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Speech: Turia - Launch of Murals, Streets Ahead 237

Launch of Murals, Streets Ahead 237

Te Akupuaga Cook Island Hall, Cannons Creek, Porirua

Thursday 26 January 2012

Hon Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru

Mayor Nick Leggett, Fa'amatuainu Wayne Poutoa and Jennifer Poutoa, founders of Streets Ahead 237, your Chairperson, Gregory Fortuin, councillors; dignitaries, whanau, aiga and all of the rangatahi involved in Streets Ahead 237 – and the EastSAFEside initiative.

Two days ago, at Ratana Pa, I was in a hui where a simple question was asked, “how can we share the knowledge to ensure all know of how brilliant life can be?”.

Coming here today, I think I have found part of the answer to that question.

Streets Ahead 237 has shown us so much more about the potential of the young people who come from the Creek, the East Side life.

And how absolutely appropriate it is today that our gathering is taking place on a stage right in the centre of this community – in the midst of the carpark.

This is a project which is very much of the community, for the community. It is an initiative driven by those people whom are proud to be known by a simple three digit telephone code - 237 says it all.

It is about responding to the passion and the diversity of the people who live in Porirua and most of all, it acknowledges the cultural wealth that this community is known by.

A couple of months ago, you couldn’t drive down Mungavin Street without being confronted with flags of all description. Cars were over-flowing with the flags of Samoa, of Tonga, of Fiji competing for space, and of course the Silver Fern was there too. Houses were – and still are – decorated with patriotic pride and the faces of our children literally became the beacon of hope in backing their team.

There was one clear message that came through.

Forget the assimilation myth that we are all one people.

Porirua people were proud to stand up and say, our culture counts, this is who we are.

I believe it was a statement of faith in Aotearoa – that we can celebrate diversity and be able to share the essence of who we are with each other.

In Streets Ahead 237 I see that same philosophy running through. This programme – and indeed the leadership that Wayne has demonstrated – are recognized as representing powerful changes in youth work and community development throughout the Porirua region.

I have had personal experience in observing the impact of his work upon young people who might otherwise have been alienated from their community. And I want to really mihi to Wayne and Jennifer – and to their seven tamariki and their mokopuna – who have devoted so much of their precious family time to supporting many other families and their young people.

On one level it has been a commitment to be brothers in arms.

The arms they talk about are not the weapons of the street – they are the arms meant to hold one another; arms to hug each other; the solidarity and the safety of being there for each other.

Wayne has dedicated himself to helping young people to focus on their potential to achieve. To restore their self-belief and to know that no matter what your life’s experiences are, you can be the change that you seek.

Wayne has been a finalist for the Wellingtonian of the Year Award; a recipient of the Vodafone Foundation World of Difference programme in 2008; and in 2010 he was awarded a certificate of recognition for outstanding contribution to the community by the Porirua Rotary Club. Wayne has also received a Kiwibank Local Heroes medal for his work.

But I think if you were to ask Wayne he would say it was never about him – or Jennifer – or the Poutoa family.

It was about the whole village – everyone knowing your business – working together to keep your neighbourhood safe and most importantly to protect the young people who call this place home.

It is about all of us taking up the mantle to be Champions of Change.

I am really proud to be here with you today, on your first anniversary.

I liken it to the concept of a first birthday for our mokopuna.

When we come together as a whanau we celebrate the child – but we also celebrate the grandparents, the parents, the siblings and all of the whanau who have taken on the responsibilities and the obligations that come with caring for a new baby.

This is what we are doing today.

And so I want to pay tribute to my good friend Gregory who has been involved with so many initiatives that have been about unleashing the powerful potential of our people.

I acknowledge our energetic Mayor Nick Leggett – and a Council who must surely be one of the most representative Councils in our land.

Porirua City Council is home for New Zealand’s youngest Councillor (Bronwyn Kropp was 19 when elected); the youngest Mayor; there are four Pasifika Councillors, two Maori, the veteran councillor Ken Douglas, and mothers of young children.

Indeed, the Council looks like your community.

Yet, just a dozen or so years ago, although 75% of Porirua were aged under 45 years ago, there was no-one under that age on the council.

And so I say to you all – celebrate the fact that this is a community that understands transformation.

The important thing about community representation is that it encourages local ownership.

Today we are here, therefore, to celebrate the spirit of rejuvenation that Streets Ahead 237 has brought to Porirua.

I congratulate you all on sharing the brilliance amongst you.

Your vision – to promote ‘stronger families building better communities themselves’ is one I wholeheartedly endorse.

It is indeed a mantra to live by.

Thank you all for creating the opportunity for transformation; for promoting safety and most of all for recognising families as the cornerstone of every community.

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