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Speech: Turia - He ara whakamua, pathways forward

Nga Ngaru Hauora o Aotearoa; Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Maori and Te Roopu Mate Huka o Aotearoa : Hui a Tau 2011
He ara whakamua, pathways forward : Maori mai, Maori atu
Novotel Tainui, Hamilton

Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Health
Friday 12 August 2011, 3.45pm

I have been looking forward to being here with you today; to be joining you in the pathway forward – He ara whakamua.

I have to share with you, that in all honesty, sometimes I attend hui and without realizing it I am scanning the room for a Maori face; searching out that connection, Maori mai, Maori atu.

Today as I look around me, I see in this hui connections which link me through whakapapa and the most precious ties of whanau. I see hauora Maori providers; whanau with diabetes; Maori nurses; I see me.

And it is only fitting that in coming here to Waikato I think of the legacy enduring from people such as Princess Te Puea who reminded us “If I am to dream, I dream alone. If we all dream together then we shall achieve”.

Those words are remarkable – not just in motivating us to think of our collective obligations and responsibilities; but also in setting out the challenge that continues to face us – what are our collective wawata; our aspirations as whanau, hapu and iwi which provide us with our pathway ahead?

We need to be bold, to be strong, to stand up for what is right. For if we can't speak up for ourselves who will?

I am so pleased you have come together so you can present a clear concerted voice.

That voice can and must be heard in board meetings, whanau hui, on talkback, in the House of Representatives, and in our homes.

Coming together is not just about the warmth of kotahitanga. It can also mean you are a collective voice to be reckoned with.

You might apply the momentum of your voice to argue that if we are serious about diabetes prevention we must give serious commitment to investing in bariatric surgery.

Or you might apply scrutiny to the roles of DHBs as funder and provider.

As Maori providers we know that you have invested so much in wonderful Maori nurses and health workers who end up being poached in front of your very eyes.

If we don't speak up for ourselves who will?

I want to really mihi to the initiative and the insight demonstrated by those who have created the Hauora Cluster.

In coming together as a collective - Nga Ngaru Hauora o Aotearoa; Te Kaunihera o Nga Neehi Maori and Te Roopu Mate Huka o Aotearoa – you have already taken a significant step in our journey forward – and I can see from the quality of the speakers you have had in your programme that your journey will be one which is purposeful, and proudly determined by tangata whenua.

The concept of a pathway is of course a long established tradition in our tribal lore.

Our customary practice of observing the patterns set by the star constellation, Matariki and Puanga, connect us to a practice of orientation and direction while all the time acknowledging those who have passed before us.

All of us understand that in he ara whakapapa our genealogy provides us with the pathway forward, building from our inherent strengths that our tupuna have laid down for us.

We see the reverence accorded strategic planning in every tukutuku panel that replicates the vision of the poutama – the ever dynamic journey of life.

And so, as you have come together to work together for the betterment of all our people – what have been the milestones and the markers that you have set for your journey?

He aha te huarahi? I runga i te tika, te pono me te aroha.

What will characterise your pathway? Will it be a pathway that is guided by what is right? A pathway of integrity? A commitment to compassion, to courage, to challenge?

I am drawn to the words of another great woman - born in Kawhia, early in the 19th century, of Ngati Toa and Ngati Raukawa – Rangi Topeora.

I connect to her through her brother Te Rangihaeata and our kuia rangatira Te Rangi Pikinga.

But I connect also to the words she left us in one of her waiata:

E hira hoki au, i aku tumanako, e kai nei te aroha.
A notorious one am I, because of my heart’s desires and so utterly consumed with love.

If there is one message I see through the transformation we are witnessing with Whanau Ora it is to restore to ourselves our belief in ourselves. It is to reacquaint ourselves with the stories that define us; the lessons of our tupuna; to take control of our own lives.

I firmly believe that Whanau Ora heralds a transformation in our own lifetimes; and that transformation is to be so utterly consumed with love. We are the best rongoa for ourselves.

It is a transformation based on the hope we dare to have for ourselves – that we can be self-managing; that we can live in ways which are health-enhancing; that we can be full participants in every aspect of our lives.

Whanau Ora is about setting ourselves goals – it is pragmatic while being grounded in optimism. And it is about getting our focus firmly fixed on what is right with us – not being dragged down by what is wrong.

I am a believer in the rally call set by Chilean writer Pablo Neruda: Let us rise up against the organisation of misery.

We are surrounded and submerged with messages of defeat – that tell us all that is wrong with us. We are poor; we are disenfranchised; we are unemployed and so it goes on.

And who better than this audience to know there is a grim reality that each of us lives every day. The reality that Maori are almost four times as likely to die from diabetes as non-Maori. And you all know the rest.

But our greatest challenge must be – not to replicate these statistics ad infinitum – but to instead rise up against the forces that be, that have invested in misery – and to stand, tall and proud, armed with ourselves.

We must invest in hope; surround ourselves with the vision of all that we can achieve.

When I was checking out the lyrics of that waiata of Rangi Topeora I came across a description underneath her rather stunning portrait. The line under the painting read “Proud to the end of her days and disdaining European clothing, she remained a commanding figure….a Maori to the last”

And I thought what a wonderful way to be – a Maori to the last! Maori mai, Maori atu.

In these two days together I understand you have had various presentations from right across the motu – from Te Roopu Tautoku ki te Tonga, from Whanganui, from Waipareira, from Ngati Kahu. You have had presentations on Maori Frameworks. You have heard the challenges and the wisdom of tauira nurses.

There are some amazing opportunities ahead of you, ahead of us. The leadership programme, Nga Manukura o Apopo, provides us with a platform for Maori nurses to be shaping our health targets.

The Hauora Maori scholarship programme has awarded 547 scholarships to tertiary students undertaking health related studies.

We have an amazing record number of 3126 Maori secondary school students recruited into health career pathways at both Otago and Auckland Universities.

The Whakapiki Ake programme at Auckland University has graduated close to three hundred Maori in medicine, health sciences, nursing, and pharmacy.

And I have been delighted and excited by the ideas that have come through the Maori Health Innovation Fund I launched in 2009. That fund has enabled some amazing projects which are centred around the vision of Whanau Ora – recognising the interconnections of health, education, housing, justice, employment, oranga Marae, workforce development, whanau wellbeing.

We have been so inspired by these different practices that the Ministry is establishing a project to showcase all the models – Te Pataka Auahatanga – the storehouse of innovation.

There is a future ahead, rich with possibility.

As we come to the end of this conference the challenge now, is to transform and interpret the knowledge, the shared learnings, the passion of the people who have come together over these two days – and to ensure it makes sense for whanau.

When I was invited to speak at this hui, I was told that the message of this meeting was very clear. We want the participants to come to the Hui as themselves, (Maori Mai); gain additional knowledge and networks and then leave our Hui enriched, as themselves (Maori Atu).

I am drawn to say – go forth and multiply – but in case my words are misinterpreted - of course you know it is about rising up against the tyranny of misery; becoming utterly empowered with the love of being Maori; setting forth on our pathway to the future – and holding true to our whanau as our greatest source of strength.

If we all dream together then we shall achieve.

Tena tatou katoa

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