Maiden Speech

  • Parekura Horomia
Maori Affairs

MIHIMIHI

UPBRINGING
I’ve had an interesting upbringing!
- I grew up in a beautiful place called Mangatuna on the pa with my whanau, surrounded by love and support of my kuia and koroua.

- It was a predominantly Maori community, rich in culture, the culture of Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga Hauiti.

- My life experiences are varied, as varied as the people I represent in Ikaroa Rawhiti.

- I've been a fencer, shearer, scrub cutter and printer.
- I’ve also worked in the upper levels of bureaucracy in management roles.

- My past has made me the person I am today.

- I consider myself privileged in that I have worked with all sorts of people, nationally and internationally.

- And now I’m an MP.

PORTFOLIOS
As a Maori Member of Parliament I have a dual responsibility.
- I have a responsibility to my people and the wider public.

- Unfortunately, if we look at the statistics for the people I represent the picture is bleak. We feature disproportionately in negative statistics.

Education
- Education is the starting point for closing the socio-economic gaps.

- While some mainstream educators are making a difference, others need to get their act together. They must strive to get more Maori achieving, starting with early childhood through to tertiary education and they have got to do it with their Maori communities.
- I am indeed impressed with the discussions I have had with the Ministry of Education to date.

Employment
- There are too many Maori who are dependent on state handouts, with families into their third generation of unemployment.

- There are solo mums struggling to feed their kids.

- Young Maori men are over represented in the penal system

Economic Development
- I have known what it is like to get paid regularly. Sadly, there aren’t too many Maori who know the joy of a regular income.

- Maori are the ones often-hardest hit in times of lower economic growth.

- In communities with high levels of unemployment and benefit dependency, people generally experience unemployment as just one aspect of the broader social and economic difficulties.

- Maori economic development has to address several issues, especially in the regions where businesses have been unable to provide the jobs that are needed. I’m thinking here of places like the Far North and the East Coast who bear a disproportionate burden of unemployment.

- The Maori economic base is still largely tied to fishing, farming, and forestry. Jobs in these industries have fallen because of new technologies and restructuring. This has had a severe effect on the livelihoods of laid-off workers and their local towns and communities, communities such as Mangatuna.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Is about
- local solutions to local problems
- bottom-up development, tailored to local needs
- real partnerships, between government, business, and communities
- community ownership for sustainability
- a holistic approach, working across the social, economic and employment areas
- increasing community capacity to capitalise on opportunities for development
- developing leaders and entrepreneurs
- testing innovative ideas

- There are many hard-working volunteers in communities with no shortage of good ideas about how to make things better for their people

- Community development is about working in partnership with them to help make their ideas a reality.

- These communities have varying levels of financial, human and natural resources and therefore have different needs.

PUBLIC SECTOR
- With a few exceptions, the public service appears to me, to lack an infrastructure to support Maori communities.

- Job losses have been the result of a right wing ideology that has not helped our people.

- The devolution model, which assumes the market is ready and has the capability to meet demand, has not improved the status of Maori.

- Over the last 10 years, the devolution model based on the contracting out of services has been used extensively. It is a process in which the terms of contract and compliance procedures are dictated by the purchasing agency often with little or no input from the provider or the larger community that the provider is meant to service.

- From a Maori point of view, it is a process that makes it easy for the purchaser to impose their own definitions of the Maori world on Maori communities and to force those communities to comply with those definitions.

- A more flexible framework has to be found that acknowledges the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi and establishes a level playing field so that everyone can participate and reap the rewards.

- An infrastructure needs to be developed that enables Maori to participate effectively in the policy making process and to support Maori communities in their capacity building efforts.

- If government departments think they can engage in capacity building without changing current thinking, structures and ways of doing things they are sadly mistaken.

- Effective capacity building is going to demand innovation and transformation and Maori must be a partner in the process not just a service provider.

- This infrastructure must also take into account the management of Maori communities risks alongside those of the Crown.

- In trying to make a difference in a community we must move forward in a way that preserves the communities mana, tikanga and it should be done at the communities pace.

THE FUTURE

- The future for Maori is about acknowledging who we are and determining where we want to go.

- I believe we should encourage where Maori already excel…and build on this - kapahaka, waiata and sports.

- I don’t just want to see more Maori doing things we’re already good at and I want to see our Rangatahi learning from our successes and walking in our shoes.

- Not every Maori will reap the same success as Michael Campbell but we should be encouraging them all to swing that high.

- We have to set an example for the younger generation and I accept that challenge as a new Maori Member of Parliament.

- Let me take you back a few years to the time when I was a schoolboy. I vividly recall walking to school barefoot with my seven brothers and sisters.

- Everyday, whatever the weather, we walked five kilometres to school and back.

- While this may not have been unusual for Maori children, there was a certain irony about this journey.

- Everyday we would watch the empty school bus drive past us and other whanau to collect the pakeha kids that lived a half a kilometre from our school. This bus would pick them up, turn around, drive back past us and take those kids to the school in Tologa Bay.

- As a child the bureaucrats who made those decisions mattered little. All I knew is that I had to walk and the bus was leaving me and the rest of my whanaunga behind.

- I used to dream of being picked up by that school bus. But as I grew older we became more resilient. We went from wishing it would stop to pick us up …to thinking that if it did stop we wouldn’t hop on anyway.

- I relate that story now because Maori are often told we’ve missed the bus. And many cases Maori have not even had the opportunity to get on the bus.

- The irony in all of this is that I'm now the Associate Minister of Education, responsible for school transport!

- So now I'm not only riding the bus, I'm helping to drive the bus with my colleagues, Mr Samuels, Mr Mallard and Mr Maharey.

- As one of the drivers you can be damn sure I'm going to stop the bus and pick up as many Maori as possible.

TRIBUTE
- I would like to pay tribute to the Prime Minister and Government who share my commitment to improving the economic and social wellbeing for our people. The gaps committee is a visible sign of this commitment. I am going to work with my colleagues to ensure I make a difference in my portfolios in education, employment and economic development.