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Tuia Te Ako 2015 - Speech by Marama Fox

Tuia Te Ako 2015
Te Kete Ika, Lincoln University
Thursday 9 July 2015
Marama Fox; Co-leader of the Māori Party

It is a special thrill to be with you this morning, to start our discussions today about repositioning – Waihangatia anō te ako.

I am really excited by the energy inherent in the theme for this hui – and I want to acknowledge both Ako Aotearoa – the national centre for tertiary teaching excellence; and Te Tapuae o Rēhua – the lead organisation for Ngāi Tahu-led collaborative partnerships with tertiary organisations – for the key role you play in repositioning the discourse; in keeping us alert to the possibilities of change, and in placing faith in the concept of transformation.

And so, we come here to the city that has shown the nation the meaning of resilience. A place transformed from the serenity of the garden city to a place now living on the edge. A place where people share their art on big steel containers; where orange road-cones became floral tributes; where a blank wall is a perfect canvas for street art that celebrates the very point of existence.

In this fertile mind-lab, it is the ideal setting for us to contemplate: Te Whakarauora: Revitalisation through reflection, repositioning and reimagining – mā Māori, mō Māori, e ai ki ā Māori ki ā whakarauora te iwi.

We have the place. We also have the time. In this season of Matariki, the opportunity to wake up, to live every moment; to step up and look at the world anew is the ideal moment for an epiphany! Yes, that’s what we’ve signed up for this morning – an epiphany!

Matariki is our time to reflect on the past, acknowledging those who have passed on, whilst looking forward to the growth and vitality of the new life that awaits. It is our time to stay warm, to gather kai, to learn, to wānanga.

From the first snow fall - Huka Matahi – it is a time to feed the spirit and the soul; to learn our history; to draw close to one another; just to be.

This last weekend, while kaumātua and kuia from throughout the land gathered at Te Papa to celebrate the art and magic of kapa haka, another group – some 200 Maori teachers – travelled to Ruātoki for their annual hui – Te Kāhui Whetu: dedicated towards the pursuit of improving outcomes in Maori education.

At that hui, Tūhoe champion Tamati Kruger gave a rousing address which inspired one of the kuia to take to her feet. That kuia was Te Iria Whiu – first Māori President of the NZEI; and recent recipient of a lifetime award honouring her achievements in inspiring a love of learning amongst tamariki and whanau Maori.
The kuia talked about the challenge for us all in confronting the remnants of colonisation. She shared her vision for keeping self-determination at the centre of our being; and she spoke eloquently, passionately and with grim determination about the vital need to ensure all our kids succeed.

Indeed, she touched on a theme dear to the heart of your keynote speaker – Doctor Pedro Noguera – that fear of failure is not a good strategy for motivating students towards success.

To emphasize her point, she used her tokotoko with spirit, and left no-one with any doubt that the crusade to empower every student with the power of education was a lifelong cause. The kuia then moved to her seat, and within minutes collapsed and passed away.

While the shock ripples have spread across the education community and whanau alike, there was a powerful message that came through the moment of ōhākī – the legacy that one leaves behind. Every single teacher who attended that hui will recall the meaning of that kuia’s ōhākī: her call to devote our lives to the liberation of learning.

It was a formidable message for me, as I thought deeply about your theme of repositioning.

I think we know enough now about what we are repositioning ourselves away from – but do we know where it is, or what it is that we seek to transform into?

Sometimes it seems a lifetime away from 1867, when in the parliament of our land – a place I know a bit about – my predecessors debated whether to exterminate the natives or to civilise them through education.
The Native Schools Act of 1867 outlawed our mother tongue by a single stroke of the legislative pen.
Native Schools were instructed to present a rudimentary menu of basic literacy and numeracy skills; labouring, cooking, cleaning and nurse-maiding. In the debate that was had, there was a clear message about the type of citizens this law would create:
we need to be careful not to hunt them into education as we have hunted them into the selling of their land for fear that it might engender a spirit of resistance”.
Close to 150 years later, I am so proud to be here in an education hui, reflecting on the opportunities before us all to grow that spirit of resistance, to actively encourage the moment of disruptive innovation.

I hasten to suggest that the campaign is never over; every day provides us with the challenge of clearing away the remnants of the colonial project.
It was only a fortnight ago that Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna in the heart of Seatoun, Wellington was told that their guitars would be confiscated and noise control would be brought in to stop the school from practising kapa haka on a Saturday afternoon.

And it was only a few years ago when a Dunedin business man wrote to a local primary school complaining that they were flying the Māori flag, telling he principal, “Talk about mixed messages, when what this country needs is some national pride and a sense of belonging”.

It seems someone missed the memo that culture and identity – whether in the words of a waiata or the symbolism of the Māori flag – is actually essential to pride and a sense of belonging!

Fortunately these incidents are declining in number. We must be vigilant in challenging issues of injustice or inequity whenever it arises – but we must also rise above these low-points – and focus on what it is that we want our world to look like – the destination of our transformation!

I am optimistic about our future when I look back at even the last week across our land.

