Speech: Turia - Hapai Te Hauora Tapui
Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Hapai Te Hauora Tapui -Fourth International Gambling Conference;
Auckland Crowne Plaza Hotel; Auckland City
It is an honour and a privilege, to be part of this special opening ceremony, to welcome you all to the fourth international conference – Shaping the future of gambling – positive change through policy, practice and research.
It is with the greatest respect that I welcome particularly our overseas visitors to Aotearoa. We have representation from some sixteen global nations, who have come to share your experience, your expertise and your dedication to addressing the all-enduring harm associated with problem gambling.
I want to make particular mention to our keynote speakers, Ashley Gordon from Brewarrina, Australia; Associate Professor Manuka Henare from the University of Auckland; Senator Nick Xenophon from South Australia and Professor Jim Orford from Birmingham.
While this morning represents the official opening of this hui, I want to also acknowledge the powhiri that took place at Orakei Marae, yesterday. In the process of powhiri we welcome you not just as individuals but as part of the larger collective.
The welcome that tangata whenua extend to those who are manuhiri, the visitors to their tribal lands, recognizes your ancestral heritage; the extended family from which you derive your place in this world; recognizing no-one walks alone.
I mihi then, to representatives from Ngati Whatua o Orakei who have opened their arms to welcome you to our world. Tena koutou katoa.
This hui is framed in the context of one of our whakatauaki, our traditional sayings.
Ma te kōrero ka mōhio, Ma te mōhio ka
mārama, Ma te mārama ka mātau, Ma te mātau ka
Through discussion comes understanding, through understanding comes light, through light comes wisdom, through wisdom comes wellbeing.
This is a message not just for the workforce involved in problem gambling research, treatment and prevention. It is a message which also extends past the reach of addiction counsellors, social workers, academics and policy makers.
This message is vitally important for family and friends – for the inner core of those who live in our world. It is that inner core that I wish to speak of today.
In te Ao Maori, we apply the metaphor of the flax bush, te pa harakeke, as a symbol for the environment and relationships within a family grouping. In the very centre shoot of that flax bush stands te rito, the child; protected and nurtured by the parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents that surround them. We might say, kua tupu te pa harakeke – the flax plant is growing – to represent the sustenance and survival of our whanau.
Central to this metaphor is the association that the whanau, as a whole, are strengthened by their connections to one another. Their common roots are nurtured through regeneration – the genealogical lines of descent keep them secure and able to grow. Together, it provides the hope of continuity; the foundation for their future.
My presentation to you today, is in the capacity of the Associate Minister of Health and the Minister for Whanau Ora –both of these portfolios are intimately connected to the notion of wellbeing. But the connection that I am particularly keen to share is that between the wellbeing of whanau – Whanau Ora – and the impact that social hazards such as gambling make in that regard.
For those unfamiliar with Whanau Ora – the word whanau describes our extended family – the descendants of a common ancestry; while ora is if you like the breath of life – the sense of wellbeing that runs through our veins.
Whanau Ora then, is driven by outcomes in which we hope to see families supported to achieve their maximum health and wellbeing.
I do not need to spell out for any of you gathered here today, how gambling harm detracts from the potential of families to achieve wellness and wellbeing.
One of the most depressing statistics I have come across lately is the New Zealand Health Survey showing Maori and Pasifika peoples were around four times more likely to be problem gamblers than the rest of the population.
We all know what sort of an impact that can have on our communities. Problem gambling has been shown to strip our families of everything they have – their savings, their house, their relationships. For communities who may already be struggling to make ends meet, it can be utterly soul-destroying.
So how can we change this story; how to ensure te pa harakeke is resilient; and sturdy; ready to counter any challenge.
This is where the Whanau Ora approach comes in.
Whanau Ora operates from the premise that services, providers and agencies are required to work collaboratively rather than persist with the single silo approach – isolating the individual from their family; or the condition being treated as the domain of one sector only.
In Whanau Ora we seek to enhance the capacity of whanau to be self-determining; to develop their own options. Providers may have Whanau Ora navigators or champions – helping to develop a whanau plan and to prepare for closer access to health and social services, if required.
But essentially the key to Whanau Ora is
about reducing the role of the state in people’s lives.
It is driven by the belief that local solutions are always
the most effective in enabling people to take control of
their lives. Whanau Ora invites our families to transform
their futures by reconnecting with those close to them, and
recognising what they need to do for themselves.
We currently have some 25 collectives, comprised of 158 service providers who have taken up the opportunity to operate in a whanau-centred way. And importantly, each of them are challenged by the need to measure outcomes – supporting whanau to focus on the longterm gains in wellbeing.
In the context of problem gambling, it is so good to see the problem gambling outcomes framework – and within that a standalone objective towards supporting Maori families to achieve their maximum health and wellbeing by minimising the negative effects of gambling.
If I have one message to anyone involved in the work to reduce gambling harm it would be that real engagement with families; tangible support where it is needed, and a sense of hope is critical to achieving change.
Finally, I want to address what many might think of as the elephant in the room – and that is the current negotiations between the Government and Skycity in relation to an international convention centre.
SkyCity has put forward particular requests, namely to extend their time-limited site license and to secure the ability to expand the number of tables and machines located on site.
As you will be all be aware, the Ottawa Charter encourages us all to understand the impacts of our environment upon public health. I am therefore pleased that the Minister for Economic Development, Hon Steven Joyce, understands this principle and has assured me that the overall economic benefit of the proposal has to outweigh any negative impacts before the Government will proceed.
There are also a couple of important preconditions that must be understood in any discussion around commercialised gambling. The first is that the requirements of both the Gambling Act 2003 and the Local Government Act 2002 stipulate that in any gambling developments in New Zealand there must be consultation with Maori and recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as our founding document.
The second is specific to the proposal under discussion, and that is that any changes to SkyCity's site licence or capacity will require legislative change. Therefore, it will be subject to the usual scrutiny of Parliament and the select committee, and the public will be able to make submissions.
As the Associate Minister of Health, and the Minister for Whanau Ora, I welcome the opportunity for the discussions to occur around this latest proposal, in order that the vital connections between problem gambling and health and social wellbeing are clearly laid out in the debate.
There are many significant issues that impact on our communities, but to my mind, the damage of gambling harm and the widespread influence it has on the wellbeing of the wider family is one of the most serious social hazards facing our communities.
I want to congratulate Hapai Te Hauora Tapui Maori Public Health, the Gambling and Addictions Research Centre at Auckland University of Technology and the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand for your leadership in hosting this conference; and for your determination to focus on solutions – to mobilise debate about how positive change can be created and meaningful outcomes achieved.
Across the globe the spread of gambling industries is rapidly evolving; expanding into those areas where our most vulnerable communities live; invading the family home through a myriad of means.
But therein lies the answer – if we can surround our whanau with strategies for protection and strength – then much like te pa harakeke, the flax bush, our families can prosper and thrive.
That is a future which I am confident all of us here today, can help to shape.
Tena tatou katoa