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Speech: Katene – Waitangi Rua Rautau Lecture

Press Release – The Maori Party

8th Annual Waitangi Rua Rautau Lecture Grand Hall, Parliament House, Wellington Sunday 30 January 2011; Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga It is my privilege to thank the Honourable Sir Douglas Kidd for a stimulating, challenging and thoughtful address, …8th Annual Waitangi Rua Rautau Lecture
Grand Hall, Parliament House, Wellington
Sunday 30 January 2011; Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga

It is my privilege to thank the Honourable Sir Douglas Kidd for a stimulating, challenging and thoughtful address, which we have come to expect from this annual Waitangi series, of the Rua Rau Tau lectures.

And I want to firstly acknowledge the initiative and the vision of those who conceived of this project back in 2001, the New Zealand Maori Council and the Foundation for Indigenous Research in Society and Technology.

On Waitangi Day in 2001, Sir Graham Lattimer issued a challenge:

“at Waitangi in 1840 our founding ancestors committed themselves to building a place where Maori and Pakeha would look after each other with aroha or love, mana or dignity, and with manaaki or respect in the name of Waitangi and in honour of our respective forebears…..it calls upon all New Zealanders to draw deeply on our established wells of courage and tolerance to make the vision a reality for the year 2040”.

It is an important challenge – a challenge which Sir Doug has today helped to advance through the insights he has shared.

And I want to thank you Sir Doug, for the simple acknowledgment you made in the classic words of Sir Tipene O’Regan responding to the myth of discovery : “Your Majesty – we didn’t know we were lost”.

We have to remember that at the time that Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed, the British settlers ‘discovered’ a highly developed sustainable civilisation in which whanau and hapu operated well established systems of health, education, justice, social services, spirituality.

We were most certainly not waiting to be found – but we were happy to entertain the process of making an agreement, a sacred covenant; what some iwi know as ‘mahi tuhono’ – the commitment to draw the people together.

We made that commitment as an affirmation of our rangatiratanga – Maori authority and sovereignty over our lands, villages and everything else we treasured – including our language and our cultural customs.

We signed Te Tiriti also recognising that Maori would be accorded similar rights to those of British people.

But of course, the Treaty was never intended to be frozen in time.

Today’s lecture – and indeed this series – takes us forward – building on our past; the promise of 1840; as we look towards 2040.

It was of course appropriate that Sir Doug – a former Minister of Fisheries – would entitle his address, Taking the Net Fishing.
And it resonates with a proverb well known within Maori circles:
Ka pū te rūhā, ka hao te rangatahi
or in other words, the old net is exhausted and the new net goes fishing
So as we move towards 2040, what will be issues and ideas that need to be scooped within our net; what is the thinking that needs to be revitalised, revived, reviewed?

And I want to just bring into this debate the very positive news that was reported last week in the Human Rights Commission review of Human Rights and the treaty.

The review talked about the very significant progress that has been made over the last year including
· the reversal of the former Government’s opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples;
· the establishment of a constitutional review process;
· the establishment of an institute for post-settlement iwi;
· and something Sir Doug and I were particularly pleased about – the legislation that was passed to give effect to a $97 million aquaculture settlement with South Island and Coromandel iwi.

Of course there’s still other issues which are a work in progress, not the least being the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) bill.

Overwhelmingly the review indicates the path to 2040 is one which more and more New Zealanders are travelling in a spirit of optimism. In fact a public opinion survey found some 60% of people polled viewed the Treaty as New Zealand’s founding document.

Today’s contribution then, to the Rua Rautau series, strengthens the resolve of the 60 percent, while at the same time throwing open a new net into the future.

Sir Doug has raised an issue which has been quietly simmering away and that’s the focus on migration – that right of return to Aotearoa – to return to our turangawaewae – the place in which we stand.

And I want to be the first to announce that the Maori Party will be taking this issue up as a matter of immense importance to whanau Maori; and indeed to the future of our nation.

The concept of whakapapa; te kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea; is of fundamental significance to all tangata whenua; and one of the key kaupapa of the Maori Party.

The point that Sir Doug raises, the right to return; and to pass the status of New Zealand citizenship by descent to their children is absolutely tied in to our identity as the people of the land; mana whenua.

We have fielded calls from our people overseas, who are concerned that their mokopuna will be classified as casual visitors rather than having New Zealand citizenship as a right of whakapapa.

So I want to thank Sir Doug for sharing many challenges, for raising issues, which continue an excellent tradition inherent in this series – Waitangi and the Nation looking on 2040.

It is precisely the quality of thinking inspired by today’s lecture which I hope will be given effect in the next few years in the wide-ranging process of constitutional review this Government has embarked upon.

I am delighted to represent the Maori Party in the cross-party reference group; and I am really looking forward to taking up the ideas Sir Doug has shared today into that forum.

To my mind it’s the single-most important challenge for our future – the paramount role of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.

It is a challenge I am encouraging each of us to take up today.

There will be, of course, so many other ideas and thoughts in today’s presentation that each of us will take up separately, and long after we leave the Grand Hall of Parliament.

One statement that I think many of us will ponder upon is his fascinating description of executive government as a congenital sinner which must be chastised and corrected!

To assist us in the process of either chastising or correcting… it is with much pleasure that I am able to announce a new development which brings together the Treaty with the technology, to enable all of us to take our net fishing.

It is tremendously exciting, in my capacity as Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tonga – the electorate in which the House of Representatives is located; the same electorate in which Te Tiriti o Waitangi is protected for evermore in our national Archives – to launch www.ruarautau.maori.nz

This website brings together the rich treasure of korero found in the lectures of some of our finest New Zealanders, including Sir Rodney Gallen; Dr Dame Joan Metge; Professor Whatarangi Winiata; the late Sir Howard Morrison; Professor Dame Ann Salmond; Dr Alan Ward; Dr Ihakara Puketapu and Sir Doug Kidd.

The official website for this distinguished series will do much to further the commitment first articulated by Sir Graham Lattimer – to call on all New Zealanders to draw deeply on our established wells of courage and tolerance as we travel onwards to the bicentenary in 1840.

Let us all take up our net, from the tail of the fish, to its belly through to its fins.

Let us carry that net with courage; with a commitment to cooperation; with imagination and creativity; and most of all with a collective will to honour the intention of our ancestors before us.

Tena tatou katoa

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