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Tariana Turia: Framing Maori – ‘To do a Waitangi’

Framing Maori – ‘To do a Waitangi’

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Thursday 30 October 2008; 7pm

On May 3, 2004, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, confided to Breakfast Television, that the hikoi making its way to Wellington was comprised of :

“The same old faces. The Ken Mairs, the Harawira family, the Annette Sykes, the haters and wreckers, the people who destroy Waitangi every year, now wanting to do a Waitangi in every town in New Zealand on the way to Wellington where they will do a Waitangi on the steps of Parliament. Is this not what New Zealand has got absolutely sick and tired of?”

Those words, of course, will be forever on the public record.

And that’s bad enough.

But what is even worse, is the ominous silence that followed those words.

No analysis of the appropriateness of the phrase “to do a Waitangi”. No analysis of the ethics of identifying individuals to be targeted for attack. No analysis of whether or not the people of New Zealand shared Helen Clark’s views.

Framing Maori is a film that forces us all to ask these questions, about every item of news, every 6 o’clock bulletin, every story in which we, Maori, tend more often than not, to be framed as the baddies.

Of course, it’s not as if ‘framing Maori’ is reserved just to the television screen. My colleague, Derek Fox, pointed out that in the election campaign trail, the questions reserved for the Maori candidate are often predictable – how to deal to child abuse, crime, law and order.

I am proud to stand here tonight, to say, we are framing Maori in a different light.

Gideon Porter, in the documentary, talks about the challenge of providing a context in mainstream news. In a space of 90 seconds, he’d try to cram in a slice of history, the views of mana whenua about the issue – and the issue itself.

Well our context tonight, is a context of proud resilence and resistance, of survival, of celebration.

It is a story of kotahitanga, a story about revival and resurgence, a story of passion, of love for the people.

Wait a minute – is that news?

You tell me when a secret love story hasn’t been the news of the marae?

We in the Maori Party are framing news from a different angle. The angle of our kaupapa, the perspective of our people, their visions, their aspirations, their courage.

We are talking about the determination of iwi to stand strong, to preserve their land, to address the obstacles and challenges that confront us all.

We are talking about collective force, about being true to the Treaty, about maintaining integrity in the face of adversity.

This is our story. This is your story.

We refuse to be marginalised, criticised, victimised, polarised.

We refuse to be absent, silent, ignored.

We are here to stay and we will be successful beyond our greatest expectations. We will be powerful beyond even the realms of possibility. We will be tangata whenua, and we are amazing.

I want to congratulate Tere Harrison for her courage in putting our story out there. She had the tenacity to take on the mighty media monopoly; the corporate culture; to expose the built-in biases, to reflect back to us the limitations of eyes that will not see, ears that will not listen.

A line that lingers in the documentary is the populist pressure on mainstream media, ‘if it bleeds, it leads”.

But the question that doesn’t often get asked is whose blood is being spilt, whose tears are being conveyed?

Ko te ara ko taku tupuna, Ko nga ara mamae me te toto.

Ka hanga mo te aroha me te ora.

Tere Harrison reminds us of the paths walked by those who have gone before us. Paths of pain and blood, forged for the love and life to follow.

Framing Maori, fits into the frame of this incredible moment in time.

Eight days till the 8th of November. Eight days to be counted. Eight days to frame a new story. A story where we write the script, where we plot out our destiny.

All we are asking is that in the next eight days, you give upone day to help us make that difference, to choose to believe in yourself, in us, in the Maori Party.

To knock on doors, to fly our flags, to walk our talk.

To choose, to no longer be beholden to those on the left or the right, those who believe they know what is right, those who benefit from us being left behind and those seek to constrain and contain, to limit and control. No more we say, we are a people who are moving forward.

And like the ancestor Mokomoko who while standing at the gallows said "Take this rope from my neck so that I may sing my song"

We in the Maori party are saying to our people let us all sing our songs, let us take charge of our destiny.

All it takes is two ticks.


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