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Speech: Whanau Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow - Tariana Turia

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister Responsible for Whanau Ora

Pipitea Marae, Wellington
Thursday 4 August 2011, 9am
'Whanau Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow'
Speech

Thank you Chief Commissioner Carl Davidson, for your words of welcome and indeed for the opportunity to be here today.

I am truly happy to be here today, to celebrate whanau yesterday, today, tomorrow.

It’s no secret that I’m what you might call a whanau fundamentalist. I believe our whanau are fundamental to our future; they are the source of our greatest strength; their experience and their history the ultimate guidance for our actions tomorrow.

And so I genuinely can think of no better place to be than at this wananga, examining and contemplating the best that we can be.

The focus for our discussions today is he ara whakamua ; building pathways to a better future.

And it is absolutely appropriate that we remind ourselves of what is important in our lives, what matters most. Inevitably we find that answer in our whanau.

It makes for such a positive change to be surrounded by a roomful of people who genuinely believe that whanau are the eighth wonder of the world.

And I want to congratulate you all for the deliberate act of courage you have demonstrated in promoting the strengths within whanau, hapu and iwi as drivers of positive change.

Against a rising tide of statistics which leave little room for hope, you have instead chosen to focus on stories of whanau success.

In this gathering today we have people who stand up for the power and potential of whanau.

We have people who have stood up against the system, spearheading a language revolution simply by uttering the words Kia Ora.

We have the most honourable of dames and doctors alike; who have carved out a future for all our mokopuna, by investing in whanau as the catalyst for change.

Every day I wake up to a new dawn, I think of my precious mokopuna. I want so much for them. They are, if you like, the living messages that we send to a time we will not see.

And in that picture, we know their future is directly linked to our past – through the connection of whakapapa that joins us in an unbreakable link. Yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Whanau Ora has risen out of the faith of our tupuna, in believing our own solutions offer Aotearoa a rich source of knowledge for planning and development.

They knew that change would not come from picking off our families one child at a time, targeting individual development, measuring it against universal benchmarks, and then plotting the progress on a graph.

They believed that for te pa harakeke to flourish, it needed the matua, the whanau gathered around to protect, to nourish, to love and to grow

And they understood that knowledge emerged not just out of a book, but passed down through the memories we share, the waiata, the karakia, the haka that speak to us of situations unique to our people.

If we ever had any doubt of their wisdom, the Tribunal’s report into WAI 262 has made it blatantly clear how critical the role of language and culture is to a strong and vibrant identity. We remember the legacy of Sir James Henare “Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Maori” – the language is the core of our Maori culture and mana.

I say this at a time when we continue to struggle to have our reo spoken daily in our homes, because our country as a whole does not value it. Our children want so much to be part of a society that is inclusive.

Whanau Ora provides us with a pressing impetus for the gathering of whanau korero. We must tell our stories to revitalize the essence of who we are. It is about making connections explicit; being proud of the roles we play as custodians of culture; protecting the values of kaitiakatanga as we care for our world around us.

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My mother had me when she was 26 years old, and at that time there was some question that I might be adopted to an aunt and uncle who lived at Putiki. But then my uncle – Tariuha Manawaroa Te Awe Awe - whom really was my dad in every sense of the word – stepped in, and took me home

And so I was raised by my grandmother, Hokiwaewae Uru Te Angina, and my Dad and his wife Mihiterina. I lived at Whangaehu until my aunt died when I was only eight, and I had to move into town and live with another aunt and uncle who were my godparents.

If I was to tell this story in some circles, they might think I was the product of a mixed up childhood. But actually I consider that I have been extremely blessed to have had people who have loved me, and guided me, and invested in me – to nurture in me dreams for myself and my family.

I have never lived alone. I have been shaped by the values and aspirations others have had of me – and in turn I feel deeply, profoundly aware of the responsibilities and the obligations I have been born into. That is Whanau Ora.

I continue to see this today in my children and grandchildren who have picked up the mantle of responsibility and obligation to serve our whanau and hapu.

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I believe that Whanau Ora heralds a transformation in our own lifetimes. We are leaving behind the industry of misery to focus instead on what it will take to achieve the best outcomes for whanau.

The transformation is based on the premise that whanau are the best people to take ownership of their solutions; and accordingly whanau must be empowered and supported as a whole, to achieve the best outcomes.

This is a shift from what WE will do for you, to what whanau will do for themselves.

