Harawira: Entry to Parliament Speech
Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau
Entry to Parliament Speech . Mon 07 November 2005; 10.30am
It is with much sadness that I speak to you today. This country has lost two great leaders - Rod Donald, and Puti Murray.
Puti Murray was a fire-breathing preacher of the Anglican Church, the first Maori woman ordained as a priest, and a strong advocate of her faith throughout her life. She was also a strong leader of the people of Aupouri, and an auntie not to be crossed.
Auntie Puti and I got close during the campaign, and often shared the sun and a bit of korero on the streets of Kaitaia. She came often to support my campaign, and on this special day, I miss her greatly.
It’s timely too that we learn that in her last moments, Auntie Puti gave a stirring speech when she shared her pain and her grief about the devastating long term impact of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. Such are the ongoing traumatic effects of that legislation.
The passing of Rod Donald shocked myself, my whanau, my party and my nation. My aroha goes out to his whanau; his children Holly, Emma, Zoe and his partner, Nicola.
I first met Rod down here at parliament, and his first words to me were “Hone, let’s try and do something about that bloody stupid tie rule”. I laughed, but it said a lot to me about a guy who despite having been in Parliament for nine years, was still trying to break it down to make it simpler and easier to live with.
I hear Rod was a fellow Springbok Tour protester, and I honour him as one of those who marched the streets to save this nation from itself.
I liked Rod, and I’m sorry we never got to meet sooner, because I’m sure we would have had a lot in common. I was looking forward to working with him, and I am happy to work with his colleagues to achieve the same goals.
Haere nga mate, haere. Huri tu ki a tatou te kanohi ora - tena tatou katoa.
Well folks we made it! And when I say we, I mean we. This journey is our journey, and without you, I would not be standing here, making this speech, and representing the hopes and the dreams of our people from Tai Tokerau.
You know I can’t offer you the world, and I won’t even try to meet everyone’s demands - but I will do my best to ensure that we get a fair deal in a society that has not always been all that kind to Maori.
I remember being here on the 5th of May last year - speaking to thousands of our people about the injustice of the Foreshore & Seabed Bill. I remember the barriers that were erected to keep us out, and I remember thinking that the next time we came, we would come right into this house. I remember that time, because we are here now, as a direct result of the passing of that legislation on the 18th November 2004, by those same parties who form the government today - Labour, the Progressives, United Future and NZ First.
I remember that time, because that was part of the background to the birth of the Maori Party.
I remember also that while Labour was pushing through its Foreshore and Seabed legislation, National’s Don Brash was taking his own shots at so-called “preferential treatment” for Maori.
“Abolish the Maori Seats, remove all references to the Treaty of Waitangi, and get rid of Maori protocol” were his battle-cries. Pakeha New Zealanders responded in their droves, forcing Labour to play the same game to try to get those voters back.
That too was part of the background to the birth of the Maori Party, for we are committed to the defence of Maori rights, and the advancement of Maori interests
I note that today, we are being asked to swear allegiance to the Queen of England to become Members of Parliament, while not recognising the Treaty of Waitangi which gives validity to the Crown’s very presence in this land.
That too is part of the background to the birth of the Maori Party, for we are the Treaty Partner, and it is our solemn responsibility to give the Treaty back the respect it deserves as the constitutional foundation of Aotearoa.
I have also heard of, and seen for myself the poor behaviour of many of those who would lead this nation, and I wonder at the childishness of it all. The point-scoring, the malicious statements made under protection of parliamentary privilege, the interruptions, the abuse, the chanting, and the sheer immaturity of parliamentary debate.
That too is part of the background to the birth of the Maori Party, for we are committed to raising the standard of debate within the house, and to trying to eliminate the poor behaviour that parliament has become notorious for.
There is much that this house can learn from the dignity of expression on the marae, as well as the humour and forgiveness that can be found in whaikorero.
And equally, there is much to be found in the language of whaikorero. Te Reo Maori is the first language of this nation, and an official language of this country. We are blessed to be able to communicate in a language that binds us to our pacific roots and our polynesian heritage, and defines us as tangata whenua.
That too is part of the background to the birth of the Maori Party, for we are also committed to using Te Reo Maori at every opportunity - to open our speeches, to preface our questions, and to make our points in the house.
I am privileged to be surrounded by the photographs of our tupuna who watch over us inside these walls, and remind me every day of the hope and courage they had in trying to achieve things for Maori within these walls.
And I am privileged and proud to be associated with the special mana that rests within our people outside these walls. That mana comes from our people defining their own pathways and determining their own solutions. It lies within our whanau, our homes, our businesses, our athletes, our kura, our world.
I am humbled to represent the people of Tai Tokerau in this great venture. I know that our pathway will be strewn with obstacles from those who would oppose our development. But our time has come.
Challenge me to be strong, support me to stay strong, and be with me when we need to move forward together. That is all that I can ask.
Thank you for your support. I will not forget it. And I know that when I am in the house I am not alone. I have the voices of 30,000 Te Tai Tokerau people reminding me what to do, and that’s as it should be.
No reira e te whanau, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.