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Turia: Pasefika Proud Campaign Launch

Speech – New Zealand Government

Fifty years ago this week, an African-American Baptist Minister, addressed a crowd of 250,000 people assembled in the March of Washington and spoke out about a nation that was failing to live up to its promise as a home for all Gods children.Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister for Social Development
Pasefika Proud Campaign Launch
Our Families; Our People; Our Responsibility
Pacific Media Network; Manukau Civic Building

SPEECH
Friday 30 August 2013

Talofa lava. Malo e lelei. Fakaalofa lahi atu. Ni sa bula vinaka. Kia orana. Ia Orana. Taloha ni. Kia ora tatou katoa.
Fifty years ago this week, an African-American Baptist Minister, addressed a crowd of 250,000 people assembled in the March of Washington and spoke out about a nation that was failing to live up to its promise as a home for all God’s children.

In this life-changing speech – Dr Martin Luther King told the world that he had a dream – a dream that his four little children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I wanted to reflect on this historic speech – as we embark on the launch of the Pasefika Proud Campaign – as it seems to me it has so many themes that resonate with what we are doing here in Aotearoa.

It started from a dream. A dream to let freedom ring – a dream of racial equality – a dream to make justice a reality.

We too, have dreams.

Two years ago, a Niuean Samoan boy spoke to a packed school auditorium, in an inspirational address entitled ‘Brown Brother’.
His message to his peers is right up there, in the finest legacy of oratory, and I want to share some of his own words with us today.

“Do not fret, do not regret. For where you go, you take us with you.

Brown brother, do not be afraid to be the first. Brown brother do not be afraid to be the change. Not in skin tone or colour but a change in mindset. From one brown brother to another.”

That boy – Joshua Iosefo – sent a shiver through the nation when his speech was uploaded onto YouTube. His message rippled throughout the land, attracting fans through the power of the spoken word.

What was it about this South Auckland schoolboy that made Aotearoa stop and listen?

It was simple – he was challenging his people to be Pasefika Proud – to say it out loud– that we have faith in the solutions put forward by the people of the Pacific.

Today we celebrate that same message of hope – in the launch of this Pasefika Proud campaign.

This is a day to know that culture is the key to success. It is our time to look around and embrace our whanau, the strength of our aiga, the potential of young and old, the power of the collective.

As if we had any reason to doubt, there have been some amazing examples of Pacific Power over the last few months.

I’m thinking of the Adams Family – not the movie – but a story of incredible Tongan talent – and I’m thinking of a day in June when a sister won the world’s best shot-put throw, just hours before her baby brother made history as the first New Zealand basket-baller to be picked in the NBA selections.

I’m thinking of two superstar Samoan tenors from Mangere – brothers, Amitai and Pene Pati – who are thrilling opera-lovers across Europe.

Or the South Auckland dance crew who have recently won gold for the third year in a row at the World Hip-Hop Dance Championship in Las Vegas – brought together under the brand name, Royal Family.

This, then, is the season to celebrate Pasefika pride – pride in the culture, pride in the family, pride in the people.

The Pasefika Proud Campaign is the fruition of a dream lead by the Pacific Advisory Group to the Taskforce for Action on Violence within families.

Now one might ask, what pride can we have in family violence?

This project answers that question with one word – everything.

The campaign is built on the hope that out of the challenge and despair of domestic violence, Pasefika cultures will be the key to liberation.

It is a campaign drawn out of the dream, that families will be violence-free, that homes will be sites of safety, that Pasefika peoples will be strong, nurturing and proud.

It has been inspired by the strengths of Pasefika peoples, at local levels, making transformation a reality in all of your communities.

I have been told by some that transformation in the family violence area is a really difficult concept.

They tell me of a complex system of bureaucracy – and the sense of a revolving door – where so-called perpetuators access a myriad of programmes but still the behaviour remains the same.

They tell me about those men who self-refer – who want support to change their behaviour but are told that unless they come through the Courts there is no funding for them.

They talk to me about the problems with the legislation – which separates a family into perpetrators, victims and children – when all that a family wants is to address their needs, separately and together.

Well for all those who say it’s too hard – I beg to differ.

I am a firm believer in transformation – because you have shown me how it works. As young Joshua told us, it’s all about a change in mindset.

I see it in your eyes – I can feel it in your hearts – I know that change has happened.

Changing behaviour is hard work but it only takes a step to get started.

And today we celebrate and commemorate that first step – in holding up a beacon of hope to lead to the ultimate goal of wellbeing in our families.

If anything, the remarkable transformation I have seen amongst the various Pasefika approaches to family violence, has provided a quality of leadership that I would challenge any government department to emulate.

In fact, I have told the various agencies that come to my table, that the Pacific conceptual framework, Nga vaka o kaiga tapu, should become the blueprint for any policies they are developing for and of peoples of the Pacific.

Nga vaka o kaiga tapu brings together sacred knowledge, traditional values, stories, poetry, genealogy, history and ethnic specific cultural wisdom to strengthen the resolve of the people to restore the essence of each of your communities.

To be honest, it is one of the most exciting and inspirational frameworks that I have ever seen brought together in one form.

It is based on the very real concern that family violence has no place in Pacific communities and that everyone can play a part in helping to make families violence free but we do that, from the basis of our own cultural belief.

The Pasefika Proud campaign has been influenced by that framework, to start generating conversations about how to start – how to respond to families in need.

The Pasefika Proud campaign takes us everywhere. It reaches into streets and neighbourhoods, churches and workplaces, youth groups, clubs, supermarkets and sportfields. It will be over the airwaves via text, facebook, twitter, instagram. It will involve talkback sessions and will be promoted at major events. In essence, wherever the people are, Pasefika Proud wants to be.

It is wonderful, today, to see in this room Members of Parliament, Church Ministers, family violence providers, representatives of Pacific businesses, Pacific peoples from right across the community, schools; Police, Pacific media providers, Councillors, District Health Board members, and of course families.

It tells me – Pasefika Proud is designed, delivered and led by Pacific peoples. It is a strengths based approach, it is driven from the local level.

I am so excited that Pacific Media Network is working with the Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project as part of the campaign. The Project and the work they do, absolutely inspire me with their energy, vitality and unmistakeable sense of voice.

The wonderful concept that I have seen shining through the Project – through Nga vaka o kaiga tapu – and which I know is the basis for the Pasefika Proud campaign is that success lies not in fixing families – but in harnessing their strengths and supporting them to be fabulous.

Transformation has been created by those who are taking back control and responsibility for their own.
It has been crafted by those who are driven by results – the outcomes they seek to achieve for our families; our people.

I want to finish with two statements that sum up to me, what I believe is the driving force of change.

The first is from a Tokelau Project of Pride, based in Matauala Hall in Porirua. It says it all.
Pride comes because you are a reflection of your family and as a consequence of that the benefits flow to your village and your race.”

And the second saying, is a wall hanging that Pati Umaga gave me at my office in Wellington just yesterday.

“WHANAU – we may not have it all together – but together we have it all.”

I want to thank everyone involved in Pasefika Proud for the inspiration that you provide to me. Thank you for your work – your commitment and your never-ending sense of optimism.

Your dreams deliver upon the hope that we all have for a better future – a future with strong, vibrant and nurturing families – a world where all our mokopuna will grow up proud of who they are – and who they will become. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.

ENDS

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