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Tariana Turia Speech Te Whakaruruhau Maori Women's Refuge

Tariana Turia Speech Te Whakaruruhau Maori Women's Refuge, Hamilton
Opening of their new whare

Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Social Development and Employment
Thursday 8 September 2011; 10am

Twenty five years ago Te Whakaruruhau was established as the first Maori Women's Refuge in Aotearoa.

Ever since those early days, Te Whakaruruhau has been known as breaking new ground, providing the leadership and the inspiration for working with whanau in a way which would best result in wellness and wellbeing.

And so I am absolutely delighted, having shared the journey over the years, to now be here with you all, celebrating the opening of your new safe-house.

I have to say, I have a special fondness for Whakaruruhau.

I have the utmost respect for the women who have shaped the culture, the environment and the approach followed in the safe house model.

I mihi in particular to Ruahine Albert and Ariana Simpson who are both wonderful beacons of hope in a field which might otherwise be shrouded in despair. They are both staunch champions of the human spirit who have done so much to encourage those working in family violence to place their faith in whanau. Tena korua.

What has always impressed me about Whakaruruhau is that it is driven by the needs of whanau.

I was told a story the other day about the Unit Manager of Te Ao Marama - the Maori Focus Unit at Waikeria Prison. He was amazed that at hearings of the New Zealand Parole Board Whakaruruhau workers had supported the male prisoners - the first time he'd ever seen women's refuge workers in such a role.

I was not at all surprised - it was exactly what I would expect of Whanau Ora - taking the needs of the whanau into account; knowing that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable members.

Whakaruruhau has been a pioneer in supporting women to achieve their visions within the context of their whanau.

You have been able to wrap programmes and services around the women, that fit their own unique circumstances. Agencies of the state have been invited in when needed - and just as importantly - the women have been able to go out on their own, when they are confident and prepared to do so.

But it is not just the wider needs of whanau that Whakaruruhau take into account, it is also the holistic care of the women and the children who stay in the safe houses, or attend the programmes and services.

It is about providing them with practical support as well as someone walking alongside them; advocating for them; actively encouraging them to determine their own destiny.

And I think it is an interesting coincidence that today is also International Literacy Day - and that the theme for 2011 is 'building peace in the minds of men and women'.

It is a wonderful challenge - how do we build peace in the minds of men and women? How do we foster whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, wairuatanga? How do we create peace in our homes, in our lives, in our workplace?

And inevitably I come back to this concept of whakaruruhau - and a very dear friend of mine - the late Irihapeti Ramsden.

Irihapeti introduced the health profession to the concept of te kawa whakaruruhau - cultural safety - showing us how the awareness of our attitudes and practices helped to empower nurses to care better for patients from other cultures.

And so I think about health literacy; about financial literacy; about cultural competency; about reading the world - reading ourselves.

How do we change the mindset of all our people, to believe in their own power and potential; to really focus on our strengths and our own solutions?

What we have seen with the momentum generated by Whanau Ora is that whanau potential is ripe for transformation.

We have the highest of hopes for our whanau; knowing that their vision for tomorrow has every chance of leading our nation forward.

What we must do now - whether at Whakaruruhau or in our own whanau - is to ensure our future is anchored on the solid foundation of our own aspirations, our own experience.

And then we must set our direction onwards, to grow the model, to normalize Whanau Ora, and to establish our own incentives for ensuring our whanau are the very best they can be.

I have a keen interest in encouraging us all to see the world through the whanau lens - to assess any opportunity, any intervention as to what impact it will have on whanau.

I want to congratulate you all for an amazing quarter century of commitment to our whanau.

You might have heard the saying - anyone can make a noise; but what we want is to make a difference.

In your own unique way, Whakaruruhau must be celebrated for your resilience; your dedication and the investment you have made in whanau wellbeing.

You have certainly made the difference - and I thank you for helping us all lift our eyes to the possibilities and the potential.

Tena tatou katoa

Authorised by Tariana Turia, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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