Speech – Hon Dr Pita Sharples (Co-Leader – Māori Party) – Thursday, 24 July 2014
In The House videos:
Valedictory Statement – Pita Sharples – 24th July, 2014 – Part 3
Valedictory Statement – Pita Sharples – 24th July, 2014 – Part 4
Hansard draft transcript:
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):
I am really full of different thoughts today—pretty mixed—as I think back over the last 9 years of my life.
You know the history of us: foreshore and seabed, the * hīkoi. Tariana did not know where she sat. She crossed the floor and made history. That was really brilliant. We had a whole lot of hui* up and down the country and we formed the Māori Party, and we came.
In our first election we won four of the Māori seats. Tariana, myself, and—where is he; what is your name again? And Te Ururoa, and Hone somebody— Hone Harawira. So we were very vocal over 3 years. We sat on the * cross benches over here and we threw stones at everything that Labour put up. We got a lot of following from outside. People said: “Yeah, you’re doing a good job in there.” We did not win anything, we did not do anything, but we just made a lot of noise and we got a lot press.
And that got us an extra seat at the next election. So then Rahui—kia ora, Rahui—joined us, and then there were five. Then we had a major row and then there were four and the Mana Party as a result of that.
So that is what happened—that split. Also, he and others mounted a campaign about being in Government with National and they invited us in, we went back, had 30 hui up and down the country, and every hui said: “Yes, go into Government. Give it a burst.” So we did.
I would like to acknowledge John Key and the whole structure of the National Party that explained why they would like to go with us. There were good reasons: an opportunity for us to have a chance at the table. We were honoured by that. Thank you very much, and we join with you.
Over the next period we got a lot of goodies for our people both in terms of passing bills but also in terms of * putea—money—to allow projects to go ahead and so on. It was a really good experience, though, for us to do that.
But the reality is our popularity slipped right down with the conflict between Mana and the Māori Party. But also there was a campaign against us being with National. It was painted as the bad guy by this Māori lobby, in particular.
So at the last election, while National did all right, with Māori Labour did all right. I think that was the backlash on us being in that Government. So what do you say to that, you know? I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote.
If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system.
I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones.
Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works.
So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people? So that is my big thing at this time. I really feel our people are so far away from understanding that. The fact that they do not vote is testimony to that too. You ask them “Are you voting?”. “Nah, not really, what for?”, and stuff.
So, people, I would like to say thank you to a whole lot of people at the outset, so you get that one going. To my tribe * Ngāti Kahungunu—I know many of you are here, kaumātua and stuff—*— Hoani Waititi Marae, * Manutaki, Pari te Taua, kura, all these organisations, thank you for coming and being here on my last speaking day.
It is a great day because I have had three speeches already and one question, and I did not have to correct any records. It is embarrassing coming back and say “Oh, point of order.”, but I am an expert at that anyway.
So Tāmaki Makaurau*, , you have got to be the best committee in the world. You have done good by me. We have won every election we have gone for, and we are going to win one for Rangi there—he is sitting up there—this time. You are a great, great committee.
There are all our branches and, of course, the voters of Tāmaki Makaurau, which is most of Auckland City* there, or the natives in there, anyway.
I had an A-team* who doorknocked, and they doorknocked just about every weekend on our first election. They went out, it rained and they got wet, and then they went out again, it rained, and they got wet, and they went out, every weekend. Every weekend they had a karakia and then they went out, and I want you to know that the baby of the group was aged 65, and there was a whole group of them.
They were dedicated, because they said: “At last, our time has come. We have a Māori party.” And, you know, that was inspiration for us to bring our Māori kaupapa in here.
Do you know that every time you put a bill up to us, we put it down here and we say—there is a good criteria, and our team has to go through this—“*—“ Kotahitanga: does it unite us and does it unite New Zealand? * Manaakitanga: is this a caring bill? Will people be hurt by this bill?”.
With every single bill, whether it is about crossing the road or whether it is about a new building law or a new security law, or whatever, we put it through that test. We have stuck to our kaupapa and voted accordingly.
So I just wanted you to know that. We go by that kaupapa, and I know that most Māori in here would like to do that, too. So maybe there is something there that the big parties can think about—to understand that these are real * tikanga and not just made-up rules to go by stuff.
