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Speech: Turia - Hugs not Thugs Campaign

Hon Tariana Turia


Minister Responsible for Whanau Ora
Associate Minister of Social Development and Employment


Saturday 27 November; 11am Speech
Hugs not Thugs Campaign - Waitomo Papakainga, Kaitaia

Last Saturday I was at an event in Taupo, when all of a sudden a thundering noise broke through the air, as a convoy of Harley Davidsons rode into town.

It was the Super Maori Fullas – a campaign to attract the attention of New Zealanders to encourage us all to live violence-free lives.

The ride to freedom was led by a man who was proud to introduce himself as the brother of Katie Murray.

And so today, it feels like I have come full circle to be here in Kaitaia, with our wonderful sister Katie, and all of the whanau at Waitomo Papakainga.
The thundering noise that we welcome today, is the sound of applause for another great idea – the hugs not thugs campaign.

And I want to mihi to the organisations that have come together to make this campaign work – Waitomo Papakainga, Whare Timatanga Hou, He Korowai Trust, Whareruruhau a Meri, Te Oranga and Ngati Kahu Health and Social Services.

I have to admit my preference today, is just to focus on the Hugs part of the plan – rather than the thugs; the jugs, the mugs or the slugs that serve to get in the way.

It’s a wonderfully simple idea that can inspire us all to take action.

And I want to let you know, that whenever I go out on the road, my team back in Wellington help me prepare for the day by researching all relevant information.

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I come to you today, with some breaking news revelations about Hugs. Hugs are apparently reported to be the universal medicine.

Hugging has no unpleasant side effects or contraindications. Hugs are 100% natural, with no chemical additives, no batteries to replace, non-polluting and of course fully refundable.

In fact, as we approach the Christmas season you might be interested to learn that a hug is the ideal gift. Great for any occasion, one size fits all, non-fattening, fun to give, and totally inflation proof and GST free.

The scientists inform me that hugs are an excellent means for transferring energy from one person to another; particularly useful to replenish depleted energy at a time when spirits are low.

And perhaps the finding that clinched the deal for me, was that a hug is two hearts wrapped in arms.

A day like today, a campaign like this one, makes us all feel the world is a better place.

And isn’t that exactly what a hug is all about?

Remember when we were little, and we knew that as long as our Nanny held us in her arms, we were safe from all harm.

Think about the hugs we received when we had been away from home for a long time; and how good it felt to know we were home.

Or the times of great sadness, of despair and darkness, when the hugs of our whanau helped to find a light for us to follow.

The kaupapa of the Far North Maori Providers Community Child Abuse Campaign is exactly right – it is about finding solutions that fit our whanau; it is about helping us all to take back control, to do what we know best.

How many times have we been at tangi, or sat by the hospital bed of a loved one, and wanted just to be able to hug them, to kiss them, and to tell them once more how much we love them?

Your campaign is all about making the most of every moment – taking up every chance that life offers to demonstrate our aroha in action. There are no repeats; no rewinding the clock.

Our children are our greatest treasure, and we must invest in their wellbeing; to respect the mana and tapu of mokopuna as precious.

I am really inspired by the efforts you have all made, to ensure your mokopuna grow up in a world where violence is not acceptable, where their environments are drug and alcohol free; where hugs are freely given.

It is also exciting to learn that in the next Mana magazine there will be a feature on Waitomo Papakainga so that whanau throughout Aotearoa can learn from the ideas and the strategies you have introduced in your community.

And I come back to those Super Maori brothers I met last week. That is essentially the reason for your success.

Your strength is in your commitment to your whanau – the investment you have made in whanaungatanga, in whakapapa, in aroha.

You have expressed your commitment to manaakitanga – to uphold the dignity of all those around you.

You know the issues, what works and what doesn’t – and so from that you have come to do things the right way.

It is about establishing our whanau tikanga around caring for our mokopuna; placing value on korero, on tautoko, on awhi.

And I ask us all to think about the first time we laid eyes on a newborn baby, and to remember that instant attraction that made us want to reach out our arms and embrace them in ours.

That is what we are asking of ourselves now, for all of our children, for all of our mokopuna.

Let us surround our whanau with hugs; holding our family close as we take up our responsibilities to them as parents, as grandparents, as whanau. We want to keep our families safe; for our children to grow up and have happy, healthy relationships.
As we come to the end of the White Ribbon week campaign, let us remember that we can wear a white ribbon in every single area of our life – our home, our business, our sports club, our board room.

Let us have the courage to talk openly about family violence; to challenge abusive behaviour, to make a stand against comments, statements and actions that seek to frighten or humiliate another.

All it takes is a hug, to know that we are loved and can love in return.

Thank you for letting me be part of this wonderful day, and I know this campaign is going to be the start of a prosperous and positive summer for us all.

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