Press Release – The Maori Party
Raihania Full of Praise for Celebration of Whakatu Monday 10 October 2011 Na Raihania, Maori Party Candidate for Ikaroa Rawhiti Na Rongowhakaata Raihania has congratulated Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated for their initiative in hosting a reunion over this …Raihania Praises Celebration of Whakatu 25 years on
Raihania Full of Praise for Celebration of Whakatu Monday 10 October 2011 Na Raihania, Maori Party Candidate for Ikaroa Rawhiti
Na Rongowhakaata Raihania has congratulated Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated for their initiative in hosting a reunion over this last weekend to celebrate 25 years since the closure of the Whakatu Freezing Works on the 10 October 1986.
“Whakatu is immersed in the memory of all of us throughout the Hawkes Bay, but particularly the settlements of Whakatu, Ruahapia, Clive, Kohupatiki, Waipatu, Haumoana and Bridge Pa” said Mr Raihania.
“While the savage loss of more than 1500 jobs is still fresh in our memory, it was a wonderful gesture to provide an opportunity to go over the old days in what we used to call ‘the University of Life’.
“Like so many of my generation, I have had my days as a sheep-shearer and a freezing worker; and I have also had a stint as Chair of Nga Toa Awhina, and President of the New Zealand Public Service Association”.
“So in all these areas, when the doors shut at Whakatu, I remember the shock of that day as one of the worst our whanau, hapu and iwi had suffered”.
Mâori were severely affected as they were a significant proportion of freezing workers.
“I was actually living away (in Invercargill) at the time, but the shock waves extended far and wide. It was compounded by the fact that the Labour Government of the day took a hands off approach to the situation, meaning the majority of workers had to wait months before they received redundancy’.
“A decade after the works closed, Te Roopu Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pomare, (Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences) in conjunction with Ngati Kahungunu undertook a study in to the long-term health effects of the involuntary closure on the workers. When Tomoana closed in 1994 the study also included some of the 1400 workers laid off then”.
“It was a brave, bold attempt to detail the health effects of unemployment on a community. ‘Mauri Mahi, Mauri Ora, Mauri Noho, Mauri Mate: The Health effects of Redundancy and Unemployment’ is the largest study in the world to follow the health effects on workers affected by a factory closure, and has been considered a key resource for communities across the world, in coping with job loss and industry closures”.
“I am really proud of the efforts that have been made by Ngati Kahungunu and others to support the communities affected by these sudden closures.
The reunion included emphasis on whakawhanaungatanga at the Commemoration plaque at Whakatu; and also karakia and maumahara to all those workers who have passed on.
“Most of all, I am in awe of the resilience of our people who took on new jobs, and found other ways to try to support their families the best way they could despite all the despair of those times”.