So thank you, Tāmaki Makaurau. Naida*, , our current president, is up here—kia ora, Naida, thank you for being here, lifelong friend and stuff. Vice-presidents, Ken* and * Donna, thank you. Past presidents, Pem Byrd* and * Whatarangi Winiata—amazing man, a really amazing man. He was great on the tāngas. He had a tānga for everything.
And, of course, our past MPs, Rahui and—what is his name—oh, Hone. That is right—Hone. [Interruption] No, do not laugh. He sent a message and he said I am cool. How is that? I wonder what he said to his wife.
Anyway, what an adventure we have had. It has been a great adventure being together. I really did not know Tariana personally until all this stuff happened, and then suddenly we were joined at the hip, for 9 years. And if you are joined at the hip with Tariana, it is quite an experience. Why are you laughing? OK, I thought I had better check that out—OK.
So to the National Party, I have got some things to say about you, but let us just move down the list a bit. To the parliamentary precincts staff, thank you very much. We cannot operate without you guys.
The VIP car drivers—I really have to thank you, and so do you, Tariana, because you and I and the Prime Minister always have the highest expenses on the cars. You know, with those cars and the odd flight, I can do four cities and five meetings in 1 day, so it really, really works. I mean, if you have got a portfolio like mine, where you have got to get out with the people, it really helps, so do not stop that one.
The cleaners—thank you.
The messengers and staff around Parliament, who make this place tick over and who look after all MPs, you are really, really good.
My electorate staff, my staff here, and my personal staff and private secretaries and things—awesome. I have had nothing but good staff. They are really, really good. So Veronica, Martin, Kimberly back there, and my big team here—I will name you all tonight, but there are so jolly many of you that I must say that I really appreciate you all. You have made my life here very easy.
So Te Puni Kōkiri*, , you get the rough end of the deal many times, and everybody seems to have sort of a * love-hate relationship with you. Do not stop working—you are doing a great job. You do stuff, you clean up after everybody, and you hold the mana for us.
When things Māori go wrong in this place, you are asked to fix it and so on, and there are some beautiful people in there—thank you. I would like to acknowledge Leigh and Michelle, the leaders, and others in that department.
Corrections officials are always good. That is because, as I used to say, I have been in and out of prisons all my life, but I have been working in prisons all my life, so it is really easy working with them.
Education people—I had a few drinks last night for anyone who sort of works for me, and education officials came en masse because they have been great. * Tātaiako—I said: “You know, we need this thing about culturally understanding your Māori student.”, and they wrote it. They got it written and produced.
Māori history in schools—it is now there. You never knew about Te Whatu-i-apiti or Te Heuheu o Te Rangi, but you knew about Sir Walter Raleigh and you knew about one or two of those other people and about the Magna Carta and all that stuff. But, you see, you are not related to Sir Walter Raleigh and all that stuff. I am related to Te Whatu-i-apiti.
I am related to Te Heuheu o Te Rangi, and he did far more than Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake and that stuff. And yet you do not know him, and that is not fair. You should know him and should share in our history before Cook, and then we can enjoy each other and where we come from and where we are going.
So I really respect my education officials, who have done heaps of stuff for me.
The iwi leaders and community leaders—it has been great working with you. We have all met each other over the years, and they change and so on, but I really enjoy working with you, iwi leaders, and I will continue to do that.
Then there are the committees that I have set up, which you have been on. * Te Paepae Motuhake, thank you very much to * Tāmati Reedy and your team. Constitutional review, thank you very much—some heavies on that one. Māori economic task force—some of them are here tonight. Te Puni Kōkiri refocus group—there are many committees, and I would like to thank you all.
I would really like to thank my family. I am like, here and I am not here. “Shall we go somewhere tomorrow night?”. “Oh, I have got to go to Wellington.” “Again?”. I said: “That’s where my job is.”, and this is how it goes. Well, now they will probably say: “Aren’t you going to Wellington?”.
I am really happy that were able to effect some things. The things I have enjoyed were the * United Nations’ * Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
One of my first tasks I decided as a Minister in 2009-10 was to negotiate New Zealand’s support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Knowing that New Zealand, Australia, USA, and Canada were not involved in that at the time, I went with New Zealand and presented it, chanted my way up, did the Māori thing that we do, and I finished it. They all cheered and I was just going to sing my waiata, all my New Zealand team, the Hawaiians, and the Sami jumped up, and the whole place erupted in different cultural dances. So they were really pleased.
