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Speech: Turia - Blessing of Habitat Home

Hon. Tariana Turia; Associate Minister of Housing

Blessing of Habitat Home at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland
Sunday 25 March 2012; 2pm

Talofa lava, tena koutou katoa,

There is a whakatauki, a proverb that we use as Maori – ma tou rourou, ma taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi. With your food basket, and mine the iwi will thrive.

This proverb speaks to the power of working together. It tells us that our tupuna valued the small contributions that each member of the community made towards ensuring that the wellbeing of the wider community was catered for.

When I thought about this event today, and the work that Habitat for Humanity undertake with communities – I thought of this whakatauki, and how nicely it fits around the work that you do.

The philosophy of Habitat for Humanity, of working in partnership with people of goodwill and families in housing need, is a fantastic example of how we can harness our collective strength to produce outcomes that not only change the lives of individuals, but little by little contributes to the social transformation of our communities.

So I congratulate your organisation for leading this wonderful vision, and taking the time to harness the collective power of the communities around us.

As we know, this was a home that was built by a community. It was a home built on a foundation of caring, sharing, love and respect. So it is only right that we acknowledge those members of the community, the families, church members, schools, businesses and volunteers that helped to build this house from the ground up.

I have heard the stories of the huge commitment and effort that has gone in to building this whare, which involved many fundraising ventures, sponsorship and in-kind support, assistance in the building of the home and dedication from young and old. You are shining examples of the leadership that we need in our communities.

Having heard of the amazing effort that was put in to the building of this house, I then turned my thoughts to the very lucky and wonderfully deserving whanau that will receive this whare.

To Joseph and Lydia Fa’afiu, I am so very happy for you. I have heard that one of the reasons that you were successful is because of your tireless work in the community serving others. I understand that Joseph was nominated for the 2010 New Zealand Herald ‘Unsung Heroes’ award. This, along with the fact that people from across Auckland have come to support this project, tells me that your service to the community was indeed much valued and appreciated.

The gift of giving is wonderful, and it is only right that in the spirit of reciprocity you have received the support of your community, and this home to call your very own.

I am so pleased for you all – in fact it is this ability to harness the collective strength of communities, and the power of giving that forms part of the basis of the whanau ora approach to wellbeing.

Safe and secure housing, in my view, is one of the cornerstones of wellbeing. Habitat for Humanity, with your vision to eliminate sub-standard housing, very much fits with my vision for our whanau in this country.

I was extremely pleased to hear that this house was built to Lifemark standards which are awarded to residential homes designed to be safe, easy, accessible and adaptable. In fact, in my role as the co-leader of the Maori Party, I too have advocated for housing built to Lifemark standards, in the belief that we must all work towards ensuring that our whanau are living in healthy homes designed to support their overall wellbeing.

We all know that overcrowding, or living sub-standard housing has a negative impact on health and wellbeing. One of the aims of Whanau Ora is to ensure that services aimed at protection our health and social wellbeing not only recognise the link between issues such as these, but are working effectively to address them.

There are many organisations and communities out there who all share this vision, and I look forward to working towards supporting initiatives such as these, which bring communities closer together, into the future.

So I congratulate all of you here today, who have pulled together and made a difference to the lives of the Fa’afiu whanau. To the Bishop Ross Bay, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral – thank you for having me here, and for hosting this wonderful event.

To the Fa’afiu whanau, I wish you all the best with your new home.

To the staff of Habitat for Humanity, the schools involved, churches, volunteers, sponsors, and members of the public – thank you. Thank you for the hard work that you have put in to this house, and into making our communities stronger.


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