Handover of Report from the Taskforce on Whanau Centred Initiatives

  • Tariana Turia
Community and Voluntary Sector

First of all, I want to thank Professor Sir Mason Durie for his words of inspiration; his outstanding leadership of the Taskforce on Whanau-Centred Initiatives and the hope he gives us all, that whanau ora is the pathway towards the transformation of our people.

Today we take a major step forward.  It is a day in which we acknowledge the potential for great change is within our reach. 

It is time to face our future with honesty; secure in the knowledge that there is enormous support for the kaupapa that we are so proud to uphold.

I have been greatly looking forward to receiving the Taskforce report.  We placed in their hands an awesome responsibility to test the waters for a new approach; an approach based on ways of old.

We asked them to be challenged by hundreds of New Zealanders, to go out on the road to hear the stories, and then to return to Wellington with a whanau-centred framework which would lift outcomes in a meaningful and sustainable way.

I want to acknowledge the intellectual power, the formidable knowledge, the flax-roots experience, and above all the cultural competency of these five champions who comprise the Taskforce: Professor Durie; Rob Cooper; Suzanne Snively; Di Grennell and Nancy Tuaine. 

I want to make a special mention too, of Linda Grennell of Ngai Tahu who would have dearly loved to have contributed had her health enabled that to happen, and I mihi to her today.   Kia piki te ora ki a koe Linda.

You have been advocates, guardians, historians, campaigners, academics, entrepreneurs, writers, and policy analysts - all the while staying firmly fixed on multiple goals of how to demonstrate results, provide accountability for public funds and develop a brave new approach for the integration of funding and delivery of services.

But more importantly you have been focused on the re-empowerment of whanau to be decision-makers; enabling them to be self-determining.

You have told us that we will have succeeded when whanau are:

  • self-managing;
  • living healthy lifestyles;
  • participating fully in te ao Maori;
  • are economically secure, actively and successfully involved in wealth creation; and
  • are cohesive, resilient and nurturing.

I am really delighted to receive your report today, and really pleased that some of my Ministerial colleagues are able to be here today at this special handover process.

The Ministers of Health, Education, Social Development and Employment, Housing, Finance, Police, Corrections, Maori Affairs, Community and Voluntary Sector and Disability, have been meeting over the last few months to engage in discussions about the opportunity to lift social, economic, cultural and collective outcomes for whanau. 

And I want to really mihi to Minister Ryall because he believed in this from the first time we talked, and you have no idea how important that was to me.

The Minister of Pacific Island Affairs is also keen to receive a copy of your report, recognising the considerable momentum in Pasifika communities, to look at how an approach like whanau ora might apply for them.

It is not for us to tell the peoples of the Pacific what will work for them, or indeed for any other New Zealanders, but inevitably there will be common themes and shared understandings that I am sure will be valued.

This report has been eagerly awaited, I believe, by all New Zealanders.  The interest in this initiative is extremely positive and augurs well for our future work.  

I am disappointed that there has been a bit of misinformation about the intended process and approach, and I know that when this report is released for public viewing, the intent and the integrity of the Taskforce will address this.

But just to set the record straight, neither the Taskforce nor the Ministerial committee have ever decided to handpick selected winners.  I am strongly in favour of an Expression of Interest process to encourage those who are really committed to this kaupapa to come forward.

In fact I know that there are already a number of iwi and hapu who are so enthusiastic and ready to make whanau ora a reality.  They understand the platform this report provides for the work that they have always believed in and carry out in different ways across the country.

There have been some amazing efforts made by individuals who have gone well beyond the call of duty, particularly the Secretariat for the huge work you have put in behind the Taskforce. And to all those officials who had faith that this would work and not just for whanau, but for Government as well, I thank you all for your commitment.

This report today flings open the door and welcomes us all in to share the aspirations and the goals of whanau ora.

We know what we want - we want whanau to live comfortably today and in the years ahead, to be strengthened by a heritage based around their ancestral connections, their distinctive histories, marae and their customary resources, as well as by access to the institutions and opportunities of both home and abroad.

But what we haven't known is how we get there, and how will we know when we have arrived? And I think that this report helps to create solutions to these questions. 

The words of whanau resonate throughout the report.   One of the clearest messages for me was a humble sentence in the very centre of the report, ‘encourage whanau to be part of the solution'.

Another very clear message is, and I quote, "Whanau require someone with a multiplicity of skills, not a multitude of people".  The call for integrated and coherent delivery systems is very strong. 

We are told that integrated delivery recognises that sectoral approaches to whanau often fail to gain an understanding of the wider whanau dynamics and as a result, are not able to address what are really fundamental concerns. 

Inevitably sectoral approaches are problem-orientated and so there is less room to introduce a developmental approach that builds on existing strengths.

It's kind of the glass half empty scenario.

Finally, I want to share one of the stories in my journey towards whanau ora. 

When I was growing up in Putiki and the Pa, I would devise a vast array of schemes to be able to change out of my home clothes and look halfway decent whenever I had the chance to get to town.   No matter how hard I tried inevitably I would return home to my Aunty Wai knowing from the look on her face that my great plans had been revealed.   

Unbeknown to me there were aunties all over the Pa who took it upon themselves to report the state of my dress.  The village would literally be abuzz with the collective concern for what I was told was ‘in my best interests'.

They told me then, and I have never forgotten it, that no child ever walks alone.  Every child is an expression of their whanau.

And that is one of the paramount principles of the whanau ora approach.

The institutions of the state have a well developed inventory to identity individual deficits, a pathology of every problem imaginable.

But the collective story, the growth and development of whanau, is often left untold, it is invisible.  Your report today places the focus firmly and fully on the collective wellbeing.

Whanau ora is about restoring to ourselves our knowledge and our confidence that we are powerful in our connections to each other; and that our greatest strength lies in our own whanau. 

It reinvigorates the relationships that have always been there; it enables us to take control back of our lives.  It is about rebuilding the integrity of whanau by empowering them to determine and take greater control of their lives and wellbeing.

And while we can be confident that the transformation required is firmly in the reach of whanau; it is also vital that a spirit of collaboration is established with Government and the various funders, providers and agencies.

And so we receive this report today which will require government agencies to be innovative, and to apply greater flexibility in the way they deliver services.   It requires us to have high trust in organisations - like the high trust organisations that Paula (Bennett) is working with.

And for perhaps the first time, accountability for public spending will be for outcomes, rather than activity.  This is about people being accountable for the difference they make.

That is the awesome responsibility that you now place in our hands. 

Tena tatou katoa.