The next thing I know the President sent down Senator Price from the White House group to start negotiating what they are going to do. Canada called us to a meeting and said they were going to do something, so it was really good that we were able to trigger that off.
We have got a wall in the United Nations. It is all shabby, but its remnants—it is a beautiful wall but it is really, really paru. So we asked whether we could bring some * tukutuku and stuff in here, and they said no. We have got too many.
So I said: “Well, we’ll do our wall up.” So we had some beautiful tukutuku panels—really lots of them, and they have been measured to suit there, and I am looking forward to joining * Toi Māori Aotearoa and * Te Puni Kōkiri taking those over and presenting them in the near future, so that is going to be good.
In terms of the Māori language strategy, we had the * Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill today. It has been passed to go to select committee, so that is good. I was pleased to hear Nanaia say that this is not to be to be a political football.
I did not cover all the things in my speech today, but those things can be answered, so please find out from your leaders and stuff like that, or I am happy to meet with you and talk about that and so on.
So our Māori economic strategy has grown into * He Kai Kei Aku Ringa, a department now shared between the * Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Te Puni Kōkiri. We foster Māori trades overseas and economic development in New Zealand of all kinds—small to medium enterprises and so on.
We started the review of the Māori economy and it was said to be $16.4 billion and now we found out actually it is $37 billion. It is more likely $40 billion now because of that. So we are worth a bit, and we have done many excursions to Asian and to China to build up those relationships and sales.
The Auckland super city—thank you, Government, for that. Although we lost the fight, we had a march, eh, Willie? We had a march up Queen Street and we had meeting after meeting honouring the royal commission, which wanted three designated seats for Māori because they do not normally make the committee, and that is going to be a big super city.
We need them on there and Rodney was not in favour of that. Rodney was in charge of the whole thing. We could not just exchange him. He threw his toys all the way out of the cot, and so we lost that one and we did not have any after many arguments. God, he does not listen. Because of that, we went to another meeting to decide what the * Māori advisory committee should do.
We piped up and said: “Ah, it should be statutory.” And it was passed, and now it is doing such a good job, and I hope that that is a model other cities will use—to have a stand-alone, statutory Māori committee with its own budget that can sit alongside at the top meetings and so on.
Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour. I do not know how you are going to get on at Waitangi pōwhiri without me to look after you. Do you know the whole of New Zealand watches the Waitangi Day TV report just to see what happens to you at the pōwhiri?
There was “nannygate”. The “nannygate” pōwhiri held up the whole proceedings for an hour while Titawhai and her daughter, Hinewhare, in tow conducted a public dispute with another nanny about who will escort the Prime Minister on to the * marae. Many of you were there in this case. Nara dived into the scrum trying to sort it out and there they were, waiting, waiting.
Finally the Prime Minister arrived but they were not ready, so they had another fight. I was worried about my wife getting knocked over because she had a crook leg at the time. Suddenly I see her in the middle of the scrum, arms going flat out like this. I said: “Oh, my God! They are both her aunties. What is going to happen?”. And so on. So I was worried about her.
“Nek minnit” there she was right in the middle of the scrum. Anyway, I think they all had a piece of you that day, Prime Minister. You are a warrior.
Then there was “lock-up gate” pōwhiri where we were lured into the * wharenui and we were told the door would be locked and we would not be allowed to leave until you agreed to their local requests. We eventually go out of there.
And then there was “speechgate” pōwhiri. While I spoke, there was complete silence on the marae. Either they were mesmerized by my wisdom or they could not care less and were just waiting for you.
Anyway, as soon as you stood, your old friends, the brothers, began drowning you out on their megaphones from behind. In order to be heard, you walked on to the marae and the noise followed you and got louder and louder. You walked further and further and you almost sat down on the other side. You were right there on the other side.
I thought: “Hmm, I am sure that is not the rule on the marae just like that.” Yep, so that is OK. The last pōwhiri was “fishgate”. Some disgruntled ex-fan of yours, Prime Minister, decided to share his lunch with you. He tossed a whole fish at us.
But the pōwhiri of pōwhiris was “tusslegate”. To explain, Hone’s nephew’s security just came in and decided to have a piece of the Prime Minister and they just dived into us. Security was everywhere and so on. I got pushed backwards with a post behind me, and over I went.
