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Tariana Turia, Project Mauriora Graduation

Whakamaharatanga Marae, Waimamaku

Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa 2006 AGM and

Project Mauriora Graduation

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

Saturday 18 November 2006; 2pm

Those of you who know me, will know there is a particular sparkle in my eye when somehow you manage to persuade me to talk about my mokopuna, Piata.

I was thinking of her as I came here, and how whenever the little darling sneezes, we all quickly say, Mauriora.

Tihei Mauriora – we celebrate the essence of her life.

We recall that first intake of breath; the coming together of whakapapa; the fulfilment of the life that was nurtured and loved within the womb.

We welcome the natural rhythm of her life, we embrace her oranga; her wellness.

It’s quite different to other societies in which a sneeze is greeted with an apology, “excuse me”; “sorry”, “whoops!”.

But therein lies the key.

In order to achieve the radical transformation that we need to achieve, it is our own cultural imperatives we must rely on.

And a radical transformation is exactly what we need to address the magnitude of the violence that our whanau are experiencing.

I am so proud to be here today, to pay my tributes to the Whanau, Hapu and Iwi Kaiwhakaruruhau ‘Practitioners’ in this, your Graduation Day.

It is a great day for Waimamaku-a-Rua; a celebration of such pride for Ngati Hine, Patupinaki; a day of honour for Whakamaharatanga Marae.

And it is a day like no other for the whanau, hapu and iwi who are here to pay witness to the transformation they have experienced through Mauriora.

I want to acknowledge the challenge of the journey you have been through.

There have been some very hard times endured over this last year.

The damage of the fire at Mataitaua earlier this year, and the toll that took on the whanau of Ngati Toro. More recently of course there was the fire in the ceiling of the marae at Ohaeawai.

I know through the pain of our own marae being burned to the ground in 1981 the devastation that such loss can create throughout a community; and equally the determination and resolve it takes to rebuild.

Just in the last few weeks I also have some understanding of the difficulties that have been occurring with the spotlight onNgapuhi Iwi Social Services, and the courage and commitment that is required to restore your organisation to its full potential.

And of course, the Maori Party has been keeping a close eye on the slippery slope of government backsliding from its responsibilities, in the failure to resource Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa to deliver the very project we are paying tribute to today.

It is hard to see the logic in such indecision, when Ministers and Ministry heads alike, are all too willing to rush in to play the blame game whenever violence rears its ugly head.

Just this last week we had the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development jumping in to the fray, admonishing parents for blaming Government Departments, telling them to “stop pointing the finger at Government Departments”, because it was not Government departments that were murdering children.

Now while I am absolutely in agreement with Mr Hughes that taking responsibility within and across our whanau is essential, the state must not abdicate its own moral duty to also do all that it can within its powers, to support our whanau.

And that includes supporting an excellent project of transformation; Project Mauriora. Against such trials then, the fact that we are here today to honour the achievements of more than 200 Project Mauriora workers who have received the training is nothing short of a miracle.

Miraculous and Mauriora go very well together actually –

• an amazing product or achievement;

• an outstanding example of design;

• an extraordinary and welcome event that can not be explained by scientific laws, attributed to a divine agency.

Well yes, those three definitions just about sum it all up.

The amazing achievement is the attitude and commitment to dispel the illusion that violence is normal or acceptable.

I was interested to hear about a United Nation’s forum that took place yesterday, which challenged adults to live respect for children instead of just talking about it.

One of the speakers at the forum, Marama Davidson from the Human Rights Commission, talked about needing to be more skilled at actually listening to young people; and a young 16 year old girl who attended the forum spoke up to say “stop talking about us and them, we’re all us”.

There were statements that revealed the disparaging and dismissive way that children are often talked about – the ultimate praise being “they were no trouble”.

Another speaker made the point that too often children are seen as having value only in the adults they will become; rather than the children they are now.

I found this all very interesting – the challenge being that respect should not be one way –but that we actually value and cherish our children as the taonga we know them to be. In te Ao Maori I would have thought that these values are well understood – but I think it is always useful to look again, and remember those values of old.

You may be familiar with the words of Te Kapunga (Koro) Dewes,‘mauria ko oku painga, waiho ko oku wheru’: highlight my strengths, ignore my weaknesses.

It would seem to me – whether it is the way we talk, the way we look, the way we behave – a strengths based approach will focus on believing in the powerful potential for good that rests within us all.

The second definition of the miraculous project, Mauriora, is that it represents anoutstanding example of design.

In this, I want to record my congratulations for the way in which Project Mauriora encourages us all to remove opportunities for violence to be perpetuated. Your training as Mauriora practitioners has equipped you with skills and strategies which can both empower and liberate our whanau, hapu and iwi, to make violence a no-go area.

The brilliance of the project design in bringing together practitioners and service providers alongside whanau is an excellent example of whanau development. The project enables the expertise to be shared throughout whanau, so that everyone becomes committed to the goal of whanau wellness – rather than just the practitioner leaving with some more useful case study practice up their sleeve.

The third definition, an extraordinary and welcome event that can not be explained by scientific laws, attributed to a divine agency; is of course a reflection of the tools of transformation that create whanau as sites of wellbeing.

Mauriora draws on the wealth of whakapapa connections; the practice of tikanga; the awareness and passion of wairua; the sanctity of tapu; the sense of mauri that resonates in our reflection of identity and influence; and the ultimate expression of mana.

Finally, I want today to really commend Jozie Karanga, Tamati Kruger, Alva Pomare, and indeed all of the visionary champions that have blazed the trail for Mauriora.

The example that is evident in the nine iwi sites currently operating is an example of inspiration for Aotearoa. And I am so proud of our iwi who have fully immersed themselves in the challenge of reaffirming and validating our kaupapa, our tikanga, our practices to restore toiora amongst our whanau, hapu and iwi.

I want to return, just briefly, to Piata.

The look of sheer happiness, of peace, of absolute and complete satisfaction on her face when we bless her as she sneezes is a joy to behold.

And that glow is what I see on the faces of our fabulous whanau, hapu and iwi kaiwhakaruruhau practitioners gathered today. The strength of our cultural treasures; the wisdom of our legacy from those generations before us, is revitalising our people in ways which are indeed transformative.

The Maori Party celebrates your success, we wish you the continuing wonder of experiencing whanau well-being; and we congratulate you all for the miracles you perform on a daily basis.



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