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Speech

Porowini Marae, Otiria

Issue date: 
Saturday, 21 February 1998
Speaker: 
The Rt Hon Sir Michael Hardie Boys, GNZM, GCMG, QSO

E weehi ano to te rangi - e weehi ano to te whenua - e weehi ano to te takiwa.

(There is that which is to be revered in the heavens; and over the earth; that which is to be revered throughout the universe.)

Uuia kia Rangi-nui e tuu iho nei - ia Papa-tua-nuku e takoto nei - tohia nga hua o te tau - hue haa!

(I seek spiritual guidance from Ranginui on high; from Papatuanuku, mother earth who extends before us. I beseech both to make known their bounties!)

Hikurangi taumata - nau me to iwi - ia Ngati-Hine - i karanga nga maunga tapu - o te hiku wai-rawa - kia hui tahi - kia hono piri - te tahuhu o te Tai Tokerau -

mai Tamaki ki Te Hiku - e mihi ana kia koutou.

(Prestigious summit of Mt Hikurangi, you and your people Ngati-Hine have assembled all the sacred mountains of the North, so that the ancient ridge poles of the northern tribes are brought together, from Tamaki to Te Rerenga Wairua, Spirits' Leap. I greet you all.)

Rongo - marae - roa e hora nei - takoto - takoto! E te pataka - e te kupu - o nga tupuna - e tuu - e tuu!

(I acknowledge the courtyard of assembly that spreads out before us, the Marae. I acknowledge too the Wharenui that is a storehouse from whence oratory and history are sourced.)

E nga tapu - e nga mana - e nga ihi - e nga maunga - e nga upoko ariki - o te Tai Tokerau nui tonu - tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

(This assembly of ancient sacredness, authority, rank, sacred mountains and all the high-ranking chiefs of the northern tribes, I greet you one and all.)

I am very grateful to you all for your welcome. My wife and I and those of our household who have been able to travel with us are truly delighted at this, our first, opportunity to meet with the people of Tai Tokerau.

Your people have played a pivotal role in the history of our nation. Here in the north was perhaps the first landfall. Your tipuna were the first to encounter pakeha in any quantity (I say nothing of quality). It was here that the gospel was first proclaimed. It was here that the declaration of independence was signed. And it was here that the first signatures were affixed to its successor, our founding charter, Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It was here that the inevitable conflict of cultures and expectations first emerged. And from here came great leaders such as Sir James Henare, who saw that the way ahead for all people lay not on the narrow path of conflict but on the often much more difficult path of reconciliation; a path that is longer, but that is wide enough for us to walk on side by side.

And so Tau Henare and Ngati-Hine oversaw the building of the Whare Rununga on the Treaty Grounds. And my predecessor Sir Bernard Fergusson was privileged to open this beautiful house Tuma-tau-enga, named after the god of war, and built on this marae, which was the gift of Pita Kingi, as a memorial to those who had fought in two World Wars. Conflict had once pushed our peoples apart. Now it had brought our peoples together, because we were united in our determination to destroy the evil that threatened all that we knew to be good. Do we not need that same determination today?

There are of course times when conflict is unavoidable, even necessary. But such times are rare, and it is important that this is understood to be so. For conflict is almost always a rocky, divisive, destructive, path. It denies the opportunity for dialogue and so for learning and for understanding. There are those among us even today who would take us down that path. Look where their efforts have brought us. For example, I have now officiated at two Waitangi Day commemorations, but they have not been at a place where the Treaty was signed. I long to be at Waitangi on Waitangi Day. With some generosity, some goodwill, some courtesy, and some strong leadership, it will surely be possible.

In speaking as I do, I do not gloss over the realities. The failures to honour the Treaty were real enough. The consequences of those failures are real enough too, especially here in the north. I can understand the urge to protest. There are things that need to be said and heard, people need to be made to sit up and listen. Protest can bring results. But unless we are careful it can be counterproductive. The distinction between what is effective and what is counterproductive is a very fine one. Appreciation of where the dividing line lies is the mark of true leadership.

One of the features of the opening of Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, the nation's treasure chest, was the presence of Te Aurere, the great ocean-going waka-hourua from here in the north.

Its presence there in Wellington spoke to me of several things. First, it spoke of the quite marvellous constructional and navigational skills of those ancestors who first came to this land. Secondly it spoke of our affinity, as a people, with the sea, indeed our dependence upon it, for the forbears of all of us have come to this land on or over it; it is there for all of us to enjoy; and its bounty provides food for us all, and will continue to do so, as long as we are good stewards, exercising responsibility not only towards each other but also for our mokopuna.

But thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that Te Aurere was there in Wellington, for what was a day of national celebration, spoke eloquently of that sharing, that coming together in mutual respect and understanding, that is the antithesis of conflict, and that is crucial not only to the attainment of justice and harmony in this land, but also to our very survival as a nation in the global community to which we belong.

I have spoken of realities. It is also a reality that there is now much greater understanding of the past, than perhaps ever before, a much greater appreciation of each other, a much greater determination to put right the wrongs of the past. We must take advantage of that. We must work speedily towards the just and reasonable resolution of all Treaty claims. Those who have already achieved a settlement have shown how resources in the hand now, are worth infinitely more than the prospect of a little more away in the future.

We have to resolve the difficult issue of customary rights and customary title. We have to talk through the significance of that rangitiratanga that was assured in the second article of the Treaty.

There is no quick-fix solution to these issues. Time and history have not stood still. The world is now a very different place from what it was 158 years ago; and so is Aotearoa, New Zealand. And so these issues must be discussed and resolved in the context of today, in the context of this multi-ethnic society of ours, in the context of the wider world where our very survival depends on high levels of skills and great commitment. It's a very hard competitive world out there, and we cannot insulate ourselves from it.

These are far-ranging issues. But there are others, just as urgent, close to home - issues of education and health and housing and employment. I know how great a concern these are to you people in the North. I know that a great many of you are doing your utmost to deal with them. I know too that financial resources are very limited. I can only express my admiration for the work that is being done, and the confidence that as resources do come to hand, they will be used wisely, in what must surely be the most essential exercise of rangitiratanga.

Let me draw a final analogy from the great waka Te Aurere. People sometimes talk of the ship of State. That conjures up pictures of some great liner - not a Titanic I hope - but even so, it sounds a bit grand, a bit imperial. Here in this country, I like to think in terms of a waka: a waka in which we are all the crew, whether we like it or not, all with work to do, all with a part to play. Those who set the sail must be in agreement with those who hold the tiller. And if we are paddling, everyone must pull together, matching strength with strength, pulling in unison. Otherwise, where do we go?

May I thank you again for the privilege of being with you today. Karanga mai, mihi mai, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Last updated: 
Friday, 9 January 2009

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