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ANGOA Political Panel and AGM – Quality Inn Cuba Street
What is your vision for civil society?
Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Tuesday 8 November 2011
In a recent publication, The Transition: Getting to a Sustainable and Just World, the thesis was presented that we are entering an era of intense and insoluble resource scarcity, the demand extending far beyond current levels of resource consumption, living standards and GDP.
The alternative is posed of a simpler way, within mostly small, self-sufficient local economies under local participatory control. The most important contribution that any activist can make is to develop local solutions led by ordinary people who understand how to achieve largely self-governing communities.
It sounds remarkably like an expression of rangatiratanga to me.
The Maori Party is built around the concept that revolutions will not be achieved from instructions from the top – the transformation we seek for ourselves must be generated within our own homes and communities; within the civil society.
We have been delighted with the momentum that has been achieved through Whanau Ora - an approach to supporting some 25 provider collectives, 158 providers and literally thousands of whanau in finding their own way forward.
We believe that Whanau Ora is a fundamental aspect of the cultural shift required to address the issues impacting on our civil society in these times.
Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie, authors of the Big Kahuna warn us, and I quote, “So long as compulsive consumerism bewitches us as the epitome of success it seems that no income is high enough”.
So the biggest challenge confronting many of our families is how to cope with the adverse impacts of a consumerist culture; as well as the inevitable hallmarks of our time in which it appears that inequality is embedded in our society; impacting particularly on children’s wellbeing.
And although I am talking to the converted, I want to remind us that the economy is not separate from society, or from the environment that sustains us, or the cultural world-view that binds us together as children of Ranginui and Papatuanuku. Economic growth that harms the environment or limits human potential is not progress, and does not raise our standard of living.
We believe we must abandon reliance on GDP as the key measure of economic performance. The Maori Party advocates a Genuine Progress Index, integrating economic, social, cultural and environmental indicators as a tool to measure and evaluate national development. That would show us what is the best balance between revenue collection and expenditure restraint, based on the overall picture.
I want to also remind us of the context which ANGOA is so familiar with and that is that the voluntary workforce contributes 4.9%, or $6.95 billion of GDP. As we all know, Maori make up a significant portion of this workforce. It is my view that Government has never valued this – and it should.
The Maori Party has, however, always appreciated the vital role that our whanau, our hapu, our iwi play to the civil society.
And I want to say, we should support whanau by trusting in their own locally developed solutions for sustainable livelihoods. We want to support vibrant whanau, drawing on their potential to advance both wealth creation and alleviate poverty.
And I want to share with you three of our most exciting ideas around the support and promotion of the civil society.
You may recall that phrase, Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach someone to fish and you feed them for a lifetime. This is very much the thinking behind our focus on whanau.
Our major push is on Whānau Ora - caring for our own; taking collective responsibility for the wellbeing of the group.
Whanau Ora demonstrates our belief in relying on our own resources, reminding ourselves of our histories as hunters, gatherers, growers. It is about our marae coming to life; believing in our way of doing things. We believe that every opportunity should be afforded to support whānau, hapū and iwi in their own growth and development.
Whānau Ora has also been described by our Pasifika whanaunga as ‘restoring the role of the village’. It is a concept which speaks to other cultures.
The second initiative, following in the momentum of Marae CBD – is that the marae is the hub of our whānau .
The thinking behind Marae CBD is that we will utilise existing structures to maximise the inherent potential each marae currently holds including enhancing tourism opportunities and employment training. We will build the capacity of marae as an iconic resource.
Our view is that each marae should be a self-sufficient community hub supported by ultrafast broadband and with potential for increasing kaupapa Māori business.
As part of this drive towards supporting our marae, we will do a number of things.
· We will encourage marae-based learning and initiatives to promote whānau literacy.
· We will help to repair and upgrade marae as crucial self-sufficient infrastructure for civil emergencies.
· We will invest in digital hubs to be established in communities and rural marae.
· We will work with the Māori Sports Federation to enable marae to be a community sports and physical activity hub.
And finally I want to talk about our Ahi Kaa proposal.
This is about investing in what we are calling the rourou economy, a model of reciprocal and collective development based on food security. We will grow our economy through expanding maara kai so that we produce our own food, develop our own sustainability and live healthily. As part of this we are looking to establish an investment initiative in which payment is linked to improved social outcomes achieved by the group.
The thinking behind this proposal, is that iwi investors will implement a programme of actions on a payment-by-results basis in a model based on Social Impact Investment.
If they meet their targets, the iwi investors will receive a financial return from Government. If they do not, investors will not get all their funding back. The model can be used for early intervention e.g. literacy skills; preschool readiness; recidivism, or employment for our most vulnerable.
The Maori Party is a firm proponent of social lending.
I am really interested in stimulating more discussions around social lending and social investment.
Within my electorate of Te Tai Tonga, we have some examples – the Southland and Canterbury Community Trusts – who have been pioneering social lending; as well as the City Council in Christchurch which for some years has been running a Community Organisations Loan Scheme as part of their general funding activities.
We want to champion social lending, by bringing together iwi with the philanthropic sector and social lenders, and with Government support to create a collaborative network to help communities take responsibility, create real work and free up resources for whānau development.
I have spent most of this presentation talking about investing in our own new ideas.
Our philosophy is that it is not about what we can do for you; it is about supporting our people, to do for themselves.
Our focus has always been to create policies that focus on who we are, where we are heading and what we can do for ourselves not what we expect from others.
That is where Whanau Ora came from - investing in our families determining their own solutions. That was where Community Max came from - investing in our communities, supporting our young people with employment opportunities. That is where Maara Kai (community gardens) comes from – looking after our own.
When people lead us to believe that all that there is, is what is owed to us, we stop looking to what we can do for ourselves.
It was not the way of our parents when they lived by the simple truth that “an honest day’s work” bought its own rewards.
I thank you all for the amazing work that is done within our communities to strengthen ourselves – to be self-determining; to be driving our destiny forward.
Tena tatou katoa