What will it take to make the lives of Maori and Pasifika peoples better? - Tariana Turia

Wednesday 23 November 2011, 9:14AM
By Tariana Turia

"This is the question we must ask ourselves every day” says Tariana Turia.

“There is no denying that there are some deeply entrenched conditions of poverty that are attacking the spirit of our people” said Mrs Turia. “None of this is new. We have known for some time that too many families are making vital health decisions based on affordability and as a result a raft of preventable conditions have arisen including rheumatic fever, skin infections and respiratory illnesses”.

“This has occurred because successive governments have failed to invest in addressing significant issues of poverty and poor housing. Cold, damp, mouldy homes breed illness. Over-crowding multiplies the likelihood of infection. And the oppressive impact of fuel poverty leaves families bereft of hope. Yet Governments have lacked the confidence to take a future focus which brings all of our people into the promised land.

“As a nation, we must transform our thinking from what we can’t do, to what we can do; and we must reinvest in the importance of collective responsibility – looking out for our neighbour; caring for our own kids.

In the disability sector for instance, we are trying to place our focus on creating an enabling society rather than be limited by a disabling one.

"New Zealanders are tired of hearing about the dire predicament they are in, and the quick fix solutions that various parties are promising does nothing to create the long term change we need”.

“For the vast amount of resources spent on the industry of misery, we have to ask have these services progressed the situation of our families? What is the social and economic outcome?

“Exacerbating our people’s situation and maintaining our dependence on others must cease if we are to achieve inter-dependence of ourselves”.

“Transformation is about changing the structure and changing the culture. It is about attitudes and values. In short it requires a revolution of thinking.

“These are huge issues which are far more pivotal to our wellbeing than tinkering with tax or fixating on fiscal reform”.

Government needs to be acutely aware that their role is to support the responsibilities that properly lie with family – not make our families redundant.

We have to wake up to the wonder of whanau – the incredible potential of our people to do for themselves.

We must take every avenue we can to support our families as the backbone of our nation.

In this context, Whanau Ora is the great unsung success of our times.

At this stage we have some 25 provider collectives working with more than 150 health and social service providers dismantling past expectations and doing what they can to capture the strengths of whānau, building their capability and self determination.

At least 1,500 whānau representing more than 15,000 family members have been involved in propelling their own development through the Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement approach.

“All I say to politicians and the media alike, is look beneath the surface, and uncover the amazing story of transformation that is occurring beyond the headlines.

Whanau are doing it for themselves, and our greatest job as politicians should be to support them in doing even better.