Sir Maui’s day time to reflect
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.’’
Caption1: Jean Ruakere has attended the Sir Maui Pomare Day celebrations since she was a schoolgirl.