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Turia: Address and Reply

Speech – The Maori Party

In the Speech from the Throne, there was one simple statement, which revealed the next steps in progressing our transformation agenda. “As agreed with the Maori Party, a separate appropriation and governance structure will be established for …
Address in Reply : Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Wednesday 15 February 2012; 3.10pm
In the Speech from the Throne, there was one simple statement, which revealed the next steps in progressing our transformation agenda.“As agreed with the Maori Party, a separate appropriation and governance structure will be established for Whanau Ora”.

This statement was a signal to us all, that Government has confidence in Whanau Ora as an approach that is premised on delivering better results for whanau.

In the Relationship Accord that confidence is articulated further: to “support the evolving focus and ongoing implementation of Whanau Ora”.

Today, I want to share some of our learning and our successes in the journey of whanau transformation.

The sheer numbers of whanau engaged is one tangible measure the enthusiasm with which New Zealand families are taking up these opportunities.

We have 25 provider collectives, representing 160 provider organisations, currently delivering to and engaging whanau and families.

At least 2000 whanau plans, representing more than 15,000 family members have set their whanau planning activities in motion through involvement in the Whanau, Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund.

In addition, 1000 whanau are actively navigated to access existing services through our 25 provider collectives.
But although the numbers are important, the over-riding interest for me has been on the outcomes – are we seeing success for whanau across a broad range of situations?
Let’s be clear. This is high risk business with the potential for a high return. There is no quick-fix solution to achieve the wellbeing of families but we have to invest time, energy and resources in families to be self-managing.
And I would dare anyone in this chamber to declare that raising families is a walk in the park. We all know the challenges that come with raising children in today’s world. The circumstances of daily life can be at times very stressful, even in the best of families
For some families, their circumstances become overwhelming. Compounding factors such as a loss of employment; inadequate income; persistent illness; crippling racism and substandard housing all create tension in an already fragile situation.
Successive administrations have attempted to intervene in circumstances of crisis. But in too many times the intervention itself has simply created another obstacle in the path of the family in need.
A brave government would admit that the state is not the ultimate solution.
A bold government would be prepared to trust in the people; to acknowledge their potential, to enable whanau to set their own direction in making change happen.
This, indeed, is the hub of the political challenge – to find the point of equilibrium between prudent accountability of public funds and an environment to support the diversity of whanau aspirations.
I want to remind those who have spoken out in anger against what they see as a one-man crusade to undermine Whanau Ora, that Whanau Ora has always been about more than politicians or political parties – indeed it has never relied on parliament as a moral guarantor – and nor should it.
For essentially, the success of Whanau Ora has been due to a rising tide of confidence in local solutions, that we trace back over many many decades. It has emerged from the momentum of whanau to create a secure foundation for our mokopuna to benefit from and the majority of our whanau do this without state intervention.
Whanau Ora did not just come along in 2012.
We saw the genesis of the approach in Puao-te-ata-tu; in Tu Tangata; in the kohanga reo movement; in the Hui Taumata of 1984. The call was broad for whanau, hapu and iwi to determine, run and control their own initiatives. The funding for these moves would come from the so-called negative spending that went into picking up the pieces.
A fundamental premise in this journey was to encourage the state to place faith in the capacity of families to achieve outcomes which could lead to full participation within society. This has not changed a generation on in our current environment where there has been significant change in our economic, cultural and social environment.
This journey is predicated on an investment in an indigenous approach – an approach based on Maori cultural foundations built around a communal approach to wellbeing. Indeed, it is available to all who want to participate in this approach.
We have been here before.
Indeed in this House, 21 years ago in April 1991, a politician rose in the Appropriation debate to give voice to a view which might well have come out of the Whanau Ora vote. The Minister of Maori Affairs at that time said, and I quote: “It was not for central government to determine for tribes their shape, their character or their form and that policy was supported by Maoridom. The Government would work in a voluntary way with every tribe, with every subtribe, even with family, but it would be oppressive and culturally offensive to hold out the taxpayers cheque book and say, either you conform or we don’t deal with you”.
That politician was Winston Peters, and I hope that he can appreciate the contribution that Ka Awatea also made, to a journey that we are now seeing the fruits of, through the success of Whanau Ora.
I said before, that Whanau Ora is a high risk business – why wouldn’t it be, when we know the impact that circumstances can have on already fragile lives?
But if it is high risk, it is also high return – and that return has been evidenced in three ways.
We have seen strategic leadership and regional championing bringing together knowledge, expertise and experience of community members and government processes, to benefit the wellbeing of whanau.
We are observing systemic change – progressive and incremental success demonstrated by integrated contracts, multi-year funding, multi-year planning and the accompanying action research to inform quality improvement and to evidence outcomes.
And most importantly we are seeing the value, benefit and success of whanau transformation as they build their capability and become the vehicle for their own change.
Whanau Ora is about transforming our futures. It is being realised in outcomes across social, cultural and economic dimensions.
One of the most significant aspects is the planning to create intergenerational transfers of knowledge and values – to put an end to cycles of despair, and to pave a way in which whanau aspirations are able to be fostered.
Our next steps are in extending Whanau Ora to Kaipara, Hauraki, South Waikato, Taupo and Turangi, Palmerston North, Wairarapa, Levin and Kapiti Coast, and Murihiku.
We are championing an inclusive approach – an approach which is driven by a focus on outcomes. That approach, while fundamental to the opportunities and gains for whanau, also comes back to Government.
And so I conclude my contribution today, with an assurance to the House, that we can have every confidence that the Whanau Ora approach will continue to evolve.
Despite the amount of resourcing distributed across government departments and to a range of agencies, there is an unfair expectation that Whanau Ora is the panacea for everything. We all have the responsibility to be responsive to practise whanau ora.
Whanau Ora can begin with us all modelling hope and placing value in a vision for tomorrow – the translation of our highest hopes into strong whanau who will lead communities throughout Aotearoa.

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