We started the week with my colleague and Māori Development Minister, Te Ururoa Flavell, announcing a new Māori Language Commissioner, educationalist Wayne Ngata, and two fabulous young wāhine Māori to join him: Professor Rawinia Higgins and Ngāi Tahu’s Charisma Rangipunga. The three appointees will join current members, Awanuiārangi Black and Hinurewa Poutu on the Board.

On Monday four rangatahi Māori flew out to Washington DC for an indigenous conference based at the White House established by American President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday there was the initialing of a deed of settlement for Taranaki Iwi – a vital milestone in the reconciliation journey between the tribe and the Crown.
Yesterday I attended Net-hui in Auckland where the theme was “the Internet is everybody’s business”.

Every session of the day had a Māori meet-up focus: bringing together the talent of tāngata whenua who are surfing the information highway in ways we never previously considered possible.

All of these events represent a repositioning of the face of Te Ao Māori. Leading us into the future is a movement of younger, globally connected, culturally confident, and many of them are also here, positioning the pathway forward as one based on an education foundation.

I want to just turn to Taranaki as a particular point in mind of how we can take repositioning into the field of nation-building. Every year the Māori Party has put forward different approaches to focus on Parihaka as a site of enormous meaning, not just for our land but for peace-making on a global stage.

We have presented petitions to Parliament; we have called for a national day of Reconciliation to highlight the impact of Parihaka; we have championed the concept of a peace week, from 31 October to 5 November; to honour the heroism and the peace-making heritage established at Parihaka.

We need go no further than out to Rapaki Pā to see the extent of the mamae carried by successive generations following the land confiscations, murder and imprisonment of their tūpuna in Taranaki.

Behind the church at Rapaki there is a memorial stone to acknowledge the suffering of mothers. Hē maumahara tēnei kōhatu mō ngā mamae i pāngia ē ngā mātua whaea.

On that stone the story of our history is told:

“The memorial acknowledges the mothers and their children who were also victims, left behind with no-one to care for their wellbeing, or to defend and protect them while their men were taken to serve as slaves in and around the harbour.

Taranaki prisoners died on Quail Island and were buried there, but the people of Rapaki exhumed and reinterred them here in their cemetery, innocent people from Taranaki with many tribes from other parts of the country that migrated to Parihaka were imprisoned without trial, taken further to Dunedin and to Hokitika”.

It is a simple stone with a profound message.

On the sides are the words of other iwi including Erima Henare of Te Tai Tokerau; Morvin Simon of Whanganui; the people of Waikato-Tainui.

So I come back to the theme of today – repositioning – and how that relates to Māori success in tertiary education.

What relevance does this kōhatu in a beautiful urupa overlooking Ōtamahua/Quail Island have for education?

I say it has every relevance. It is about our stories – our tribal stories, our collective memory. It reminds us of the horror of the worst impacts of colonisation. It immortalises the pain of the mothers; it speaks of a history frequently overlooked.

But it also expresses in action the spirit of manaakitanga – the reaching out between iwi; the important place that understanding plays in healing.

Just as decades later the iwi reached out to support the Recovery in Ōtautahi our histories, our legacies have gifted us with the knowledge of collaboration and integration long before they became buzz words of the bureaucracy.

Ending as I started, with the spirit of resilience, revitalisation and recovery that has come with the rebuild, I am thinking how earlier this year Ōtautahi opened its arms to the motu welcoming us with the theme Hē Ngākau Aroha; expressing the gratitude of a people who were overwhelmed with the generosity from across the motu.

In preparing for Matatini, Ngāi Tahu released a simple booklet, Te Hā o Tahu Potiki: Ka Koroki Te Manu with a CD attached. The booklet – the fourth edition in the Te Hā series of waiata and haka – was especially timed to assist whānau, hapū, rūnanga, schools, ngā mataawaka in learning the haka and waiata that could support Ngāi Tūāhuriri in welcoming manuhiri to Christchurch.

All of these sites of learning – kapa haka at Te Papa; a monument at the urupa; waiata kupu and melodies recorded for posterity; treaty settlements; gatherings of teachers; a flag flying; a debate in Parliament; a petition of the people: all of these provide teachable moments – each conversation becomes an epiphany that we can and must use to be constantly learning; constantly asking ourselves the questions: what is the ōhākī that we will leave behind?

And perhaps the greatest legacy may be in the comfort and confidence of constantly repositioning ourselves – whether it is

• in the years following a crisis like the Rū Whenua;
• the century following the colonial legacy of legislating our language away or the acts of horror experienced by the people
• or in the days and weeks ahead when we return to our various institutions.
Constant repositioning – feeling comfortable with normalising the practice of disruptive innovation – may in itself be the recipe for success.

We will experience success when we can sing our songs; tell our histories; speak in our reo; and be inspired with the spirit of resistance that keeps us young, that strengthens our connections.

Repositioning ourselves is all about

• doing whatever it takes to maximise Māori potential;
• strengthening and consolidating our connections as whānau, hapū and iwi;
• placing faith in our own proud and independent Māori voice - mā Māori, mō Māori, ē ai ki ā Māori kia whakarauora te iwi.
Tēnā tātou katoa.


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