General Debate – Te Ururoa Flavell

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There has been a lot said today about the Rugby World Cup so let me take you all to another place; a day back in history.

Mr Speaker, I for one have had the honour of meeting and talking with Corporal Willie Apiata VC recipient. There is something special about him that is really hard to describe.. it is a sort of awe..that mana that special people carry. While he is not someone who wants the spotlight in any way, on receiving his Victoria Cross, he did have some messages he was prepared to share.

He explained that we are all carriers of information, and his aim, before they start shovelling the soil on top of him, is to hand over what hed been taught, to the young people, because it didnt belong to him. It was passed down by the people he grew up with, and they didnt keep it to themselves.

I would like to think that members of the Maori Party share the same philosophy with the Corporal Willie Apiata. We acknowledge the past for the progress made to date, we do our best to ensure goals are being met and that new goals continue to be set, always in pursuit of our rangatiratanga a desire to look after our own affairs.

Today I stand here on this 14th day of September 2011, remembering those carriers of information, those who fought to change their world by using their influence and by inspiring others to do just as they had.

On this 14th day of September in 1894, Te Rata Mahuta Potatau Te Wherowhero was elected as the fourth Maori King. He went on to persuade many Waikato land owners to take up the land development scheme led by Te Puea Herangi. Te Rata was later described by Sir Apirana Ngata as being a great influence for progress, and had he lived longer, he would have been the greatest champion of land settlement.

I remember information carriers such as Hana Te Hemara Jackson, who, with the support of Nga Tamatoa and Te Reo Maori Society, presented the Maori Language Petition to Parliament in 1972.

I want to acknowledge strong Maori language supporters Matiu Rata and Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, two former MPs who stood at the steps of this House to receive this petition which, significantly, led to the declaration that the 14th of September be the first Maori Language Day.

Today is certainly an important day in the Maori calendar.

The publication of Te Karanga o Te Kotuku in 1974 drew attention to the issues facing Maori in regards to land ownership and its struggles. Its author, the late Saana Murray fought for the land rights of her people Ngati Kuri, and of all Maori. So on this day in 1975, from her papakainga in Te Haapua, the historic 1975 Maori Land March departed for Wellington led by Dame Whina Cooper.

When the 1975 hikoi marched over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, it was led by Joe Hawke of Ngati Whatua o Orakei. 18 months later Joe and his whanau led the occupation of Bastion Point. Joe is another former MP.

During the same time, Eva Rickard, supported by Tama Poata and John Hippolite and others, occupied the Raglan Golf Course to protest its seizure from the Maori owners. Some years later, with Saana Murray and the late Del Wihongi and others, they lodged the WAI262 claim for rangatiratanga over taonga tuku iho.

It took direct action at Raglan and Bastion Point for the public and the government to recognise the injustice, but in due course the lands were returned. WAI 262 is now an issue for us to settle for future generations.

And land rights protests prompted Matiu Rata to draft the Treaty of Waitangi Act, passed in 1975, which established the Waitangi Tribunal and a mechanism for addressing historic injustices against Maori.

Te Rata Mahuta Potatau Te Wherowhero, Hana Te Hemara Jackson, Matiu Rata, Saana Murray, Dame Whina Cooper and Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan were all carriers of information who left behind a legacy.

Today, the Maori Party advances this legacy right into the lions den of kawanatanga, taking New Zealand into the future but with Maori at the table.

The Maori Party was born out of the greatest land-grab of all time the confiscation of the takutai moana. Today, we have abolished Crown title, restored the jurisdiction of the courts, and reopened a proper process for determining ownership of foreshore and seabed.

We have helped to restore te reo Maori to its rightful place in this House as a symbol of mana for all New Zealanders. Simultaneous translation helps those who do not understand te reo, and liberates those of us who do, to speak Maori.

We have secured funding for warm houses, for kaupapa Maori education, and Maori economic development.

But most importantly, we have enabled and supported iwi and Maori to have a say at the top table of the government, and to take charge of their own destiny.

So today on one of the most important days in the Maori calendar, I stand here, on behalf of the Maori Party to salute those who have gone before me, and to accept our responsibilities to pass on that heritage down to others.

Authorised by Te Ururoa Flavell, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

 

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