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    John Tamihere
    Maiden Speech

    from The Jobs Letter No.119 / 6 March 2000

    tamihere.jpg - 4242 Bytes

  • I stand today and rejoice in the prowess of my people. I want to sing their song. I am proud to represent the Hauraki constituency—the Hauraki heartland and whanui. They are the jewel in the eye of Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga. They surround these great metropolitan blocks. They will lead the nation in regard to aquaculture. They will determine tourism on their terms, and they will play a significant role in restructuring community services as we might know them under the policy upon which we were elected.

    The average age of my constituents is 22 years. They are young, they are vibrant, and they must believe in themselves. I am always amazed at the prowess of my people, and I am extraordinarily proud of them—they delight me. I am not proud of their prison rates, of their hospitalisation rates, and of their being first fired and last hired. But I am proud of my people because I know their potential—it is latent, it is innate; and it has been suppressed. The true yardstick and measure of this nation's success will be based on the Maori pendulum as it swings awesomely forward.

  • When one understands our negative indices, one understands the huge frustration. No longer can we tolerate that others merely feast at our failure. Who are they and what are they? Well, they are large, vested public service-related organisations at the moment — that continue to give us streams of advice. In locking us up like this, they have led, over the course of 20 to 30 years, a tremendous degradation in our communities. When someone is managed and their failure is managed, they are robbed of their ethic, their ethos, and their responsibilities to themselves, to their children, and to their families.

    "No longer can we tolerate that others merely feast at our failure. Who are they and what are they? Well, they are large, vested public service-related organisations at the moment — that continue to give us streams of advice. In locking us up like this, they have led, over the course of 20 to 30 years, a tremendous degradation in our communities."

    Over the last 15 years we have been governed by people who know all about inputs and outputs, but nothing about outcomes. I reiterate that 80 percent of my people are under the age of 40 years. There must be a different way of managing our people, rather than using the criminal justice system.

  • I have been critical of those outside our communities, but I also have been equally critical of those within our communities. I will not have the few feast in the name of the many. Merely to chant "whanau, hapu, and iwi", and not to deliver on it, is not good enough. New communities are rising in dynamic Maori Auckland. Te Whanau o Waipareira and Manukau Urban Maori Authority are as real in the hearts, minds, and souls of urban Maori as are iwi. This is not a competition. This is a reality.

    What will Maori provide to this nation in this new millennium? It will be Maori definition and Maori points of differentiation that will ensure that Kiwi goods, Kiwi services, and Kiwi products are high-priced, niche-marketed, value-added, and, above all, identifiable. For example, some clown called kiwifruit Zespri. That name has nothing to do with this nation. In the knowledge-based industries, branding will be quite important in regard to the goods, services, and products that we produce, and our people can provide that definition.

    For example, a Maori team will participate in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup in Great Britain. They will double worldwide viewership, to 250 million people. They will excite people about our nation. Their merchandising capacity will be enormous. They will drink not Powerade, Gatorade, nor Coca Cola; but the pristine, clear spring water pumped off Maori land into bottles processed by Maori people. Today we do not value ourselves enough. We can walk downtown here today, and watch the social climbers drink Chernobyl-tainted Evian. We do not value our own products enough, therefore nobody else will. If we do not value our people enough, no one else will.

    To progress that thought, I mention to members that a Maori band will release its album in Great Britain. It will feature in the London top forty. As our grandfathers had in the 28th Battalion, we have a wonderful name in the European Community. Never have we been allowed to explore it. The rugby league team will do us justice and do us proud. It will operate with distinction, regardless of the rugby Nazis that run the Hillary Commission, regardless of our being locked out of schools that do not allow us to play our code, and regardless of local authorities not giving us amenities.

    I state quite clearly that the producer boards are another example of how we get locked out. We produce 15 percent of the nation's meat. At no time have we been woven into the economic matrix. At no time have we been given the right to enter into middle management, and upper management, in order to develop our own professionals through the industry. If the country continues to use us and abuse us, it will lose us. We have a blood right and a constitutional right to progress ourselves. It should not be suppressed.

  • Good government is about rationing scarce resources and prioritising where to place spending. Every pistol purchased, every frigate purloined, and every F16 pushed down our throats, on the basis of jingoism driven by Jurassic Park junkies, cannot be sustained. We are not a nation with a large war chest. If we look at the deficit, we see that it is a sunken chest.

    Good government is about seeking new priorities. My people cannot feed off frigates. They cannot feed off F16s. They need education. They need health. They need housing. I am here to advocate on behalf of the people of East Tamaki, not East Timor. What greater armoury can we grant to a people than, by educating them, to allow them to be discerning, informed participants so that they can nurture their democracy and understand the true fruits of liberty? I am pleased I am in a party that has a great regard for that prioritisation.

  • Many people get into this debate on the left and the right of politics. It is a meaningless debate for us. It is bankrupt, because, at the end of the day, we have been left right out of everything! I am proud to be part of a Labour Government led by a Prime Minister who has been decisive and incisive. A Government, contrary to popular belief, is not ideologically driven, but it must unravel the ideological purity that hammered the spirit of our land. Any attempt to define our programme as leftist is based on bankrupt, historical logic. We will do what is right for our people. It might be a bit left and a bit right in the old way of thinking about things, but it will be right and good and work.

    I have spoken on behalf of my people. I take this seat that they have richly and graciously bestowed on me. Let it be known, from this day forward, that the young, vibrant, and powerful communities of Auckland Maori and Hauraki whanui will have a voice. to prove that a positive version of MMP can work.

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