Raukawa Accord Speech: Raukawa Settlement Trust
Crown - Raukawa Accord Speech: Raukawa Settlement Trust Chairman Chris McKenzie
Friday December 3rd. 10am
Te Papa o Te Aroha Marae, Tokoroa.
It is an honour to welcome Prime Minister John Key, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson and government ministers Georgina te Heu Heu, Phil Heatley, John Carter and Tariana Turia. And, of course, welcome to our own hardworking MP, Louise Upston, Member of Parliament for Taupo.
It is always a pleasure to also welcome local dignitaries, including our mayor, Neil Sinclair, Crown officials, kaumatua, whanau and the many people of our community and region.
Welcome to our home, and to a community that too often has borne the brunt of changes in economic fortunes, and the consequence of political decisions.
We are a proud community that is diverse and embracing. We share in the battles of each other, and we rejoice in the success of our own. We are a town of all shades and many flavours.
To our mayor, Neil Sinclair, a special welcome to you because I am proud of the relationship Raukawa have formed with you and your council – i should say without the need for formal agreements.
It is a relationship that looks to build on the success of each other, which looks to break down barriers so that we may work together for the greater good.
It is a relationship that says: your success is my success, and your battles are mine, as are your disappointments.
It was just three days ago that I also welcomed Neil and many members of his council team to this marae. But the visit was not a typical powhiri. This was a cultural forum to allow the opportunity for myself and my team to share our knowledge and love for this region and our Raukawa culture.
It was a chance, for us, to explain and therefore demystify the powhiri, so that rather than some members feeling intimidated by this “foreign” process, they could understand what is occurring and better understand that it is welcome that has been moulded and shaped by many previous generations, as a vessel of wonderful embrace.
The day involved the sharing of Raukawa knowledge. This was not to rewrite history or to extract apologies for historic injustices against our people. It was a process to share, inform, and grow awareness for our history in this region, and to imbue the connection and significance this rohe has held for many generations of Raukawa. It was a process that - first via powerpoint, then by bus - showed first-hand our landmarks. It provided the history of the names of many familiar places. It was a day of sharing.
It was a process that encouraged dialogue and questions, not just about Raukawa, but also on issues Maori. And there were many questions and much dialogue. Like, ‘why does the haka and pūkana look so aggressive’?, ‘why do māori believe they own the airwaves’?
The feedback has been exceptionally positive, as has been the case from all who have attended our cultural forums. These include local businesses, councils, local government boards, and schools. I have been uplifted in sharing our knowledge, in demystifying aspects of our culture, and I savour the newfound understanding and appreciation among our guests.
And it is this growing appreciation, demystification, and the opportunity to share that has brought us all here today.
It is a process that looks to acknowledge that your challenges – Prime Minister – are our challenges, that your success is our success. That Maori share in the aspirations of our neighbours, the expectations that our children can and will be the best they can be, that the opportunity for our own are the same as our neighbours - in this town, or any other.
With dialogue and mutual respect, there will be progress in our shared goals.
Too often when Maori are involved in a crime or activity that horrifies the community, there is an expectation that iwi leadership must do something about it and an attitude that we do not do enough. There is an implied and generally accepted guilt on the part of all Maori, that in some way we are responsible.
We too feel the horror and the sense of powerlessness. And we feel frustration that there is much to do and yet we can play such a small role in being able to remedy such matters..
It is a powerlessness that also has seen our people sit as voiceless spectators to the degradation of shared taonga, such as the Waikato River. A powerlessness that saw our tikanga and kawa, which for many generations preserved these resources, cast aside along with our ancestors.
There has been some comment of late on the renaissance of Maori, including the re-emergence of iwi as economic entities, and a wider acknowledgment of this country’s unique indigenous culture and voice.
And there has been a renaissance within the decision-makers in this country. It emanates from Parliament and is led by some of the people who sit before me.
It is a leadership that has been brave and committed to providing some relief for the injustices that have left many Maori impoverished and marginalised.
There is a will for change that recognises that this country cannot truly succeed on a world stage if Maori continue to languish in poverty and dominate many of this country’s negative social statistics.
And I thank you Prime Minister and your cabinet colleagues for staying true to this ideal, for understanding and maintaining the political will that looks to ensure all ships are lifted by a rising tide.
I urge you to continue to be brave, Prime Minister, to ignore the tired rhetoric of Don Brash and his Act Party mates who cannot see beyond their own privilege. We say to them that - NO! the status quo MUST NOT be allowed to continue.
When Rodney Hide or his cronies try to paint today’s historic event, as they have in the past, as another sell-out to those privileged Maori, I urge you to recall your visit here. To recall this “privilege” that Maori enjoy. When Act host their next party conference in the plush surrounds of Epsom, I will wish for some of our people’s privilege to visit their community.
And therein lies the key to true leadership. It is an understanding that it requires more than a token lump sum to turn around the damage of generations of neglect and exclusion. It takes commitment and the pooling of resources so that, unified, we can direct all our energies towards positive change. In this way we all benefit.
I long for a world where all of our children can see the opportunity to be managers, nurses and teachers. I wish for a time when all our children can envisage themselves holding positions on environmental boards, health boards, in Parliament or see the opportunity to be the minister of housing or fisheries, or even prime minister.
This is a part of the accord. We have much to do and this is but the beginning. It will take hard work and commitment. We will share your success and your failure, Prime Minister. Will you share in ours?
Thank you to all who have come today. This is a momentous occasion. Today, the words of partnership enshrined in the founding document of this nation - the Treaty of Waitangi - stepped down from the pages and finally came to life. Let us together ensure these admirable solutions have a long and healthy life.
Stokes Communications Ltd