Families stronger as rules change
MP for Te Tai Hauauru
It was Kingi Tawhiao who said ‘‘Maku ano e hanga i toku nei whare’’ – I will build my own house. In many ways this statement articulates everything that Whanau Ora is about, being empowered, taking control of your own affairs, determining your own needs and working towards building something for the future.
Over quarter of a century ago, at our marae at Whangaehu, we built our wharenui using the rammed earth method of construction. Our whare is warm, it is beautiful, it is eco-friendly and we had made the form our own. It is the most incredible feeling to know that we were ultimately responsible in every sense for the strength and the resilience of our tribal home.
It has become harder and harder for our families to achieve this sense of empowerment over the last few generations. With colonisation came an erosion of land, identity and resource and once all those things have been removed from you it is very difficult to operate from a base of confidence or empowerment.
Over many generations we have had leaders, prophets and change- makers who have understood this, and who have moved across many fronts to find space for our knowledge in order to remedy the fate of our whanau.
This has been a multi-generational struggle, and it is still on-going. In fact many of us in our day-to-day lives are advancing the future of our whanau by breaking stereotypes, removing barriers, building a bridge of cultural understanding between organisations and tangata whenua.
One of the key issues that has acted as a barrier for Maori development has been that our entire State and system of government has been established upon Western philosophy. It does not fit within our world view, and we have spent hours justifying, explaining and proving that how we see the world, and how we operate is valid, meaningful and works for us.
Whanau Ora has been about creating the space for our aspirations and our knowledge to be fostered.
There are other areas where this same work is going on. You can see slow but progressive movement across a range of fronts.
Our views on housing are intrinsically tied to our sense of self and place, our connection with our land and resources, and of course our whanau. The Kainga Whenua policy was put in place as a means of recognising this link.
I look forward to seeing more papakainga developments and whanau living in safe and healthy homes. For details: www.hnzc.co.nz