“Everything I do is motivated by the type of world I want my 26 mokopuna (grandchildren) and 26 mokopuna turua (great grandchildren) to inherit”
Region: Te Tai Hauauru
“My life’s life has been in trying to live in ways according to the kaupapa and the tikanga of those who have walked me; to live up to their aspirations”
Ethnicity/Nationality: Ngā Wairiki/Ngāti Apa; Ngāti Tūwharetoa; Whanganui; Ngā Rauru
“Wairuatanga is a key foundation of my life”
Hon Tariana Turia is currently the Co-Leader of the Māori Party, Minister for Whānau Ora and MP for Te Tai Hauāuru, but is set to retire at the NZ Election 2014.
Tariana’s official Māori Party profile page is available here. On her page you will see that she was a NZ Labour Party List MP from 1996-1999 and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauāuru from July 2002 to May 2004 prior to forming the Māori Party.
She says her life is driven by a desire to improve outcomes for whānau, hapū and iwi. She has been actively involved in establishing health, education, employment and social service organisations to support whānau in achieving their aspirations. Tariana’s reasons for entering parliament were that she believed it to be ‘an important step in being able to continue this work on behalf of our people’.
After the Foreshore and Seabed bill was introduced, Tariana believed ‘if ever there was a time for a strong independent Māori voice to influence parliament’ it was then. Tariana believed Māori voices had been ‘subsumed far too long within a majority agenda’. Her motivation for setting up the Māori Party on July 11, 2004 stemmed from her commitment to uphold the dreams and aspirations of Māori and ‘carry those voices into parliament’.
Tariana describes her political ideology as driven by:
“Whānau Ora – to do all that she can to support whānau to be self-managing, living healthy lifestyle and participating fully in society, confidently participating in tea o Māori; economically secure and successfully involved in wealth creation, cohesive, resilient and nurturing”.
One of the most influential people with regard to her personal politics is Matua Whatarangi Winiata. She expresses her ‘utmost respect and all abiding love’ for him, believing that he demonstrates the capacity to live in a way which upholds kaupapa Māori. Tariana is proud of her whakapapa connection to him, which she greatly values and is also continually inspired to be in his presence.
While Tariana doesn’t subscribe to the ‘term’ feminism, she explains that she is more comfortable with a statement made by the late Merata Mita:
“The principle of Mana Wahine, a Māori concept which exceeds the boundaries of feminism and incorporates a dimension of spirituality emanating from the primary element of Hine-ahu-one. I am Māori, I am woman, I am family, I am tribe, and only one of the facets of who I am fits comfortably under the label feminism”.
On reproductive rights of women
Tariana is a strong supporter of maintaining whakapapa – our genealogical connections.
On economic contributions of women (unpaid)
Tariana believes that “women make an enormous contribution to every aspect of our society”. She remembers her friend, the late Irihapeti Ramsden talking about the many roles we [women] once occupied:
“Once were gardeners, once were astronomers, once were philosophers, once were lovers”
Tariana considers that:
“We nurture and raise our whānau – and that is a major contribution to society”
“we need to be proud of our capacity to be hunters and gatherers as well as taking up the full range of career options available to us”.
On Wage disparity
Tariana supports the Living Wage campaign and calls on employers to offer a living wage. She believes that:
“Staff are not business costs to be minimised – they are a business’s greatest asset”
“Investing in skilled, productive, stable and enthusiastic workforce can boost business turnover and profits”
On support services for women
Tariana considers that a great deal of work has gone into transforming the disability sector through the ‘Enabling Good Lives’ approach. She explains that the concept is that:
“disabled persons and their families are supported to achieve the plans they set for themselves, and to do whatever it takes to make their lives the best they can”.
She also considers this:
“a philosophical approach which is the underpinning of Whānau Ora – that we recognise the potential for every family to achieve their aspiration aims whether they be social (health education, social inclusion), economic (such as an expanding asset base) or cultural and collective gains”
What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?
“I would love to be more proficient in te reo Māori. It is a long held ambition of mine to advance my knowledge of te reo rangatira”
In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?
“People who are disrespectful of another human being”
What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?
“I live by the value, highlight my strengths and my weaknesses disappear. I think we need to use our collective genius to ensure communities are empowered to develop local solutions to local problems”
What is the best gift you’ve ever given?
“The gift of life through our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren”
What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
“My aunty Ruku Te Kauki Taiaroa Arahanga gave me a piece of beautiful white pounamu. It directly conneed me to he tupuna; hori Taiaroa MP for Southern Māori from 1871 – while also having the most comforting presence to hold”
Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t.
“When every member of the Labour Māori Caucus was prepared to support legislation which I believed to take the last part of customary land out of our hands, I felt like I should leave. I chose to leave that party, but instead take a new pathway, in establishing the Māori Party – and I have never looked back”
If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?
“To restore rangatiratanga to whānau, hapū and iwi”
Because Hon Tariana Turia is retiring at the 2014 Election, it is only fitting here that I tautoko her incredible contribution to Mana Wahine in Māori Politics. Additionally, to tautoko her efforts to incorporate kauapapa Māori as common practice in New Zealand politics partly through the establishment of the Māori Party – the only existing party entirely dedicated to an independent Māori voice, but also through her consistent use of Māori philosophies in the policies and institutions she has helped to set up. Tariana has exhibited an unwwavering resolve to support the dreams and aspirations of Māori and to improve outcomes for whānau, hapu and iwi. Although Tariana’s time in politics has not been without criticism including from many Māori, few would challenge that Tariana was (is) a tireless and devoted voice of the Māori struggle.