Speech: Kaapua Smith - Maori Party Hui-a-Tau
Address to the Maori Party Hui-a-Tau; Pipitea Marae,
Kaapua Smith, List Candidate for the Maori Party
Saturday 29 October 2011
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa
I am very humbled, and also proud to be standing here today, as a member of the Maori Party, but also as a voice for a new generation of Maori.
Ko te patai pea a etahi – ko wai tenei e tu ake nei? Ko au, he uri o Ngati Porou, o Ngati Awa, Ngati Apa, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngai Tahu, me Whanganui. He mokopuna, i puta mai i te Kohanga Reo o Natari, te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Maungawhau, me te kura noho Maori o Hato Hohepa.
Te tamaiti o Linda raua ko Graham Smith, te teina o Ramari Jackson, aa te whaea o Te Haanea raua ko Niwa. He kotiro i tipu ake i raro i te maru o te kaupapa Maori, aa i roto i te korowai o tetahi whanau, e ai ki au he whanau ora.
I am here today to speak as a Maori Party list candidate. First of all, I would like to commend the Party for their commitment to represent the ‘many faces’ of Maori through their list, and in my view, show their commitment to the growing and diverse needs of our whanau, hapu and Iwi.
I would also like to make particular mention of the clearly visible prioritising of rangatahi, or rangatakapu in the list. As a young-ish person myself, I recognise the ‘leap of faith’ taken by our Pakeke – we all know that 50% of Maori are aged 23 years and under, but we also know, that sometimes rangatahi need time to learn, time to grow, and to develop.
I am young too, but I have also grown up in a whanau committed to the kaupapa of Maori development. I work hard, because my parents taught me to work hard, and to stand on my own two feet. I strive towards Maori development because my parents, my Aunties and Uncles, and my Nannies and Koro’s did it, and they taught me that is my responsibility to continue on that path. My whanau taught me things that cannot be learnt in an educational institution, they taught me about the beauty of being part of a whanau, and the uniqueness that comes with being Maori.
My koro once said to me, that if you aspire to do great things, then go and learn from someone who has walked that road. So I did, and here I am. I sought an education, of a kind. Working in many Maori organisations, in some government departments, and finally ended up in the Maori Party offices in Parliament. It is about “Akoranga” – both learning and teaching – and I am grateful to our Party and our MP’s for allowing me to learn alongside you.
Just to take some time to reflect on that experience – I have only been working in there for one year, but already I have seen the hard work, the long hours and the dedication that our candidates have put in to their work. Our Co-Leaders, Papa Pita and Whaea Tari work hard, they are not just our Co-Leaders, or Ministers of this portfolio or that. Our people view them as Ministers of all things Maori – and as such they worked hard both to open opportunities, but also to shut down threats to our development.
I also saw our MP’s Te Ururoa and Rahui holding it down for our people on a day to day basis in the House. I can recall one particular Bill the “Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) and I watched Rahui stand up for our position all day in the house. She took a verbal hammering from National, from Labour, from Act and others. But she stood firm, she stood up and said “No” – this is not right for our people, and it’s not right for our kids. And all I remember thinking was – “Rahui’s bloody awesome”! She stood there, as the voice for Maori on that day, she made her view heard, and she represented us proudly.
Lots of people work hard when a camera is around, but it's those who do it behind the scenes when no one is looking that make the biggest impression on me.
So I do feel privileged and I have learnt so much. So thank you to our MP’s and thank you to my colleagues.
One of the things I quickly want to touch on before I finish up is the reason why I support the Maori Party. In 2004, I was a political studies student at Auckland University, when the foreshore and seabed act was passed, and the hikoi happened and the Maori Party was born. I remember being so moved by the display of unity, but even more impressive was the calibre of people who stood up for the Maori Party and took up the rakau to take our issues to parliament.
It’s intimidating. It’s intimidating to think about the wonderful contributions and advancements that they have made to Te Ao Maori, but also towards my own life. I went to Kura Kaupapa – Papa Pita is the godfather of Kura; Whaea Tari, otherwise known as Whaea of the Nation because of her staunch advocacy for Maori on the foreshore and seabed issue, probably one of the most important moments in our history that awoke our collective consciousness; and Te Ururoa, Uncle Jimbo – well your impact on me will be life lasting – I wear the mark of your brand in my name – you are godfather to me.
The point is that my world is a different place to that of my parents, because of the contributions that our Pakeke, our Kaumatua, and our tipuna have made. And I am who I am today because of our candidates, our MP’s and our Party.
At the end of the day, all parties have policies, all parties have candidates, and logos, they all care about New Zealand, and disparity – but the Maori Party is the only Party that is about Maori solutions. It is the only party that is about Kaupapa Maori, and it is the only party that truly knows the meaning of whakapapa, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga, Rangatiratanga and more.
As a kura kid, those are the values I was raised to believe in – those values to me, are like home.
So, while it is intimidating, I am also struck by the need to continue this advancement for my own tamariki, and for the world that they will grow up in. I am also mindful of the aspirations of my generation, and of those generations that follow – and the need for them to have an ear, eyes, and a voice at all levels of decision making.
So on that note, I would like to announce our fabulous Maori Party rangatahi policy:
The Maori Party will
• Establish internships, voluntary work, and other vocational development including specialised programmes run jointly by employers and schools
• Ensure that each school-leaver will be mentored by work brokers to enable them to graduate with a plan which prepares them for employment including possible career opportunities and tertiary study options
• focus on sectors with the biggest skills shortages: healthcare, infrastructure, finance and green energy, recognising that green energy developments will open up jobs that don’t exist now
• establish youth councils with statutory advisory roles in city and regional councils and initiate a national summit for Rangatahi
• investigate the establishment of rangatahi rangatira – Maori Youth Leadership colleges to better inform Government policy.
These policies I am sure will enhance rangatahi participation and meaningful engagement in decision making, as well provide critical support for them to thrive in our future!
I just want to finish this korero today by saying as a rangatahi, and on behalf of my generation – that we are the fruits of your hard work. And we have a voice. and we have knowledge and experiences hei tapiri atu ki ou, e aku rangatira.
Our generation will face new challenges. Global challenges. We must take our people into a digital world, and into a globally connected world. We will chart a course a course into a global era, that will see us taking up new opportunities, but also pose potential risks that we must navigate. We will face the challenge of this new world, while also needing to ensure that our identity, our culture and our connection to our whenua, hapu and Iwi and is maintained.
We must start to build those foundations now to ensure that our mokopuna are secure in their identity as Maori, but also engaged and staunch citizens of Aotearoa.
Rangatahi have knowledge to add to this endeavour, we want to be heard, and to have our experiences valued, but most of all we want to know that we can participate in a safe and meaningful way.
No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.