Te Ururoa Flavell - Ainumosir (Hokkaida), Japan
Te Ururoa Flavell
MP for Waiariki | Maori Party Whip
21 January 2012
Ainumosir (Hokkaida), Japan
Shiro san Shimizu san, Shizuesan, Kaizawasan, Naomisa Prof. Nomotosan, Ekashi and Huchi no minasan Irankarapte
I acknowledge you Shiro Kayano, the leader of the Ainu Party for your bold spirit and your fierce determination to ensure the rights of Ainu people are being raised by Ainu people for the advancement and enlightenment of greater Japan.
It is indeed a great honour to be here in Ainumosir, with the home people; the people of the land.
You need to know that in Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand this moment in time, the moment in which the indigenous voice, the voice of the Ainu is heard, is in itself history-making.
Exactly one week ago, the national Maori Television news, Te Kaea, reported on the pending launch of the Ainu Party as the leading story on the news that night.
Maori have long upheld a respect and a commitment to supporting the Ainu, as our indigenous brothers and sisters across the Pacific. In 2008, five members from AMO – the Advancement of Maori Opportunity were present at the Indigenous Peoples Summit in Hokkaido Ainu Mosir.
And in September 2010, a thirty year friendship between sister cities led to Contemporary Traditions a collaboration between Otaru and Otago museums representing some of the best of Kai Tahu and Ainu works.
And I know that today’s proceedings have been eagerly welcomed by organisations such as Te Wananga o Aotearoa, one of our three Maori universities.
The Maori Party is extremely proud, therefore, to bring the best wishes of tangata whenua – the indigenous voices of Aotearoa – into this very exciting event.
Over seven years ago, on 10th June 2004, the Maori Party embarked on a similar journey to that which you enter today. Our intentions have always been to negotiate the very strongest position for Maori within Parliament, and to make gains in every field – our catchcry was that every issue is a Maori issue; what is good for Maori will be good for Aotearoa.
And I want to explain that in taking on the name, Maori, the name of the indigenous people of Aotearoa, we are deliberately taking on the full meaning of Maori – which means natural. I understand this may be very similar to the meaning of Ainu – as human.
We might say, for instance, ma te wai Maori tatou e tu ora: drinking pure natural water is good for your health!
The Maori Party therefore entered parliament with the aspiration to uphold indigenous values to ensure our country maintains its natural beauty and is home for all New Zealanders.
We started off with one Member of Parliament, Tariana Turia, who was elected as the first Maori Party MP and entered Parliament on 27 July 2004.
In 2005, after the General Election, she was joined by three others, myself included. We took on the challenge of Opposition, learning the protocols and expectations in the House; developing our political experience; and trying to take our people along with us in that journey.
It has not been an easy road, but in the 2008 Parliament and the 2011 Parliament we have successfully taken up an arrangement with the Government, which has enabled us to achieve a vast range of initiatives through our working relationship across Government portfolios, while also Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, our co-leaders, taking on ministerial responsibilities as well.
In the most recent Government Tariana and Pita has ministerial responsibilities in education, health, housing, social development, Corrections, employment, disabilities, Maori Affairs and our own initiative Whanau Ora – literally the wellbeing of our families. While we have made these gains, we have developed a relationship accord that has allowed us to vote against our partner if any act of law is contrary to the views held by our party.
I want to be really clear with you that it’s not enough to have political representation – political authority is vital if we are to open up the opportunities our people seek to make the difference we need.
Being in an arrangement with Government provides us with immediate access to Ministers. And importantly it has enabled us to throw open the doors of parliament to ensure our people are able to be at the table, telling their stories, being heard.
We hope that the establishment of the Ainu Party will contribute along with other initiatives to ensure your culture, your livelihood, your values and traditions are being preserved, promoted and protected.
This is a day to celebrate also the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and I know that right across the globe other indigenous movements share our pride and our excitement as you commit to take on local and national politics.
We – the Maori Party of New Zealand –wish you much courage; resilience and strategic talent – as you strive to be heard at the highest levels of government.
This is indeed a very significant day in the history of the Ainu, and the future of greater Japan.
We congratulate you all on this remarkable event, and look to forward to sharing in your developments as you go from strength to strength; maintaining your cultural integrity while seeking every opportunity to exert political influence.
We as Maori have been along with the journey you now embark on. We know the challenges and hurdles that you may face but with unity and vision, a strong desire from the heart and willingness to set a platform for your children and grandchildren, anything is possible.
The fact this day has come about is a testimony to your resilience. We wish you well. May your ancestors be with you. The Maori party of New Zealand is with you on this great day. Congratulations and thank you inviting us and looking after us. We are humbled and proud to be with you.