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Turia: Speech to Werohia Development Ltd

7 December 2004

Speech to Werohia Development Ltd, Waikawa marae, Picton Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party Saturday 4 December 2004

Rau Rangatira ma, tenei te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te ra.

Tena koutou nga mana whenua o Te Tau Ihu, nga poutokomanawa o te marae o Waikawa, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutoa katoa.

We are delighted to be here today, to join with you in celebrating the achievements of the students of Werohia Development in conjunction with Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

When I looked over your programme: Te Whariki, Tiakinga Tai Ao a Iwi, Te Tohu Whakangungu Kaihoe Waka, Tiakinga Taiao a Iwi, and Te Kawai Raupapa Raranga, I thought about the concept of voyage and its meaning for our people.

And it made me travel back in time to the voyage of Maui.

The voyage of Maui was a voyage of adventure, of discovery, of wonder.

That’s the sort of voyage one would expect an education provider to take their students on. That’s the sort of voyage I know we are celebrating today.

I think also of the voyage of Paikea, from Hawaiki to Te Tai Rawhiti. As we look out here at the gateway to Queen Charlotte Sound, I wonder about the stories you have to tell as Te Atiawa of your experiences of whales, of kewa and paraoa.

Many seaward tribes have strong associations with Paikea – iwi of the North, the East Coast, the people of Kaikoura. I wonder about the connections at this very marae with another great house of learning, Nga Heru Mai Tawhiti, at Waikawa on the East Coast.

The story of Paikea, popularised by the movie Whalerider, and of course the waiata, is one of great courage, of energy, and battling the odds.

So in coming here today, to acknowledge and congratulate the achievements of the students and your whanau, I have been thinking about the characteristics of your predecessors in carving out a new pathway forward.

I know those same qualities are ones which you will have acquired in your educational adventures here, and which will set you in good stead for your future ahead.

I want to spend some time retracing the exploits of Maui. Maui was the youngest of five brothers, children of the atua, Makea-tu-tara and Taranga, an earth woman.

He has been variously portrayed as mischievous, as abandoned, as a ‘rejected scrap of humanity’. If that sounds familiar, the issues associated with isolation and marginalisation have of course been in our minds throughout the last week of debate in the house.

But another interpretation of Maui as the mischief maker, is to value the special gifts that he brought to the world, his unique wonder, his creative spirit.

Maui was able to observe the world, to think outside of the square, and then to act. Are these not the qualities we would seek for our students in kaupapa Maori education?

Maui looked at the sun and saw it was tracking too fast. His insatiable curiousity made him consider all possibilities. He enlisted the support of his brothers, and together they wove ropes of harakeke, set a trap at sunrise, and snared the sun.

As a result our days are longer, the warmth of the sun a luxury we enjoy more because of his intervention.

Maui wondered at the origins of fire. He knew of its importance for heating, for sustenance, for kai, fire to warm the people.

As we say today: "Kia mura tonu nga ahi kaa mo te matemateaone" . Keep the home fires burning so our loved ones will always return.

Fuelled by his observations, Maui set out to discover the secret of fire. After many days and nights he came across the cave of Mahuika, the Fire Woman. Through ingenuity and skilful negotiation, Maui was able to receive the flames from Mahuika, and to achieve ongoing fire.

From his discovery, he was able to provide for the well-being of all.

His initiative contributed to the survival of Mäori as a people, his respect for whanaungatanga demonstrated by the gifts he shared amongst his own.

Likewise, with the learning you have acquired with the help of Werohia and Te Wananga o Aotearoa, you too will be able to share this new knowledge for the benefit of your whanau, and the benefit of future generations.

Maui observed the need for kaimoana, the pursuit of new land, of conquest. Armed with the magic jawbone of his tupuna, Muriranga, he used the jawbone to fish up Te Ika a Maui. Ko te hei matau a Maui.

With perseverance and creative application, he hauled up the largest fish ever caught, the North Island, the great fish of Maui.

As it will be with you all. The learnings of your tupuna, the strength of your whakapapa, can be applied to lead to the achievements of your people.

There are many interpretations around the legacy of Maui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga. I have heard some debate around the sacrifice and qualities of Taranga at the time of his birth.

Maui was born prematurely, and would have perished, had it not been for Taranga placing him in the topknot of her hair, which according to our custom, is imbued with sacred, with tapu qualities.

Was this an act of love of her part? Her way of gifting him to a world outside of herself?

It leads us to think of wairuatanga, of the importance of oranga wairua for our well-being, the spiritual existence along the physical.

I am confident that the knowledge you have taken up through the study of Maori nautical programmes, will have nurtured an intimate connection to our maunga, awa, moana and marae, and to our tüpuna and atua.

Whether it be Teatiawatanga or the tikanga of the eight iwi within Te Tau Ihu, our spiritual identity and connection with the land is absolutely central to who we are.

Who better to understand this, than the people who led the charge for the foreshore and seabed claim centred on Te Tau Ihu?

Your efforts to appropriately and substantively recognise, protect and enhance customary rights will always be seen as the courageous pursuit of our aspirations as tangata whenua. For that, we will always be indebted.

Just like Maui and Paikea, the people of Te Tau Ihu followed the pursuit of our ancestors.

And you too, the graduates of today, have journeyed uncharted waters in your quest for new knowledge.

Your tohu recognises that you believed you could succeed, that you had faith in your ability, that you knew you could repeat the success and courage of our ancestors.

It may not have been all plain sailing.

Maui encountered cynicism, negativity, criticism in the approach he took, from his own brothers, his kin.

But just because he was the only one that took a different position, it didn’t mean he was wrong. It just meant he was different.

We need to explore different ways of seeing the world, of being in the world, without the pressure of eternal condemnation if we follow a different path than those that others would wish of us.

A mature nation will allow for different perspectives to be aired, for alternative journeys to be travelled, and still retain a sense of unity.

In the Maori Party that unity comes through the aspirations handed down by our ancestors.

There may also be some of you here, who in other centres of learning, may well have been stigmatised with a big F on your report cards. They say that failure provides us with another opportunity for success.

The concept of failure needs re-examining – the failure may well be the course that is wrong, not the student.

Sometimes we all go to a place which is wrong for us, or we end up trapped in the right place at the wrong time.

Maui had immaculate timing. He chose his moments. For the students here today, perhaps this is your moment.

Your moment to recognise and harness your many powers and potential.

Your moment to cherish the joy of coming to know the unknown.

You know, one of the greatest gifts our three year old mokopuna gives us every day, is the gift of wonder.

That excitement of being a tutu, of looking at something and marvelling at what was not known before – before she takes the batteries out of the remote, the stuffing out of the pillow, the plants out of the garden – that act of exploration.

My wish for us all here today, is that we continue to relish the joy of learning, that sense of marvel. If we stop wondering, we stop living.

Maui was all about living.

So much so that he sought eternal life as we all do. Eternal life lives on in those whom we love over time.

We all have the potential to create new life. And we all have the gifts and legacy handed down by our tupuna to share.

What is more, for the talented graduates that we celebrate today, we too can be inspired by the insights of new experiences and learning in the areas of education, of matauranga, of life.

I thank you for inviting me here to a day of wonder and adventure.

I wish you all an exciting celebration today, and I am sure, a much welcomed summer holiday.

Tena tatou katoa.

© Scoop Media

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