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Turia: Te Ra o te Reo Music Festival

Te Ra o te Reo Music Festival
Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party; Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru
Friday 10 November 2006; 10am
‘Drops in the ocean make a difference’

E rere kau mai te awa nui, mai te kähui maunga ki Tangaroa; Ko au te awa ko te awa ko au

I come to you from Te Taurawhiri o Hinengakau, the plaited rope of our ancestress Hinengakau, that binds our whanau from the mountain to the sea. Te awa tupua greets you, Whitireia te maunga, Raukawa te moana, Tainui te waka, Ngati Toa Rangatira te iwi.

Those three little words, Na wai koe, mean so much. Whose birth waters are you from? What are the waters of birth which establish your identity, your heritage, your culture?

And so from the waters of Whanganui to Raukawa te moana, we come together to celebrate Te Ra o te Reo.

When Jacqui sent me the invite to come here today, I literally jumped at the chance. I have really enjoyed my time here over the last few years, and I want to just mihi to Jacqui for your commitment, your passion and your unending enthusiasm in celebrating our reo.

The reputation you have established with Waru Records is legendary. The foundation you have provided for our up and coming stars, Michael Pine, Ko Au, Kahu Waitoa, Ricky Hurunui, Mel and Pip, Te Opi Taiohi, Te Ua, David Pau and all the rangatahi to come, is a source of great inspiration for tangata whenua, in knowing and believing we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.
Six years ago, just down the road at the aquatic centre, an album was released by two local girls.

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Their debut album featured new waiata emerging from our tribal roots. Our traditions, our reo rangatira, our rhythms powerfully combined with the percussion of poi, body slaps, and organic groove.

The album – WAI 100%. The locals: Porirua-based producer/ singer/ songwriter Mina Ripia and producer/musician Maaka McGregor; with Gaynor Rikihana.

And now, six years later, we celebrate the international success that has become associated with WAI 100%.

Their sounds have been given rave reviews as critics all over the globe write about the unique sound of Aotearoa – the koauau, pumoana and purerehua combined so skilfully with contemporary jungle, funk, reggae, hip hop and deep house grooves. And the word on everyone’s lips is te reo Maori.

They have been mobbed in Europe, performed for royalty, played for the Chinese Government. They have performed in New York, London, Berlin; USA, Germany, Norway, Canada, and Australia.

And why? Well I’m sure that there will be some here today that would say that it’s because they’re from Porirua City – and well yes Amazing it is.

But I think Mina perhaps put it out there the best, when she said:

I believe te reo Maori has a life, a rhythm, and a groove that is 100% unique in the world."

And how right she is. Today is a wonderful occasion for us to cherish the gifts of our tupuna, Te Reo Mäori as the cornerstone of all that is Mäori.

And what better place to be doing that than at Whitireia, which has done so much to celebrate our unique cultural identity in Aotearoa.

The Performing Arts programme that is offered here at Whitireia is an incredible investment not just in Porirua, but in the connections we treasure as peoples of the Pacific.

The reputation of the Whitireia programme is known throughout the world, as you bring the sounds of Tangata whenua, Tangata Pasifika, Tangata Tiriti to the globe.

And in talking of Tangata Tiriti, I wanted to honour the large numbers of Pakeha that are taking the time to learn te reo Maori. I was reading in the paper just this week, that about 60% of the Maori language students in the Wellington region are Pakeha.

The te ara reo Maori programme at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, for instance, has had more than 20,000 people go through its course in the last five years. That’s such an incredible statistic. I must remember to mention it, next time there’s any difficulty in Parliament with our speeches in te reo.

For when the Maori Party arrived in the Beehive, it wasn’t just the four of us MPs that created ripples. It’s the fact that we draw on our whakatauki, pepeha, and korero tawhito –as key historical and contemporary sources of the truth as Maori know it to be.

We are committed to promoting and using te reo Maori in the House and days like today, reinforce the importance of every one of us, celebrating, reviving and restoring the strength of te reo Maori in our every day settings.

We celebrate Te Kohanga Reo hei tikanga ako i te reo Maori.

We celebrate all of the bilingual units, whanau classes; and te reo Maori options occurring every day in Porirua throughout your primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions.

We celebrate the impact of Whitireia, of Te Wananga o Raukawa, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi – which all offer te reo Maori courses, right here, in Porirua.

I want to give particular mention this year to Te Kura Maori o Porirua for its commitment in living the language.

I was really impressed to see that last year, the President of New Caledonia, Marie-Noelle Themereau, on her first official visit overseas since she was elected, visited Te Kura Maori o Porirua to pick up any ideas she could take back home with her, as they work towards incorporating the native Kanak language into their school curriculum.

You’ll get a chance to see the kura performing tomorrow, and I know that this year, the tautoko will be so important to their tamariki, who have suffered the trauma of fire and the loss of their eight classrooms not so long ago.

Our language is a living language, not something preserved in an archive, but a taonga which enrichens our lives in so many ways.

And I want to finish with just two amazing Porirua stories about the ways in which te reo Maori is also enlightening the world.

The first is the invention of a free online Maori language encyclopaedia, Wikipedia Maori, which has been established on the Worldwide web, through the voluntary efforts of local Plimmerton man, Robin Patterson.

And the other is the release this year, of the first novel written in te reo Maori, Makorea, which takes as its subject, your own Ngati Toa rangatira, Te Rauparaha. Makorea, written by Kataraina Mataira, has been turned into a talking book and a radio series. Apparently the theory was that our people love to listen to te reo, to hear the language come alive.

Our reo – whether at Whitireia, at Takapuwahia, or over in the Creek, in the street made world famous by Patricia Grace, in her 1984 classic, Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street, is indeed inspiring understanding across the world, and we can all feel proud of the part we play in keeping it alive.

Tera tatou te pohehe he patawai noa iho tatou i te moana o te ora; Engari, tera taua moana te memeha iho mo te kore o taua patuwai.

There are those of us who believe that we are just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be nothing but for those drops.


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