by Metiria Turei
Metiria Turei’s speech to the annual gathering to celebrate the birthday of the prophet, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana
24th January, 2013
Tēnēi au e tu whakaiti nei i raro i a Ranginui, i runga i a Papatuānuku, e titiro kau ana ki ngā maunga whakahi me ngā tini uri o Tane.
Ki Te Temepara Tapu, ki ngā whare katoa o te pā nei, e tū… e tū… e tū…
E kui mā, e koro mā, ngā kaka wahanui o te pae me ngā manutioriori o rongo maraeroa tēnā koutou katoa e whakanui nei i tēnēi kaupapa i te rā nei.
Ki a koe e te Tūmuaki, e mihi kau ana ki a koe.
Tēna koutou e te iwi morehu. Kua tae mai nei te Roopu Kākāriki ki te whakanui i te huritau o tēnēi o ngā rangatira miharo rawa atu o te motu a Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.
Ka tuku au i ngā mihi o ngā mema katoa o tēnēi roopu ki a koutou
Ko au te kaiārahi wahine o te Roopu Kākāriki. Nō Ati Hau nui a Paparangi, nō Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa hoki.
Mihi mai i runga i te kaupapa e whakakōtahi nei i a tātou, arā te oranga o te iwi Māori me ngā tāngata katoa e nohonoho nei ki Aotearoa. Ko te Mangai tētehi o ngā tino pou o te motu mō te mahi whakapāhekoheko tangata.
Kei te tino whakapono mātou o Te Roopu Kākāriki i ngā hua o te whakahonore o Te Tiriti.
Kei te mohio mātou ko ngā kupu Māori ngā kupu tika. Ko te whakamanatanga o Te Tiriti o Waitangi me ōna tini ahuatanga katoa tētahi o ngā mea whakahirahira rawa atu nei i roto i to mātou kawenata.
Kāore e mutu ngā mihi kia koutou i tō manaakitanga ki a mātou i tēnēi rā. He honore nui mōku ki te korero ki a koutou i tēnēi rā ki te whakanui i te huritau o tēnēi rangatira o te motu.
I tēnēi wā ka huri au ki te Reo Pākehā.
Here I humbly stand below Ranginui, on Papatuānuku, looking with wonder at the great mountains and the descendants of Tāne.
To the sacred Temple, to all the houses of this pa, long may you stand strong.
To our esteemed elders, you are the great orators of the bench and the beautiful voices of rongo maraeroa. Many greetings to you for celebrating this day.
To you, the President, warm greetings to you.
The Green Party has arrived to celebrate the birthday of this wonderful leader of the country, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana. I pass on to you the greetings of all the members of the Green Party.
I am the female co-leader of the Green Party, of Ati Hau nui a Paparangi and Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Greetings on the kaupapa that brings us together today - the wellbeing of the Māori people and all the people of New Zealand. The Mangai (Ratana) was one the very best in the country at uniting people.
We in the Green Party deeply believe in the benefits of honouring the Treaty. We know the Māori text is the correct legal text. And the enhancement of the Treaty is a key part of our Charter.
May the greetings never end for your hospitality towards us today. It is a great opportunity for me to speak to you today to celebrate the birthday of this rangatira.
My dad would bring us to Ratana every year. It was always a big crowd and a big party. Behind the bandstand there, I had my first kiss (just a kiss, mind) when I was twelve. We’d stay in our bus and be part of this great celebration. Sometimes we’d watch the politicians come on to the marae.
I can see my dad now, leaning against the verandah, in his shorts and jandals, watching the politicians and saying “they talk a lot but they don’t say much”.
He was not a learned man, but he had a strong view about politics. For him politics was about whether or not there was enough work, enough housing, a decent school for his kids. It was about whether his whānau had enough to eat. His politics was the politics of the whānau. And all the talk in the world meant nothing if his whānau still struggled for those basics.
But he’d be proud to see me stand here, alongside you, to be part of this celebration still and to be talking on this paepae to the morehu.
As long as I held to the kaupapa of whānau politics.
In my work over the past few years, I have put child poverty at the centre of everything I do.
Central to whānau politics is the right of our tamariki to a good life and a fair future. Central to whānau politics is the right of our tamariki to a strong and healthy whānau. Central to that vision is the rightful implementation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and a return to the values of love and compassion in politics. This was the life’s work of the prophet.
