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Pita Sharples: Notice of Motion Debate

Notice of Motion: Adjournment Debate

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

Wednesday 13 December 2006

Madam Speaker, as the newest cab on the rank, when we looked up the Order Paper for this Notice of Motion, we did wonder what we could talk about with the topic of the 2007 sitting programme. What fascinating account from our tribal histories could we share with the House? Was there an appropriate whakatauki for today, a proverb, we could draw on?

Our ever helpful, whip Te Ururoa wondered if we might be better to sing….

January….You start the year off fine…..

February….well you can sing along with the rest….

In all seriousness, it is my utmost privilege to speak today, of the year that has been, and the year that is to come.

We have come to this 48th Parliament, to be the independent Maori voice in Parliament that our people were calling for. We believe we have done our best to maintain our traditions, to speak to the issues and policies, not the personalities, and to promote the message that every issue is a Maori issue.

And we have been pleased and proud to develop relationships with each and every political party in this Parliament.

We have come to every Bill, charged with our hope to reinvigorate a sense of optimism for a better, more just future.

We have raised issues that we know others would rather sweep under the mat.

We have respected the advice of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, and taken the time to ensure this Parliament gives due consideration to the report which criticises the nature and extent of the way in which the Government has responded to indigenous human rights issues.

And that has greatly saddened us.

We have sought also to challenge the basis of some initiatives which were deemed untouchable – such as the vexed issues around Treaty settlements.

We have taken out the microscope and looked for things Maori in the Budget – and found them missing; we have searched for the Treaty of Waitangi in the school curriculum – and searched in vain; and we have risen in the house to pronounce our profound disappointment at the legislation which has worked against the interests of Maori.

But against all the odds – we could not, in our wildest dreams, have known that we would be celebrating ten years of political leadership from Tariana Turia with the Repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act being drawn from the ballot.

It has been a wonderful year.

In every area, we have asked the question – how can we defend Maori rights and advance Maori interests for the benefit of the nation?

And through it all we have been so very proud to recognise the unique contribution that Maori have made and continue to make to the nation, by continually bringing them to the forefront. We have celebrated the entrepreneurship and the vision of tangata whenua.

And the regular visits we have made both in three nationwide tours this year, and our ongoing constituency programme, has sustained our momentum – to ensure the people’s voices are heard.

In speaking of momentum, I want to turn to the greatest secret of Parliament – the vehicle for transformation that is represented in this very complex.

I am talking about the incredible contribution made by members of Staff employed right throughout parliament.

It is this staff who have helped us – the new cab – enormously.

Like the day that we overlooked the importance of that 'sacred' timing – that half hour period when questions are accepted. That was the day the House had eleven questions - for grovel as we did, no leniency was allowed.

It seems there are some moments in the House where no mercy is shown. And this extends to our wonderful press gallery. Like when we, the Maori Party, had actively contributed and voted right throughout the whole twelve hours and 49 minutes of the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill – but all that was reported was the fact that at the final vote we were physically unable to be in the House.

Or that who we have dinner with appears to be of more fascination than our valiant efforts to pursue simultaneous translation or to confront institutional racism.

When I was walking to my office this morning, I was passed by Clarrie Goodhue, and not much later, Raymond Young, as they sped along the corridors of power, humming in their work, always willing to help, and to support the parliamentarians in their role.

Their constant enthusiasm, their professional service and their unstinting work ethic are replicated so many times, at so many levels of staff who come to work at the beehive every day.

And so, the Maori Party, wants to thank – with all our heart –

The incredible efforts of our library staff who have been so helpful in the face of numerous requests and absurd deadlines;

Members Services and HR – who have kept us informed about what we can and cannot do;

The Bills Office – who are always on hand to give out copies of all the Bills and reports– who keep us up to the play;

The Table Office – who have been a godsend in helping us to have all the paperwork in order for tabling.

Legal staff who have guided us in shaping of our private members bills, our SOPs and amendments;

Messengers – who link us all to the outside world;

Security – who walk our staff to their cars when they've worked late and open the doors when we come running in at the crack of dawn;

The telephonists; the travel office; the staff at Bellamys and Copperfields, the Hansard recorders; the interpreters; the Buildings staff; the cleaners – and we are sure there are many more staff who keep the cogs of this democracy turning over –the silent worker bees in the hive.

Each party, no matter how big or small, carries a similar parliamentary workload placing considerable strains on the limited resources of the smaller parties. It is a work load that would be impossible to do if not for the staff of parliament.

And finally, I come to the members of this chamber.

Madam Speaker I thank you; the Deputy Speaker and the Assistant Speakers who have demonstrated enduring patience in helping us to learn the ropes so quickly.

You have responded to the call of “Please” from Mr Harawira; his raised hand as he attempts to eke out another minute from the clock to enable him to finish what he has so assiduously prepared.

You have smiled benevolently as Mr Flavell rose to his debate in full flight delivering a well crafted speech about a Bill that was not on the paper. He put his mistake down to the gift of matakite – the vision of knowing what was yet to come.

What this House doesn’t know, was that that same member came into this House with two left shoes, not just once but twice. Such is the over-brimming enthusiasm for our MPs to come down to Wellington that sometimes luggage is a mere triviality.

You have allowed me to slide into my seat, even if it was the wrong one, and still rise to speak – in full knowledge that the vote was just a breath away from being taken.

We are also eternally appreciative of the masterful expertise of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of this House who have been a vital resource in bringing us up to speed with the rigours of Parliament.

And for all the other members of this House - good people all – we thank you for the opportunity for our party, the Mighty Maori Party, to share our ideas and aspirations for a vision of Aotearoa – a nation we are all here to serve.

We have enjoyed the relationships we continue to develop with individual Members and in some cases, party leadership, to work together in the best interests of this nation.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our year – and with the benefit of we hope, some rest over the summer – we know we will be back for more. We look forward to returning, invigorated, and energised – and of course extremely well read in the Standing Orders, the Hansard and the Speakers’ Rulings.

And as an added bonus – even more tanned having spent our time with whanau on the Foreshore and Seabed.


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