Time for whanau to take a leading role

News, Whanau Ora

Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Haurauru.Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Haurauru.

Ka whangaia, ka tupu, ka puawai – that which is nurtured grows, then blossoms.

While this whakatauki can be applied to a number of different contexts, this week I think this saying should belong to our tamariki, our mokopuna, and our future generations.

If we lay down a good foundation for our tamariki, and nurture them through our love and support, provide them with guidance and opportunity, then our next generations will be well prepared for their future, and for further advancing our Maori development.

I thought about them this week, as the Maori Party was able to tick off a number of agreements from our Relationship Accord with the National Party. We announced that we will be doubling the effort to address rheumatic fever from $12 million to $24 million over the next four years. Our negotiations resulted in the reinstatement of funding to Enviroschools, we passed the first reading on the Gambling (gambling harm reduction) Amendment Bill and we also announced support for a number of Maori housing projects in Te Tai Tokerau, and Te Tai Rawhiti.

Someone asked me this week: “So how big is this for the Maori Party?” I must say that this question threw me, because I had not thought of the work that we do it in that way. It is not about what this means for the party, but rather what it means for our whanau, our tamariki and our mokopuna, that should be the question.

We need to keep our kaupapa in perspective. Our kaupapa is about whanau, it is about Whanau Ora, and it is about kaupapa and tikanga Maori, our values and our way of doing, thinking and moving forward.

If that same person had instead asked me: “How big is this for whanau?” I could have given an immediate response – these announcements will make a huge difference to the lives of our whanau, especially our tamariki.

Rheumatic fever is an insidious illness that affects mostly our children and Pasifika children aged 5-15. It is often called a third world illness, as it can be caused by overcrowding in houses, damp and cold living conditions and other social and environmental factors. Once you have this illness, it can cause serious heart damage, and have a major effect on a child’s quality of life.

Our efforts to prevent this illness are driven by a desire to ensure our tamariki have the best start in life.

Enviroschools, is another programme which provides opportunities for our tamariki to learn valuable skills that support sustainability and environmental awareness. It is a programme that runs through schools and kura kaupapa Maori which gives our children a better understanding of the environment around them, and I believe it supports a holistic education for our tamariki, so that they will be knowledgeable, and responsible citizens of the future.

The Gambling Bill, of course, is about reducing the harm caused by pokies to our whanau and communities by reducing the number of pokie machines and venues. The bill enables local communities to have a greater say – to reduce or even eliminate pokies from their towns. It also sets up support for those who are caught in the grip of gambling by establishing pre-commit cards and player tracking technology.

So if I go back to the whakatauki at the start of this article, ka whangaia, ka tupu, ka puawai – that which is nurtured grows, then blossoms.

While we, as politicians, lay the foundation or lay the soil it really is up to whanau to now nurture and grow our future generations.

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