Sunday 27 February 2011; 10.30am
Papa o te Aroha Marae, Tokoroa
Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party
I was really inspired by the kaupapa of this hui - Wāhine Ora: the Wellbeing of Women as the precursor to whānau ora.
I have to admit that I have always had some questions around approaches which focus exclusively on tamariki, on tane, on wahine, on kaumatua - as if they are separate groups which operate in isolation of each other.
My whakaaro has always been that our strength is in each other - our collective wealth is demonstrated in our relationships.
I like the concept of te pa hakakeke as a symbol of whanau.
The growth of the flaxplant represents the protection of each of the whanau members - each individual leaf emerging from and protected by its matua - and more broadly its whakapapa.
The purpose of today's hui, then, is to look within the richness of te pa harakeke and focus particularly on our wahine as an integral part of our whanau.
From what I know of the work of the Raukawa Charitable Trust your mission is to manage the social, cultural and economic affairs of the whānau, hapū and marae of Raukawa.
Your mahi extends across a range of comprehensive health services, across all age groups, including services for tamariki, rangatahi, pakeke and kaumātua. So you are well used to working with whanau at the centre as the key to your success.
Whether it's the Waka Taua Wellness Programme or the Rangatahi Māori Physical Activity Programme, you have demonstrated that you want to do the best for all of your whanau, by meeting the distinctive needs of all the component parts - and that, of course, is including the well-being of our wahine.
So what are the factors that lead to Wahine Ora? What do we need to do, to ensure the wellbeing of all of our women is cared for?
All of us will have role models around us, aunties, sisters, nannies, who help us to learn what we need to learn, to be the best that we can be.
They will be women like the kuia, Emare Nikora, who inspired so many of us to live life to the full, to place our energy and our commitment into the areas which promote wellness - not just in our own sphere but for the broader whanau, hapu and iwi.
Emare invested so much in the development of Raukawa FM - believing in the importance of a voice for the people; a voice which could carry the importance of te reo me ona tikanga.
She advocated for the funding of wananga to ensure matauranga Maori was protected to nurture the growth of her mokopuna. And she was a fearless advocate for whanau.
Another kuia - Miro Huria Smith - has featured in our thoughts this week in the horrific aftermath of the earthquake in Christchurch.
This brave 80 year old kuia, was sitting in a bus-shelter in the central city when the quake hit. Despite her own fear, she had the courage to comfort and reassure a group of school-children that were running in terror from the trembling earth.
At that time of such chaos, she acted in a way which helped to calm the tamariki, to restore a sense of confidence that they would be alright.
It is that remarkable sense of the collective good that I always associate with our kuia - having the vision and the determination to act in the best interests of the group. They encourage us to walk the talk, to take the risks on behalf of those who will follow.
So how do we carry the legacy of our kuia into our future? How do we honour their lessons, their challenges?
I have to say that even now, many years after the passing of my grandmother, my mother, my aunts - I will hear their words in my ears and know when I am doing the right thing- or not.
This is at the heart of wahine well-being - carrying the lessons of past generations for the benefit of our mokopuna to come.
Our whānau will be strengthened by a heritage based around whakapapa. They will be enrichened by the distinctive histories, and the tribal knowledge that is theirs to learn and love.
In many senses wahine wellbeing is about the importance of connections. Just like the weaving of harakeke so strongly associated with our wahine, there is a vital role for our wahine in knitting together the diverse strands of all our whanau.
Positive and empowering interactions between generations are at the heart of whānau ora.
It comes from drawing on those within our whanau who provide such important support and leadership. Ultimately these connections are the source of our greatest strength.
They remind us that all whānau are capable of taking back the control, of restoring that sense of self-belief that enables their aspirations to be achieved; that will ultimately create the transformation they are looking for.
Yesterday I understand that you had korero from Merepeka Raukawa-Tait on keeping our children free from abuse. Another focus was from Victor Tamati, in his thoughts around non-violence against women.
Both of these take are fundamental in supporting Māori families to achieve their maximum health and well-being.
But if you were to talk to either of them, you would know that it is not just about identifying the problems and challenges that confront us; it is also about identifying the solutions within our midst.
Merepeka, for instance, is also a member of the Te Arawa Whānau Ora Regional Leadership Group which is fundamentally about enabling whanau to determine what they need to make the difference they desire.
Whether it's speaking out against abuse; cervical and breast screening, being auahi kore, or promoting opportunities for mirimiri or healing, wahine wellbeing is intimately connected to the pathway of our own self-determination.
I want to really mihi to Bernice Kaponga - and all of the team responsible for putting together this wonderful three day wananga focused unashamedly on Maori-led initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of your own whanau, hapu and iwi.
What you have done is set your own pathway forward, created your own solutions, focused on improving your outcomes in every respect.
It is a fantastic initiative and one that I hope will continue to encourage you all to cherish the very essence of who you are -to uphold the potential and the beauty of your whanau at the centre of your world.
In my mind there can be no greater source of motivation, than to do all that we can to make a brighter future for our whanau- and that's through wahine ora, mauriora, whanau ora.
Senior Ministerial Advisor/Chief of Staff Maori Party (Acting)
Telephone: (04) 817-9170
Facsimile: (04) 817-6526