Apr 21, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Meri Kirihimete from Pita Sharples

4 min read

Parliament rose on Wednesday and Christmas is knocking at our door. It is a time to celebrate the achievements of the last year, while we prepare ourselves for new challenges that lie ahead in 2013.

The biggest focus for us over the last year has been on strengthening our whanau. Whanau Ora is all about creating healthy, thriving and resilient families. It is one of our key policy platforms and, this year, Whanau Ora has further deepened its roots into our way of life. It is more than a policy, it is a way of thinking and doing; it is a philosophy. And that philosophy has found support in all spheres of our community.

We have our kaitoko whanau and oranga whanau workers out there in the community supporting whanau well-being by providing assistance and advocacy; we have established around 500 community food gardens or maara kai to help people to feed their families, and as a means of bringing communities together; we set up training and employment initiatives; we have established Reading Together, a whole-whanau literacy programme which is in the process of being rolled out to all decile one, two and three schools; we negotiated to have the rheumatic fever screening programme expanded, state houses insulated and for the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on poverty, which is tasked with bringing Ministers in to look at how we can work together to alleviate and address poverty in this country.

We have done all of this and more, and yes, all of this is about our vision of Whanau Ora.

Earlier this week the Childrens Commissioners Expert Advisory Panel released an action plan to address poverty. We wholeheartedly support the work of this panel and we stood up and made our voice counted on this issue. We were pleased that Whanau Ora was incorporated into the Panels findings, but most of all we are pleased that after years of successive government policy, which deepened the divide between the haves and the have nots, we finally have a solutions focused whole of government plan to tackle the issue in fact 78 solutions all up.

The challenge now is to go through the 78 and place priority on those we can achieve today, while planning for the pathway forward. The Maori Party are calling on all of us to make a stand on this and to call for proper consideration and implementation of the action points by government.

Alongside this issue which feeds into our vision of creating healthy and thriving whanau, we have also worked on protecting the well-being of our future generations by doing some work on supporting the growth of the Maori Economy. We have built strong international relationships, we have gained recognition for the large contribution that we make to the economy, and we have established a Maori unit in one of the biggest government agencies the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

Maori Business is winning the attention of the world with our innovative flair and our unique cultural perspectives. We call this the Maori Edge and it is a secret to success that we are promoting and advancing. We know that by supporting Maori businesses, we are supporting the growth of Aotearoa-based employers, whose values fit with ours, whose views and development fit with our views and who will contribute to growing our sense of identity.

Of course, another major issue for us this year has been Te Tiriti o Waitangi and, more specifically, Maori water rights. This is one of those issues that unified us as hapu, iwi and tangata whenua. We saw huge momentum amongst our people to ensure that our rights were not compromised by Nationals state asset sales agenda. But we also saw each hapu, and each iwi defining for themselves what their rights were in respect of their awa, roto, and wai in their homelands.

It was on Tuesday night that we heard that the NZ Maori Council had lost their case against the Crown on the issue. The findings of the judge were disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. There was always a plan in place to take the issue of water rights further and so we have worked to ensure that all avenues are open for our hapu and iwi to pursue this issue.

Yes it has been a full and eventful year and, no doubt, next year will bring similar challenges. Its been tough, weve worked hard, but its all been worth it to know that we have helped to make a small difference in the lives of our whanau.

Take care over these holidays and look after each other. Meri Kirihimete!

Dr. Pita Sharples is co-leader of the Maori Party


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