Turia Speech At Maori Women's Refuge
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Social Development
Chair of Ministerial Committee on Family Violence
Saturday 20 November 2010; 6pm
Te Whare Oranga Wairua; Maori Women’s Refuge, Taupo
‘Momo Kakahu o te wa’
Thank you to Mahia Te Tomo for the opportunity to be with you this night.
What an awesome sight to see the Super Maori Fullas here in force – men who are prepared to stand up and be counted – to promote the goal of violence free whanau and a violent free society.
You give credence to the right of our women to be supported by men and their brothers.
I am very pleased to be here with you all.
Within the space of 24 hours, I came across two young Maori people who fit along the awesome spectrum of the tangata whenua tree.
There was a young, highly successful business entrepreneur, who revealed amongst a room of others, that their family had recently discovered their grandmother’s Maori heritage.
Within his family, suddenly the stirrings of whakapapa were being unleashed. A new journey of discovery awaited, as connections would be realised, and knowledge acquired.
And then there was blonde-haired, blue-eyed Hinetaapora Short from Rotorua who has been selected out of more than 1500 entries to become the new 21st century Milky Bar Kid.
Today’s version – at just eight years of age – was not only the ultimate winner from more than 11,000 votes received; but she’s fluent in te reo rangatira, she speaks Spanish, and she’s a proud student of Te Kura o Te Koutu.
And I thought of the amazing richness; the talented potential and the extraordinary versatility that comes with being Maori today.
Tonight is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the pulsing whakapapa that flows through our veins. It is our time to treasure the ha; the taonga tukuiho passed down from our ancestors.
It is our moment to bask in the awesome wonder of our absolute uniqueness – our mauri, our ahua ake, our wairua, our whanau.
In the long poem by Keri Hulme, Fishing the Olearia Tree, she includes these lines
Feel the mud under your toes. Feel this deep, warm inviting mud – no shells or sharp things to harm your skin – just a squelching friendly mud. Just an easeful welcoming mud. Protective mud. In the beginning there was mud. In this end, mud.
And we remember, the first woman, Hineahuone, was shaped out of the bare dirt of our whenua. We cling to our earth mother, Papatuanuku, who we must protect as she protects us.
And we remember that in the end, the waters flow on. As the pepeha of our tupuna remind us
Ko te wai anake e rere ana Ko te whakaaro tahi ki te whakapono.
This is what it is to be and live and love the essence of what it means to be tangata whenua.
It is about our hopes and dreams for all our mokopuna, that they will experience the wonder of their whakapapa, their history, and the taonga that have been passed on for them.
It is about walking the talk – not just knowing how to say the karakia, or sing the waiata, but how to live their intent. It is about valuing and respecting all who belong to them – tamariki, kuia, kaumatua, matua.
It is about exciting all our whanau into the sense of future possibilities, to inspire them to be as visionary and entrepreneurial as we know our ancestors were before us.
Some of you may know the poem, Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou. I want to share the last two verses
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide Welling and swelling I bear in the tide
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave I am the dream and the hope of the slave, I rise, I rise, I rise.
This poem is a wonderful act of resistance and inspiration all at once. It reminds us to remember, just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, we can rise.
There is so much in her poem that I relate to as tangata whenua, and as wahine Maori.
I didn’t want to come here today to focus on the terror and the fear that far too many of our wahine and our mokopuna have had to bear.
Every single one of us in this room knows that reality.
But every single one of us also knows that it is the fundamental right for all of our whanau to live free from violence.
Finally, I want to return to the words of another wahine Maori, Roma Potiki – and read out her whole poem, This Woman Fine.
There are women now, in tune.
Women who have not been trained in time but out of step with their own footfalls, booting themselves along the city streets.
Who are you to come with rural gifts saying you have a story that will show us the way?
Your story is only part of the crying and laughing we know
It is the korowai of experience we share.
It is not made in this town or that, it belongs not on this shore or that lakefront, neither with this or that mother, The shelter is both sky and earth, All on, below, between and above are the story –
This tongue flies, this one is hesitant.
This woman finds her time, this one loses it, this woman is in place, this woman is not placated and speaks silently of escape, this one is still herself This one compromises so her family can continue….. It is a similar air and water.
Marama moves herself in orbit to our sorrows.
This one moon painting the old story.
Try again tired arms strong spirit strum sing women Painted eye bird, higher than pain
Burning down on our midnight stream.
We all know the challenges that face us within our whanau, hapu and iwi; of whanau members who feel they are not in tune; who are dragged down by their situations, who have lost their way.
And so in this night to celebrate being Maori and the mana that comes with that, I turn to the korowai of experience we all share.
We must ensure that our korowai stretches wide enough to embrace all members of whanau wherever they are, and whatever situation they are in.
We have a collective responsibility to our own, to provide them with the care and confidence that restores peace and strength to their lives.
To reconnect all of our whanau to the treasures that have been left behind for them.
I think of our maunga, awa, whenua, marae.
Our waiata, karakia, our korero, the whariki we lay down for the next generations.
We think of the warmth of Papatuanuku, the protection of Ranginui; and the lush and thriving vitality of Tangaroa, of Tane Mahuta, of Haumietiketike and all our atua.
Let our homes honour the vision of wellbeing that our tupuna left for us. Let every home be a place of safety, of love; a place where healthy relationships are the norm; where pride and identity is central to a sense of self.
I want to thank each and everyone of you for the courage that you demonstrate on a daily basis to stand up and create a life that is free of violence.
And I congratulate you for your optimism, your energy and your powerful sense of self-belief, that encourages us to know that yes, this woman is fine; this whanau is fine.
Because Still we Rise to be the very best that we can be.