngati Kahu, Te Arawa, Ngai Tahu, Rangitane, Nga Wairiki/Ngati Apa and Whanganui, Mr Speaker, we have amongst us in this Parliament the modern faces of diverse pre-colonial societies.

Each have their own tikanga and mita o te reo. While we have much in common, our most common features are the differences we share.

Add to those, Mr Speaker, our tuakana from the island nations of the Pacific, those with whom we enjoy a pre-colonial and pre-Treaty of Waitangi relationship based on whakapapa, and our unity becomes even more diverse.

Mr Speaker, once again in the Speech from the Throne, we are reminded that the Treaty of Waitangi is the basis for constitutional government in this country.

Indeed it could be said that the Treaty was the first formal immigration document.

While I am aware that it has been said that some of us originated in Asia, others like Ngati Porou claim that they are of the land, referring to their ancestor Maui who raised this land from the depths of the sea.

We of Nga Wairiki, Nga Paerangi and Ngati Rangi claim to originate with the river and the mountains.

We do not see ourselves or other hapu as being migrants from another land. We do not justify our presence in Aotearoa, or the occupation of another’s tribal lands, on the basis of us all being migrants.

Our histories do record the arrival of migrants from time to time, whom we embraced, and whose descendants became part of our tangata whenua communities.

Mr Speaker, the tangata whenua of Aotearoa have always been outward-looking people, willing to embrace new people, new knowledge, new skills.

I have previously spoken in this House, Mr Speaker, of the notion of hosting and guesting. Every society, Mr Speaker, every culture, has protocols of behaviour for guests in the land or home of another, or when acting as a host to others.

The challenge for us, Mr Speaker, is to ensure that we act as honourable hosts, recognising that guests who likewise act honourably can legitimately claim our protection.

It is a duty of honourable hosts to feed and accommodate our guests as generously as our resources allow.

Of course, Mr Speaker, for us to be able to extend that protection and fulfil those responsibilities, our position as hosts and our access to resources must be secure. This is a prime concern of tangata whenua.

Mr Speaker, I want to speak of the necessity of all citizens of Aotearoa learning about this founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.

We cannot continue to pay lip service to this necessity. We must act, or this country will never develop a sense of nationhood.

The Treaty establishes the principles of unity, within which we can celebrate our diversity. It can help us to sing in harmony, to dance without trampling on each other’s toes, and to compete internationally as a team with a game plan.

Treaty education is essential to the smooth running of our society. The benefits of a proper programme of Treaty education are long overdue.

The Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party consulted widely on this matter over several years. They heard two recurring messages:

- Iwi and the Crown need to develop an agreed understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi; and
- Institutional racism in the public sector needs to be addressed urgently.

Tangata whenua are saying that the self-governance experienced prior to colonisation has been steadily eroded. Since the signing of te Tiriti o Waitangi, tangata whenua and the Crown have disputed the nature of proper governance, power structures, and relationships.

This is not just a matter that belongs in the past and cannot now be set right. The two views need to be reconciled.

The denial of tangata whenua world views in policies, systems and practices is the essence of institutional racism. The flagship document Puao te ata tu, which was the voice of tangata whenua people, represented the new dawn. Little did our people know that the sunset would come very quickly.

Hapu and iwi continue to challenge the Crown’s assumption of its right to govern. They alone will determine what is best for them.

Reconciliation could well involve new constitutional arrangements. Our role as tangata whenua in this House is to ensure that we facilitate and support that to happen.

Mr Speaker much has been spoken and written about the issue of crime.

I need to state very clearly that I am not a supporter of the “lock them up and throw away the key” brigade.

As long as we continue to individualise crime, we fail to accept our collective responsibilities as a society. How can the quality and quantity of human capital be increased in gaol?

Mr Speaker, it cannot.

Yet I fear our society moving in this direction, Mr Speaker, and many of the young people targeted for such treatment appear to be tangata whenua.

The risk they face is generated by historical, political, economic, social, and cultural factors, which shape and maintain oppressive conditions.

Mr Speaker, I believe that to sentence our young to a life of hopelessness is an admission of our failure as a society. If we have no better answer than longer prison sentences, Mr Speaker, then we have surrendered to our own sense of hopelessness.

I am concerned for the victims of crime. Many of them are tangata whenua.

I am also concerned for the members of our communities who commit crimes, and I will not deprive them of their humanity. To do so, Mr Speaker, is to deny my own humanity, and what a wretched existence that would be.

I want to finish on this note. It is time that members of this Parliament made the effort to pronounce te reo Maori correctly. While it is not considered in Standing Orders to be offensive, it is offensive, and Standing Orders should reflect this.

I look forward to this term of Government, working for Te Tai Hauauru and to advancing the interests of tangata whenua. I am committed also to serving the Community and Voluntary sector. Na reira tena tatou katoa.

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