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Sharples: Adjournment Debate

Adjournment Debate
Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party
Wednesday 15 December 2010; 5.10pm

As we approach the year end, we think of all those families who will feel the loss of loved ones no longer with them. On this day, today, we acknowledge those who are mourning the passing of two tribal elders John Haunui, Waikato-Tainui kaumātua for the Kīngitanga; and Rongomaiāniwaniwa Milroy of Ngati Whakaue and of Te Arawa.

We recognise too, the clouds of grief that have hung over Aotearoa this year and particularly the 29 men who lost their lives in the Pike River Mine. Our thoughts are with them all.

The adjournment debate is customarily a time for reflection on the good, the bad and the indifferent that has shaped our year.

It has been a very big year for the Maori Party – and indeed for tangata whenua.

Just over eight months ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the opening session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

I will never forget the awesome sight of more than 2000 peoples rising to their feet, dancing in their own custom, to give a rousing ovation endorsing New Zealand’s decision to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

That moment in time was a fitting reward, for all those that have worked so hard in promoting our indigenous rights, and negotiating this agreement at an international level.

Back home, I am excited by the enthusiasm generated through my announcement in July that I was establishing a special ministerial panel to review te reo Maori, and in particular Government spending on the revitalisation of our language. Tangata whenua refuse to relinquish their rights to uphold their mother tongue. It is a marker of identity, of pride, of cultural strength.

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The Waitangi Tribunal’s report in October challenged Government to recognise the importance of Māori communities in revitalising the language; emphasizing that Māori ownership of the Māori language strategy is crucial to its success.

This will be an ongoing challenge which our nation must address and I am very confident that the panel, led by Professor Tamati Reedy, will guide us well.

Another key marker for the Maori Party this year has been the undeniable momentum gained with Whanau Ora. Around 160 providers are currently involved in the first wave of Whānau Ora within 25 provider collectives.

The basis of the approach is built around strong, collaborative relationships between providers and whanau; a focus on outcomes not activities and integrated contracting arrangements.

But the key to its success is about whanau transformation. It is about whanau building positive pathways to achieve their aspirations. Whanau Ora returns the power and control to whānau to be resilient, nurturing and to develop their own leadership.

Alongside of Whanau Ora I have been proud of the work we have done in implementing programmes such as Kaitoko whanau, Oranga whanau and Maara Kai. These programmes are targeted at supporting Maori whanau. Through the Christmas period I am sure there will be many whanau who will be enjoying healthy food from the gardens that they worked to create for the benefit of the wider community!

We have been working steadily to achieve improved outcomes in the justice sectors through the Drivers of Crime initiative. Next year we look forward to sharing the success of Whare Oranga Ake - the kaupapa-Maori reintegration unit where the focus will be on prisoners gaining employment, accommodation and improving family and wider social relationships.

And of course we anticipate great things ahead with the work we have been engaged with in the Rugby World Cup; the enterprise and initiative that has emerged from the Maori Economic Taskforce particularly after our visit taking Maori businesses to China; and of course the nation-building exercise being undertaken with the Constitutional Review.

I want to acknowledge the initiative of the Working Group on Constitutional Transformation led by Professor Margaret Mutu and Moana Jackson who are seeking to develop a model constitution based on Maori kawa and tikanga, He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Niu Tireni me Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The active engagement and leadership of iwi; the momentum generated by our Maori academics, our iwi leaders, our Maori scientists, artists, educators, our Maori authorities, our marae – has been of profound importance and influence in this Government and I want to acknowledge them all for their efforts and thank them for the substantial difference they make – ultimately for the fortunes and wellbeing of whanau, hapu and iwi.

There is, of course, still much to do. And we were not pleased with the Supercity process and the way in which Maori representation was diminished. While we are developing a positive relationship with His Worship Len Brown the broader issue of Maori participation in decision-making processes across local government remains high on the agenda.

There are still many challenges ahead – and we look forward to 2011 with renewed vigour in the debate around water, the passage of the Takutai Moana Bill, and the ongoing issues that confront too many of our whanau - the impact of poverty; family violence; educational under-achievement; and so much more.

The workload is formidable but the Maori Party is served well by a star team of SPSs and EAs, press secretaries, political advisors, out-of-office parliamentary staff and departmental secondees who are some of the most dedicated, hard-working and consistently positive people I have met. Ka nui te aroha ki a koutou.

Around this complex there is a workforce second to none. We are all indebted to the service and support provided to us by the Speakers Office, Cabinet Office, the Office of the Clerk, Hansard, the Bills Office, the Table Office, the ever-efficient library service, the expertise and professionalism of Ministerial and Parliamentary Services; our trusted Kaiwhakahaere o Nga Ratonga Reo Maori; the Hansard staff; the travel office who help us serve our constituency so well; the Cleaners and the Finance personnel – both doing their best to ensure we keep everything in order!

I often think that this place and all its inhabitants – would be ripe material for one of those Survivor reality shows.

All of us, left, right or the middle, have experienced the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; some of it motivated by political opponents; some of it provoked by an energetic press gallery; some of it our own doing.

But we are also joined by a common humanity - we share the sadness of missing significant family events; we feel the same frustrations; we lose sleep; we have health issues in our whanau; we celebrate our new babies; we grieve for those we have lost.

And I want to mihi to so many people who keep our spirits lifted; who support and sustain us through good times and hard. It is in everyday conversations we share with VIP drivers, security, the messengers, the Buildings staff, those on reception, at Bellamys; in the gym; and of course right across this House.

Finally, there are three special groups of people I want to mention.

The first is to recognise the hand of manaaki that was extended to us, the Maori Party, by John Key, in inviting the Maori Party to enter into a relationship with National. It has not been without challenge – but we are proud of the way in which our relationship has developed, and a spirit of co-operation emerged with some of the key Ministers around the table.

Secondly I want to mihi to Tariana, Te Ururoa, Rahui, Hone – who sacrifice so much for the good of our people. We have worked so hard – not just for the gains we have achieved, but importantly to retain faith with our people, and to keep our reputation high, as the strong and independent Maori voice of Parliament. Sure we have our disagreements, but we are all for the kaupapa, for Maori, and that is unbreakable.

And through it all, we acknowledge our wonderful whanau; who are the all-out stars of the Survivor series. It is because of their tautoko, their commitment to us and our party, that we are able to do what we do. Words can never reflect adequately the vital role our whanau play in this Parliament – for all of us here.

Mr Speaker, thank you for your distinguished and impressive leadership of the House. I wish you and all of our honourable colleagues, a restful summer with the people you love.

Ma te Atua koutou ko to koutou whanau e manaaki e tiaki i te wa o te Kirihimete.


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