Sir Maui’s day time to re­flect

Taranaki Daily News - - News - Iso­bel Ewing

At a gath­er­ing to re­mem­ber one New Zealand’s most prom­i­nent Maori po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, Tar­i­ana Turia ad­dressed the people of Waitara for the last time as a min­is­ter of Par­lia­ment.

Turia spoke to a packed meet­ing house, in­clud­ing lo­cal iwi and dig­ni­taries, at Owae Marae on the 78th cel­e­bra­tion of Maui Po­mare Day on Satur­day.

The Maori na­tional day of sig­nif­i­cance recog­nises the work of the first Maori doc­tor, Sir Maui Po­mare, who was born at a pa near Urenui in 1875. He was in­volved in health re­forms, pol­i­tics and in par­tic­u­lar the in­quiries into land con­fis­ca­tions.

‘‘In some ways, to­day’s a bit of a good­bye from me,’’ Turia said.

Turia is step­ping down as Maori Party co-leader at this year’s elec­tion af­ter more than 18 years in Par­lia­ment.

‘‘There comes a time when you start to re­alise it’s time to al­low younger people to come to the floor to give ex­pres­sion to the is­sues con­fronting our people to­day.’’

In­equal­ity and in­sti­tu­tion­alised racism were among the is­sues she listed as con­tin­u­ing to af­fect Maori.

‘‘There is a fu­ture for our­selves but that can only hap­pen when we con­vince oth­ers of our Tu­ran­gawae­wae, our right to ob­serve our cul­ture and our val­ues, our right to be Maori in ev­ery way we choose to be.’’

Turia mused how hard it must have been for Sir Maui in a par­lia­ment when Maori were rep­re­sented by just four seats.

She told those gath­ered in the meet­ing house that Waitara Maori epit­o­mised re­silience. ‘‘You are the only com­mu­nity I have gone to through­out Aotearoa who ask not what we can do for you but what you can do for your­selves.’’

Ruakere Hond said the cel­e­bra­tion of Sir Maui was par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant in to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment as Maori and the Crown talk about Treaty set­tle­ments and the way for­ward.

‘‘It was Sir Maui who moved to es­tab­lish the royal com­mis­sion that came out with its find­ings in 1927 that the con­fis­ca­tion was ex­tremely harsh.’’

Sir Maui also drove a regime that dra­mat­i­cally changed Maori health in the early 1900s.

How Maori played a greater role in their well­be­ing at a pri­mary health level was an is­sue faced to­day, Hond said.

Jean Ruakere has been at­tend­ing Sir Maui Po­mare Day since she was a school girl in Waitara and its sig­nif­i­cance res­onates with her.

‘‘It’s the people com­ing to­gether, I know it’s im­por­tant I be here.’’

Pho­tos: ANDY JACK­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Cap­tion1: Jean Ruakere has at­tended the Sir Maui Po­mare Day cel­e­bra­tions since she was a school­girl.

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