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Turia's comments irresponsible

5 November 2004

Turia's comments irresponsible

Co-ordinating Minister, Race Relations and Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today that comments by the Maori party that appear to condone and not discourage young Maori teenagers from getting pregnant are simply irresponsible.

"People have a variety of views around sex education for our young people and there will always be a debate around contraception and the advice we give to young teens," Trevor Mallard said.

"But for anyone to argue that it's a good thing for thirteen-year old girls to have babies is utterly irresponsible. Tariana Turia recently attacked cabinet ministers for describing the high pregnancy rate of 13 to 17-year olds as a problem. (see comments attached from speech to First Maori Sexual and reproductive conference, 1 November 2004).

"Ms Turia has previously espoused a view that she thinks it is important to increase the Maori population and that early fertility and a shortening of the generation cycle is an appropriate way of doing this.

"My firm view is that while when young teens do become pregnant, we should do everything we can to discourage that and to support and help them and their babies.

"We must do all we can to educate our kids to avoid early pregnancy - whether through abstinence or contraception. We need to give them advice to minimise - not increase - teen birth rates. It is grossly irresponsible to argue otherwise," Trevor Mallard said.

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Tariana Turias speech to First Maori Sexual and reproductive Health Conference: 01 Nov 2004: 'I am intolerant of the excessive focus on controlling our fertility.'

'When I used to sit around the Cabinet table with colleagues, one of the many hot topics I got into strife about was discussion around the 'problem' of teenage pregnancy.

''My objection was to the problemmatization of conception. So when Cabinet Ministers sat around tut-tutting the fact that the fertility rate for Maori females aged 13-17 years was 26.2 per 1000, more than five times that of non-Maori, (4.9% per 1000), I objected to their analysis of our fertility as a problem.'

ENDS

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