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Turia: Women’s Refuges

National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges

Te Poho o Rawiri Marae; Kaiti, Gisborne;

Hon Tariana Turia

Monday 20 October 2008; 2.30pm

It is extremely appropriate to be here, at Te Poho o Rawiri, to be focused on one of the most critical issues facing Aotearoa.

Poho o Rawiri, stands at the foot of Titirangi, named in rememberance of the mountain, Titirangi, in Hawaiki. Its origins can be traced back for at least 24 generations through the whakapapa.

The site of Titirangi is also important for other reasons.

The summit, at 130m, made an ideal defence against enemies as there was the vantage point with clear views of the land and sea, while the slopes gave strong protection against invaders.

In short, this area is rich with illusion about the key pointers we need to consider in our pursuit of whanau wellbeing; and our campaign against violence.

Having the clarity of this space to sit and reflect, will give an excellent opportunity to reflect on the total of 58,761 violence offences which were recorded in the year to June.

Having the advantage of perspective to look out at the invasion of violence that has ripped through our communities, will hopefully give us all an opportunity to consider, have we got the balance right, are we ensuring whanau take responsibility for their own futures?

On one level, of course, the fact that recorded family violence was up 29 percent last year is, ironically, cause for some optimism.

Does it mean that perhaps we are seeing data which reflects an increased awareness and reporting of family violence?

The numbers may reflect improved reporting from front-line officers investigating and detecting the problem.

They may also reflect more effective community ownership, agencies such as this who are getting in there, ensuring zero tolerance to violence.

But on another level, I have to pose the question, who are we kidding?

58,761 violence offences is undoubtedly an outcome of great sorrow for this nation.

How did we get to a space and time in Aotearoa, that almost 60,000 episodes of violence are recorded – and we all know are just the tip of the iceberg?

I think one of the messages Waitakere City Council initiated in the ‘Family violence is not ok’ campaign said it all, by placing this message on their rubbish sacks.

Violence is literally the rubbish of our nation, that we must get rid of, discard, eliminate in order to truly be clean, green and healthy.

The challenge is, of course, how do we do that?

The symbolism of Titirangi is important in answering this question.

The Maori Party believes that our strength lies in our extensive whakapapa, our rich resource of experience and history that we can draw on to strengthen ourselves as people.

One of the key initiatives we promote in our policy manifesto is the notion of cultural competency in health, social services, education, justice.

To be culturally competent you must

• first know the basis of your own worldview;

• appreciate cultural differences; different practices and worldviews;

• and be ready to develop cross-cultural skills – in order to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures.

We believe cultural competency is found in the strategies and examples left to us from 24 generations and more which are as relevant now, in restoring whanau wellbeing as in earlier times.

In our whanau ora policy announced last week, we stated our commitment to Encourage Whanau Restoration.

We have pledged to support and resource providers with a track record of success in attaining mauriora; and in preventing family violence.

Mauriora will come, we believe, when we restore to ourselves the commitment to collective responsibility.

If we are truly committed to whanau ora, to mauriora, we must encourage the whole whanau to take collective responsibility and collective action.

A strong and united whanau is a powerful force for good; indeed there is nothing as inspiring as a whanau in complete control of their direction.

The Maori Party is not afraid to share our concern about the fixation with individualized services for individual clients or perpetrators.

Family violence is an issue that affects the whole whanau, not just the person some agencies refer to as the victim; those who survive the persistent acts of violence, whether it be physical, sexual, cultural, psychological or economic violence.

And so, when we think of successful approaches in confronting violence, we know that it is found in a whole-of-whanau rejection of any understanding that violence is normal or acceptable.

Mauriora is found in the identification of the roots of violence in conversations, in the way we talk to each other.

It is about pinpointing actions and vocabulary that is mana diminishing – which reduces the mana of individuals and whanau.

But importantly, it is not just about pointing out these issues – it is also about teaching transformative practices based on Maori cultural imperatives to provide alternatives to violence.

These practices will be found in our moteatea, our waiata, the living memories of our kuia and koroheke. These practices are found in our tribal history, and once found, become an exciting foundation for change.

The Maori Party has been really supportive of those initiatives that have come from people like Rose Pere, Amster Reedy, Mason Durie, Tamati Kruger, and all of our own leaders, historians, writers, thinkers, our olds, who have restored to us a virtual treasure chest of precedents and practices which we can draw on.

Finally, we want to ensure that opportunities for violence to be practised are eliminated by the empowerment and liberation of whanau, hapu and iwi.

It is about all of us taking control of our destiny; having the courage to address behaviours of concern.

Government must also be bold enough and brave enough to tackle the endemic state of economic violence that is confronting so many of our communities.

It is simply unacceptable that 27% of Maori children live in poverty; that 150,000 children are categorized as in ‘severe and significant hardship; that between 2000 and 2004 the number of children living in poverty increased by a third, with children of beneficiaries worst affected.

Our policy manifesto is driven by our commitment to do something about the dire state of impoverishment we know exists in too many families, too many communities.

We will

• bring relief to the poor, particularly those on benefits;

• reduce taxes for those with income under $25,000

• take GST off food on the grounds that GST hits low-income people disproportionately;

• set a deadline to eliminate child poverty by 2020;

• designate an official poverty line at 60 percent of the median household disposable income after housing costs and set net income for those on benefits at this measure to prevent poverty.

• increase minimum wage to at least $15 an hour;

• Raise core benefit levels, including superannuation, veteran’s pensions.

• Simplify Working for Families including extending the ‘in-work’ payment to all families.

• Investigate the reintroduction of a Universal Child Benefit;

• And that’s just a few to get started.

Finally, we have a vision that every family can stand strong and noble; proud of the efforts they are making to invest in whanau ora. We must count our successes and always be open to learning from each other.

The Maori Party commends the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges for your commitment to working in a Treaty-driven way; to ensuring Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured in the organisation; that tangata whenua are respected alongside Tangata tiriti.

It is a model which we support; a model which upholds the promise of the Treaty as the framework for mutual respect and good faith.

We in the Maori Party know that the future of this nation will come through investing in relationships of mutual respect.

In the challenge of responding to family violence, as in any other area, our solutions will be found by working alongside of each other, walking the talk together.

This is our time. We must step up to the mark, to trust in each other, and to take bold action for a future for us all.


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