The John McLeod Scholarship and Te Apa Mareikura Awards
Asssociate Minister of Health
Friday 26 November; 9am Speech
The John McLeod Scholarship and Te Apa Mareikura Awards
Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Today we mihi to all those who have lost loved ones over the past year, month, week.
It is with those thoughts that I come today, to share in this special celebration which honours the legacy of five very significant people in all our lives – Dr John McLeod; Anne Delamere, Bill Katene, Denis Simpson and Rongowhakaata Wi Repa.
It is through upholding the memory of those who have passed on, that we find the hope and the inspiration to give honour to the difference they made in our lives.
Each of these people made such an important contribution to Maori health and our development as tangata whenua. Today I remember them, and I mihi to the whanau of these distinguished and greatly loved kuia and kaumatua.
The John McLeod Scholarships are named after the impressive reputation of Ngapuhi health advocate, Dr John McLeod.
John was someone who was known throughout the world for his work in public health; and the high calibre of his research. He was at the peak of an impressive medical and management career when in 1994 the nation mourned the loss of such a leading figure in Maori health.
The other group of awards, Te Apa Mareikura, demonstrate the distinguished leadership that we associate with four of our greatest community health workers.
We remember Bill Katene of Ngati Toa Rangatira, who was instrumental in fighting for better health services. Matua Bill was someone who served his family, his church and the wider community to every extent of his being.
Anywhere you went in Ngati Toa territory you would feel the impact of his presence.
He was Chairperson of Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira, chairperson of Whitireia Law Centre, had been chair of the DHB’s Maori Partnership board; kaumatua to the Capital and Coast DHB Board; and founding member of the Pauatahanui Inlet Community Trust and Porirua Healthlinks Trust – and that’s just some of the vast range of areas in which his leadership was felt.
Whaea Anne Delamere, from Te Arawa and Whanau-a-Apanui, was inspirational, influential and passionate about our people. When you saw her you would see the beauty of her smile and the grace of her presence before you felt the full force of her resolve.
She was someone who dedicated her life to the wellbeing of our people whether it be as a social worker, as a founding member of the Maori Women’s Welfare League or as one of the key mentors of the Tu Tangata strategy in the late 70s.
Denis Simpson, of Ngati Awa and Tuhourangi, was always ready with a chuckle, a word of advice, and careful guidance about what we might next seek to achieve in health. As Chair of Te Kaunihera Kaumatua Taurahere – the Wellington Council of Elders – he was always sought after for his tautoko, as a distinguished and well respected kaumatua throughout the Wellington region.
I have to say that one of my abiding memories of this kaumatua was when staff at Rimutaka got some new uniforms with a pukeko emblem. Denis said in his mihimihi that he hoped the emblem chosen wasn’t symbolic because the pukeko was the most useless bird he knew!
And finally we remember the lovable genius that we knew of Rongo Wirepa, of Ngati Porou, Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Rongowhakaata.
Rongo was someone – like all of these leaders – that I had great fondness for, and respected greatly. And I want to share some of the words he left us, as we think about his impact today:
Tatai whetu ki te Rangi, ka mau tonu, ka mau tonu
People live and pass on
but the land and stars in the universe remain forever.
Today I want to gently lay a challenge to these words – as Rongo would expect nothing less.
For what today’s ceremony is about, is to reflect that while people do live and pass on, their legacy will remain forever.
For while we weep for our loss, we also celebrate the new life that builds on the foundation left behind.
And so it is my pleasure to acknowledge five very special people who are taking up the mantle left by our leaders – Hori Barsdell, Philip Tane, Matiu Julian, Pirihia Roberts and Harata Te Amo-Simeon.
Each of these people has already made an indelible mark in shaping the nature of the communities around them. That influence has been most profound in creating health and wellness as an expectation of their communities.
They have helped to make the paradigm shift, from accepting one’s lot, taking up the cards that have been dealt; to instead calling for a complete reshuffle – a new deal.
That deal is when our spiritual, cultural, intellectual, mental and social health are accorded priority and value alongside of the physical.
Hori, Philip, Matiu, Pirihia and Harata all have career pathways specialising in Maori health. Yet they are also operating on many levels - as mentors, educators, social workers, coaches and cause champions all at the same time
And what really warms my heart is to know that while they have achieved academic success and medical qualifications, they are also superbly grounded in the institutions of te Ao Maori – our whanau, hapu, iwi, our marae, our learning entities.
I want to congratulate our five new leaders of today – whom I truly believe exemplify the standards of excellence set for them by the leaders of yesteryear.
These five scholars have trained and studied for every hour in the day. They have prepared themselves to work in the world of health workers, instinctively understanding that means they must have their eyes and ears open; and be everywhere. Not an easy task by any means.
But from what I have read of the stories of these five people, they are both multi-talented and multi-skilled. Indeed they are the archetype for our times – understanding that collaboration and cooperation are vital in leading communities forward.
As educators, they understand what it is to both challenge and support.
As coaches and mentors, they understand what it is to guide.
As whanau members, as social workers and as health professionals they appreciate the authentic voice of whanau as being of the utmost strength in achieving whanau ora.
And for all of those friends, colleagues and whanau who have the privilege to know them, to work with them, and to learn from them, we can understand that their contribution is huge and their leadership is destined to be far –reaching.
Finally, I want to leave our greatest tributes to all of the whanau who have nurtured the leaders of our past, our present and our future.
You have enabled your loved ones to create a legacy for our nation; you have supported them to express the leadership that was waiting to be released. We thank you, we honour you and we celebrate this amazing opportunity to acknowledge the health leadership within our midst.