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Adjournment Debate : Rahui Katene

Speech – The Maori Party

I start this adjournment debate, by referring to the memories of our beloved ones who have left our midst over the term of this Parliament. We are bereft of their presence; but richer for the difference they made to our life.Adjournment Debate : Rahui Katene; MP for Te Tai Tonga
Thursday 6 October 2011; 7.00pm

Ka huri ki a rātou nga rangatira kua ngaro ki aitua i tēnei tau.

Kare au i te pirangi kia mahue atu tētahi no reira ko tāku kē, he tautoko i ngā poroporoakī ki ngā rangatira i hinga i tēnei tau. He tangi atu ki ngā iwi kua pāngia e aitua.

E te hunga kua ngaro atu i tēnei tau. Haere atu rā.

I start this adjournment debate, by referring to the memories of our beloved ones who have left our midst over the term of this Parliament. We are bereft of their presence; but richer for the difference they made to our life.

We have always believed that the most important role for the Maori Party, is to be the very best advocates that we can. Our legitimacy comes from the voices of the people – our influence is through the wisdom of their lived experience.

And so as we come to the end of this 49th parliament we pay tribute to all those people who have gifted us with their ideas; who gave feedback by twitter or facebook; who attend policy hui; who keep the ahi kaa warm. They are the life and soul of our party and every email, every phone call, every letter is appreciated.

The relationship agreement we signed on 16 November 2008 has been upheld and we are proud that every milestone has been achieved.

I believe the Maori Party, offers Aotearoa a better way forward. The party continues to show the nation that there is a reasoned path down which we all can walk, that Maori values will enhance and not detract from the aspirations we might hold as a nation.

The poll results released just last Sunday provided a resounding confirmation of our decision to sit at the table of Government; in our determination to do the very best for our people.

Over half of the 1000 people polled between August 19 and September 20 reported that the Maori Party has represented Maori well and accepted that compromise was worthwhile to ensure we had a seat at the cabinet table. This was a massive result which reiterates our political stance, that we seek influence with integrity. We seek to be potential driven; to seize every opportunity to advance the aspirations of our people; and to consistently represent the independent voice of Maori in politics.

Our coalition agreement has brought with it a raft of significant policy gains that have brought resourcing directly into our communities.

We achieved a historic reversal of the previous Government’s decision not to sign the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and we have been proud to advance Māori activism within Government and at the Cabinet table.

The hallmark of our contribution to the nation over this last three years, has come from Whanau Ora; from the Constitutional Review; and from the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) bill.

Our focus has always been to create policies that focus on who we are, where we are heading and what we can do for ourselves not what we expect from others.

Whanau Ora is the ultimate reflection of that commitment to invest in our people – and I am not just talking about the $164m appropriated. We now 25 provider collectives in place, involving 158 health and social service providers nationwide who have been working collaboratively to deliver the innovative approach to engage with families.

But most important of all we have sensed a new faith and confidence in the capacity of our whanau to be self-determining and that is incredibly exciting.
The constitutional review is the sign of a bold government prepared to open ourselves up for the debate about what constitutes our national identity. It will be revolutionary for this nation for really engage about what the promise of the Treaty holds for our generations and those to come; and I am greatly looking forward to taking part in this debate in the next Parliament.

The third major milestone achievement is the Takutai Moana Bill.

And I want to place on record our appreciation to Chris Finlayson for a stirling effort in getting this legislation on the books. I believe that the full extent of this legislation is yet to be realised but it is most certainly hinted at, in the purpose of that Act, which I cite for the record.

This Act takes account of the intrinsic, inherited rights of iwi, hapū, and whānau, derived in accordance with tikanga and based on their connection with the foreshore and seabed and on the principle of manaakitanga.

We have seen that same respect for tikanga, for kaitiakitanga, for kaupapa influence many other aspects of the legislative agenda; and I think in particular the establishment of the new Environment Protection Authority; the work advanced across aquaculture; and the groundbreaking reform introduced by my colleague Dr Sharples, in Te Paepae Motuhake – the revitalisation of te reo.

Tariana Turia often has a key catchphrase – that culture counts – and it has been pleasing to see that expressed in the initiative of Tataiako, cultural competency for all teachers; the evolution of Whare Oranga Ake in the Corrections system; and the $20m allocated for Health Innovations.

Of course, this term has not been without its challenges, and I will never, to the end of my day, forget the traumatic chaos and crisis that we have endured over this last year in particular.

The disaster of the Pike River Tragedy will forever shape my memories as MP for Te Tai Tonga; and the ongoing and tumultuous upheaval associated with the Otautahi earthquakes threatened our sense of security; it literally threw our world asunder.

But out of the liquifaction arose a remarkable sense of resilience; a courage and community spirit which has moved us all. And I want to acknowledge my co-leaders, for enabling me to have the honour of this last address; to bring with me the voices of the unsung heroes of Te Tai Tonga who have taught Aotearoa so much.

The shared Maori sector strategy coordinated by Ngai Tahu has been inspirational in its breadth, and I place on record my admiration for the way in which iwi throughout the motu came together, to support the people.

In many respects this is Whanau Ora in action – when our collective passion is galvanised for the greater good.

We have as a party, tried to encourage that spirit of collaboration to focus on our strengths. It can be the blueprint on how we can treat to others and still retain our cultural integrity.

We have applied that approach to the leadership Tariana has demonstrated in tobacco reform – in increasing tobacco excise; in banning tobacco displays; in confronting the third world diseases of poverty such as rheumatic fever; in the investment in bariatric surgery; and in the insulation of over 6000 houses in low income areas.

We have sought to put our best foot forward – to advance our economic development; to invest over $100m in Maori education; and to showcase our talents on the Rugby World Cup stage.

But perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the Maori Party during the government has been to neutralise and buffer the government against the ACT Party. At every cabinet committee and cabinet, at every Ministerial meeting and at every caucus, the members of the Maori Party have provided the Government with the ability not to be held to ransom by an aggressive right wing agenda.

I’m proud of the policy gains we have been able to achieve for Maori and for New Zealand, and the issues we have placed on the table.

My colleague Te Ururoa Flavell brought to the table the Public Works (Offer Back of and Compensation for Acquired Land) Amendment Bill – living by our commitment that not one more acre will be taken.

I am rapt that other parties have followed my lead in pioneering the call for GST to be taken off food; and for a cross-Government accord to eliminate child poverty and accelerate wellbeing.

And what we have not achieved now, we will take up on our return.

Finally I thank the amazing movement of people who make our jobs here so easy –you, Mr Speaker; our fabulous dedicated staff; the library team; the hansard office; the office of the clerk; the table office; the security team; the cleaning staff; Copperfields; the messengers; the telephonists; the people who keep the Beehive buzzing – and of course the Prime Minister.

And as all of us here know – we would be nothing without our families. The Maori Party’s reason for being is to advance every opportunity and aspiration of our whanau. We can do that, only because of the endless sacrifice and commitment of our partners, our children, and mokopuna – and our last word is to them.

Ki matou taua, poua, tuakana, tuahine, tamaiti, mokopuna, o matou whanau, na ra te mihi aroha te mihi mahana ki a koutou mo te awhi mo te tautoko ki a matou te Paati Maori.


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