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Flavell Speech: Sports Anti-Doping Bill

Sports Anti-Doping Bill; Second Reading

Te Ururoa Flavell,

Maori Party Sport and Recreation Spokesperson

Tuesday 10 October 2006; 9.30pm

The Maori Party is proud to stand and support the Sports Anti-doping Bill in our desires and commitment to promote health, fairness and equality for athletes throughout the globe.

And it is with genuine pleasure, because sports is one area where the statistics for tangata whenua are exceptional. And I stand as an example of this.

Indeed, while the majority of Maori adults are active (67%); this is particularly an area where Maori men come into our own. And I must say, following the somewhat depressing korero that was associated with the Homicide Bill earlier today, it restores the spirit to be able to stand up in this House, and share the achievements of Maori men in this Bill. For Maori men spend more time being active per week than all other adults in the country as a whole.

I’ll say that again. Maori men spend more time being active per week than all other adults in the country as a whole.

The record shows that young Maori particularly excel in this area - 71% of young Maori spend on average, 7.7 hours per week, taking part in sports and active leisure. That’s a whole hour more than we’ve spent in the House today - so that’s a pretty big period of time.

We’re not just being busy fit, but information from Sport and Recreation New Zealand states that even in our down-time, we’re busy looking for a new sport or active leisure activity. More than half of Maori adults, have the desire to be even more fit then they currently are.

Given this profile, we will support the implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code as a key means of being able to preserve the fundamental rights of athletes to participate in dope-free sport.

And it is also in light of this profile, that we strongly support the recommendation from the Government Administration Select Committee, that Drug Free Sport New Zealand will consult with, advise and assist Sport and Recreation New Zealand, and athletes.

For while the sporting bureaucracy - local authorities, the New Zealand Olympic Committee, national sporting bodies etc - will no doubt have the expert experience to do everything necessary to comply with and implement the rules of Drug Free Sport New Zealand, the perspectives of athletes themselves must be considered as a unique and necessary source of advice.

As a case in point, I want to consider one of the world’s fastest growing sports, the World Waka Ama Championships. In March of this year the “Waka Ama IVF Va’a World Sprint Champs 2006” attracted up to 5000 international competitors from 26 countries including the Pacific Island nations, the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe.

On a scale as significant as this, the importance of ensuring harmonised, co-ordinated and effective anti-doping programmes is critical if we are to retain our international reputation.

In line with the Constitution of Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa, the taking of specified drugs is banned from this sport. Emphasis of testing places emphasis on the identification of performance enhancing drugs, although a full broad band test is also administered at any event.

If a positive test is confirmed, the paddler concerned appears before the Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa Discipline Committee; at which particular penalties may be imposed.

The penalty imposed may be that the paddler is suspended from all competition in the sport in any national or international event for a minimum period of two years. Re-entry to the sport, can only occur on the basis of a negative test.

Mr Speaker, I draw upon this example for two reasons.

The first being that in a Bill which jumbles up a whole lot of quangos and agencies - the Sports Disputes Tribunal; Drug Free Sport New Zealand, Sport and Recreation New Zealand, the New Zealand Olympics Committee - and so on - I think it is important to understand how it practically impacts on an individual athlete in any sporting arena.

The second reason I drew on the case of waka ama, is of course the recent phenomenon associated with this sport, and the unique capacity that tangata whenua have demonstrated to excel in this elite sport.

I remember earlier this year, hearing a Maori woman describing how the children of Tai Rawhiti had left home as school children, and returned after the waka ama event, as world champions. They attributed their success to the traditional training they benefited from through wananga.

The traditions associated with waka are interspersed throughout our whakapapa. It demonstrates our proud history of entrepreneurship, of risk-taking, of adventure; and in a more contemporary sense, it shows us Māori realising our potential through sport.

And so it was probably no surprise that New Zealand was placed 2nd after Tahiti for Gold, and 1st overall with 63 medals in total.

It is therefore an excellent example to put before this House of a sporting body, of athletes, of constitutions which are achieving international status and at the same time, doing all they can to comply with international agreements and arrangements concerning doping in sport, to which New Zealand is a party.

Mr Speaker, there is one other very significant issue which I want to raise in the context of this Bill.

That is the complex, and highly sensitive issues associated with the testing of body fluids as directed in the anti-doping rules and principles that are accepted by most of the world’s international sporting organisations.

Matters concerning the storage, return and disposal of DNA are of utmost relevance for tangata whenua in our respect for whakapapa, the preservation of Mana tupuna. Whakapapa guides us in knowing who we are, from whom we descend, and what our obligations are to those who come after us.

And it because of the sacred significance of whakapapa, the unique genetic blueprint of every human life, that we would seek particular caution in the handling of large amounts of body fluid.

The implementation of the anti-doping sporting code does of course, involve the collection of genetic samples and data from athletes, including indigenous peoples.

Our commitment to preserving the unique design of whakapapa leads us to scrutinise any research to ensure it complies with the protocols, which protect human rights.

It is not that long ago, that the Genographic Project proposed to take over 100,000 blood samples and historical knowledge from indigenous peoples around the world. The project of the National Geographic Society, IBM Corporation, and the Waitt Family Foundation sought to collect blood or other bodily tissue samples from over 700 different Indigenous communities.

It was of course in Aotearoa, that 150 participants, from fourteen UN member states, developed the United Nations the Declaration: The Mataatua Declaration (June 1993) which

“Calls for an immediate halt to the ongoing Human Genome Diversity Project until is moral, ethical, socio-economic, physical and political implications have been thoroughly discussed, understood and approved by indigenous peoples.

Strangely enough, despite the international resistance, and the eventual cancellation of the Human Genome Diversity Project, a new five-year project recently emerged to reconstruct a genealogy of the world’s populations.

The National Geographic Society and IBM project aims to collect 100,000 blood samples from indigenous populations around the world. According to its supporters, the project would help map humanity’s genealogy. However, the Indigenous Peoples Council on Bio-colonialism has voiced its opposition to the project and its genetic testing.

We urge the international community and the United Nations to participate with Indigenous peoples in developing international policies and conventions which protect all life forms from genetic manipulation and destruction.

We can of course appreciate, how the scientists and biologists of the world, would want to look at indigenous populations to grow the perfect child.

It goes back to the start of my speech - the outstanding example of tangata whenua as a model specimen of health and fitness.

The influence and promulgation of dope, of any illicit drug, of course stands to run roughshod on that ideal model. And I want to finally pick up on the point made by Hon Goff this afternoon, in response to Ron Mark, when he referred to the drug that most worries the Police being the drug called alcohol.

And I refer also to recent statements by the Prime Minister where she said, and I quote:

“What I know is that tobacco smoking is as addictive and habit forming a behaviour as addiction to any hard drug, like morphine or heroine”.

The Maori Party will be interested to see whether in the Committee stage of this Bill, the House will also draw its attention to these other perhaps legal, but perhaps more lethal drugs that serve to threaten the body beautiful.

We in Aotearoa have a lot to be proud of, but our major success in the sporting arena, will be proven in setting a standard internationally which can only result in further progress of the sport on the world stage. That means a Drug Free Sport; an Alcohol Free Sport.

ends

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