Next minute, there were feet all around my head. I was looking up and they were all looking after the Prime Minister and tramping on me. I was just lying there. There were shoes against my head while I was lying there trying to get up. Then they finally pulled the bros off and, unaided, I staggered to my feet—your most loyal Minister.
As I said on the day at breakfast, I would have taken a bullet that day. Minister English—Tariana and I have a loving relationship with the Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English. We love both him and his cupboards full of money.
Minister English made an unreasonable assumption about us. He said we came to our meetings armed with psychological tactics to relieve him of some of his * pūtea, his money.
He said Tariana attacks first, leads the charge, and bombards him with statistics and surveys about Māori communities’ needs. She goes on and on until he feels guilty or afraid, and after some time, out comes the cheque book. Just take a note of that formula.
Then, he says, I follow on with my magnetic charm, making him feel relaxed and comfortable and asking how his wife and children are. His sore back—is it getting better? I compliment his aroha ki te iwi Māori, and—boom—out comes the cheque book with a signature.
Well, that is his story. I do not think it quite goes like that, but thank you for all the assistance you have given the projects we have put before you.
Minister Finlayson—we received our ministerial portfolios in November and December 2008. That Christmas summer holidays, Minister Finlayson was out amongst the iwi of New Zealand, making initial contacts—before Christmas, before dinner.
We had just got appointed, and he was out doing settlements and assessments over Treaty settlement issues. He probably had Christmas breakfast at * Ruātoki, lunch at * Mōhaka, and Christmas pudding in the Hokianga. Your relationship with iwi is always * rangatira ki te rangatira, and you lead and inspire your field teams, and me and Tariana as well, with the same dignity.
Thank you, Minister, and thank you also for your Māori affairs work on freeing up the Māori land for production. I am waiting—in fact, no. Hekia—she comes from that tribe where does not apply.
In fact, it is almost compulsory in that tribe to talk about yourself. But she is the only Minister to karanga and pōwhiri me into the meetings we have every week, singing “Haere mai rā …” or some * Ngati Porou song that has about eight verses or something.
As a Minister, Hekia is strong. She has inherited enormous projects like fronting for the * Novopay debacle, the schools earthquake recovery in Christchurch, * Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust difficulties, and a large education portfolio generally. I think she is mean—Māori mean—and is a great example of tū Māori mai. Kia ora.
And just a last one—I would like to acknowledge Nick Smith. Tēnā koe, Nick.
Thank you for your friendship and for educating me on climate change—how you sell nothing for something, or is it something for nothing? I do not know whether I have got that one worked out properly. Anyway, you always made time to explain stuff for me, particularly in the information communications technology world.
Everybody and the presiding officers in this House, thank you very much.
Tari and Te Ururoa—I would like to acknowledge my companion MPs, Tariana and Te Ururoa. For a decade we have worked together and lived together, creating a Māori presence in the House, in our committees, and in our ministerial and leadership roles.
One day Tari and I were having a scrap in the caucus, and she was getting really vocal, and I was sort of being cool, you know, like that. We both looked at our president, * Whatarangi. “Whatarangi?”
And he goes “Ah, yes. Tariana is showing rangatiratanga. She’s leading out and being strong about her project. Pita—he’s showing * manaakitanga, caring and so on.”, like this. We are looking at each other—so? Then he goes “What we really need here is kotahitanga.” Because that is the kaupapa, we had to accept it. So we got on.
We have had a good relationship, eh, my bro, Te Ururoa. Where is he? At the back, taking my seat. He is the only MP who goes out on the road with two right shoes. We get to the whare and he goes “Take your shoes off.” I say “No, they said leave them on.” He says “No, take them off.”—because he had two right shoes.
Sorry, bro. We have followed the advice of the late colonel * Sir James Hēnare, who said to the Māori Battalion when it arrived back from the war: “Go home to your marae. Go home to your mountain. Go home to your river. Go home to your land. Go home to your whanau.
But at all times, tū Māori mai—remember.”
That applies to anyone, not just Māori. Be strong, be yourself, and carry on and change the world.
So thank you very much. I have gone over time, but it has been a real honour to work with these two and to live with these two over the time. I would just like to abuse the system.
I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now.
E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review.
Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country.
In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”.
That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well.
Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.