No one else – the state or the providers it funds – fixes up the issues that confront whanau. Only when the whanau are able to acknowledge what they need to do themselves, can others support their way forward.

But the reorientation also demands a co-operative spirit from Government and providers alike, to agree that whanau must drive their own solutions.

Whanau Ora, therefore, transforms social service delivery to focus on whanau potential. It requires a willingness for collaboration between funders, providers, practitioners and whanau to enable effective resourcing, and competent and innovative solution seeking.

Successive governments have tried to encourage agencies to work together, to better co-ordinate and align their service settings. That work is important, but I want to emphasize that the most significant aspect of Whanau Ora is about all of us placing our trust in whanau.

Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana used to talk about Whanau Hou – the opportunity to be reborn into the folds of whanau, to be given another chance.

We have the greatest opportunity to open our hearts, to love and be loved; to inspire us all to believe in the essence of whanau taking back their responsibility and obligations to care for each other to meet the needs of each other, to love and nurture and have faith in each other, to know that it is within them to achieve all that is possible.

We believe passionately in helping Whanau Ora to work

Some of you here today are leading the charge at a Regional Leadership Group level.

I want to also acknowledge the wisdom and the insights of the Governance Group including Professor Sir Mason Durie, Rob Cooper, Nancy Tuaine, Doug Hauraki and the Chief Executives of Te Puni Kokiri, Health and Social Development.

But more than anything else – the success of Whanau Ora depends on you and I and our whanau katoa. It relies on our momentum, on our decision to live with the eternal belief that our whanau can live up to their fullest potential.

Whanau Ora is intrinsincally linked to the need to build relationships. Relationships of trust between whanau, between one another, between agencies and providers.

It is about developing confidence in one another; respecting our differences, working together.

And it is fundamentally about faith. Some of us may call this te hunga wairua – some may call it ture wairua – some may call it taha wairua – it is always that spiritual element, belief.

I cannot help but make that connection when I look at the bright young face of Hinurewa Poutu who graces the front cover of the book Minister Parata will launch tonight.
In that cover picture Hinurewa looks upwards to the legacy of our tupuna Tinirau, and his words of wisdom: toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua. It is a calling to hold fast to our culture; to cherish our language and our land, as the essence of being Maori.

As we gather here today, across the road in the Beehive a historic announcement is being made of the members of the group to lead the nation in the process of constitutional review.

And I am immensely proud to announce that Hinurewa is one of the 12 members who will help to take us forward, into the future our mokopuna will inherit.

The photo of Hinurewa also shows her looking out at majesty of the mountain range she stands in front of. It inevitably reminds me of the wisdom of our whakatauaki – whaia te iti kahurangi ki te tuahu koe me he maunga teitei: pursue that which is precious; if you must bow, let it be to a lofty mountain.

And of course I think of Koro Ruapehu, of our awa tupua – to be born of our mountains, our rivers, our whenua.

And so it seems to me a tohu if ever there was one – that through the beautiful young face of Hinurewa, we see a direct link to yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Finally, I can not leave this occasion without acknowledging the expertise and passion of Dr Kathie Irwin, the Chief Maori Advisor to the Families Commission.

If anyone is every searching for motivation, I’d encourage you to watch Kath in action as her brainstorms fill the page, rich with creativity, bursting with ideas.

Today marks a milestone for the Family Commission, in farewelling two remarkable men from its midst.

My association with Gregory Fortuin – and his wonderful family – dates back to 1995 when he came to Pakaitore, to support the iwi with some understanding of the issues.

This was before he was appointed the first Honorary Consul of the new South Africa by Nelson Mandela. He was our Race Relations Conciliator in 2001 and 2002; he was founding chair of the Youth Suicide Awareness Trust and he has played a pivotal role in assisting the connection of the Commission with communities throughout the country.

I thank you for your dedication, your dynamic character and your sensitivity to the issues that confront our nation.

I have the utmost respect for the enormous contribution that Kim Workman has made to the Families Commission.

Kim, you are an absolute inspiration to so many of us. Your honesty in sharing your own journey; your persistent optimism and your relentless pursuit of whanau rangatiratanga will be a legacy we will seek to uphold for years to come.

I promise to you that I will do my very best to ensure the Commission continues to benefit from a strong and independent Maori voice– to ensure the priceless difference you have made will be embedded into future practice. Thank you for your leadership; and your commitment.

We are on the brink of something wonderful – and that is to know the secret of our own success. I am delighted to officially open this hui and in doing so, to celebrate and to recognise all of our whanau, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

ENDS

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