Eliminating poverty is not a matter for charity, it is an act of justice. And it starts with the basics.
I talk to too many whānau who have been forced to move homes too many times, who are trapped in a no win cycle of uprooting their kids, changing schools and starting again because they can’t afford to keep up with rent rises, or the home is so cold and mouldy it’s making their kids sick, and they can’t afford to buy one of their own.
The cost of groceries, power and school fees is so high that they barely manage to get through each day, let alone put money aside each week to save for the deposit on their own home. I know we can do better for our whānau.
So today, in honour of Ratana’s political tradition and as the first Greens Co-leader to speak on this paepae I have three whānau focussed solutions for a Home for Life to present to you.
Many of us here will remember our parents and grandparents using the family benefit to buy their home, or maybe the old Māori Affairs loans. Loads of kids in my generation and earlier generations grew up in their own home because their parents had access to a low interest mortgage, with no deposit needed. It is still considered by thousands of New Zealanders as the single most critical support that a government can give to a young family – a secure affordable home.
As we were writing our Home for Life policy, the Labour Party announced their plan to build 100,000 new low cost homes. This is fantastic news and we support this policy. But it will work only for those who can afford a mortgage. Most of our whānau cannot and the Green Party policy will help fix that.
So, first we would set up a Progressive Ownership housing scheme. The government will build more state houses, with iwi, local government and community groups – modern, efficient, healthy homes.
Families would rent these homes and enter into Progressive Ownership agreements with the government. Families would pay a basic, fixed rent and be able to make extra payments to buy shares in the house.
Eventually, the family can buy the entire property or they can cash-up those savings to use as deposit on another house.
This means that whānau on low incomes, too low to get a mortgage, could start the process of owning their own homes, using the support of government, like we did in the past. There would be no mortgage, so no risk of families losing their homes and they could just pay the basic rent when times get tough. It would be affordable for our whānau.
Because our focus is on the best life for our tamariki, families with children would get first preference.
But for many reasons people will still need, or prefer to rent. Seventy per cent of poor children live in a rental house. Yet tenants are constantly worried about being kicked out, about asking the landlord to fix it up in case they kicked out and always worried about the rent increasing.
So we propose two major changes to better protect tenants.
First, we would give tenants a first right of renewal on their tenancy. A right of renewal gives renting families security knowing that they can continue to live in their home if they want and they can raise legitimate concerns with the landlord without fear they’ll be kicked out.
Second, we would change the law so rent increases would be limited to once every twelve months and the process for deciding increases will have to be in the tenancy agreement. That means families will have certainty about rent increases, when they will happen and how much they will be.
These proposals offer better security for landlords and allow whānau to build stronger links within their communities and give our kids more secure homes.
Warrant of fitness for rentals
Our third proposal is to make homes healthier and safer for our kids. Too many damp and cold homes are making too many kids sick. In Christchurch, investors are buying up broken homes and renting them to poor families, families who do not deserve to be ripped off.
We say a rental house needs to meet a minimum healthy standard. Houses will need to be insulated, weather-tight, have heating, hot and cold tap water, a toilet, a shower or a bath, electricity and a stove before it can be rented out. Would you believe they don’t have to at the moment?
Landlords are in the business of providing a service and their product ought to meet minimum standards, just like any other product or service does. They can of course access the Greens Warm Up New Zealand fund to help with the cost of insulation.
Our children should no longer be forced to live in cold, damp substandard houses that make them sick.
These three proposals make up our Home for Life package. They are practical solutions to our housing crisis and offer whānau and families a real chance at decent housing and home ownership.
I want to acknowledge Whaea Tariana. She has been such an inspiration to me even where we have disagreed. I have become strong advocate of her Whānau Ora vision because I can see how it transforms and empowers whānau, in a way never tried in politics before. I am a fierce advocate for the right of every whānau to a warm dry home, to good school and to a decent dignified income. And for every solution that helps deliver this, as Whānau Ora does.
In my work over the last ten years, I have seen how Maori politics has transformed. We are no longer caged within one, or two, political frames. Ngā Uri are strong and diverse. We have taken every opportunity for new political power and held politicians to account.
Ratana is still the first place politicians come because here we have to face the people. And show whether we have lived up to the kaupapa of whānau politics.
I hope that I have honoured you, and the memory of my dad, today.
Tēna koutou, tēna koutou tēna koutou kātoa.