Maori need to stand up for their cultural beliefs and shape their own future, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says.
The well-respected whaea was the key speaker at the inaugural Te Pa Harakeke Matariki Symposium in Horowhenua yesterday.
More than a hundred community leaders gathered at Manawatu College for the one-day forum, which celebrated the first birthday of Foxton's Te Pa Harakeke o Te Awahou early childhood centre and had a range of Maori leaders talking about housing, health and education issues.
Turia told the audience Maori could learn lessons from their ancestors' struggles.
"We need to look back to our kaupapa to inform us about what was and what should be," she said.
"That's critical for us as tangata whenua, the first people on this land, to understand the roles, rights, responsibilities and obligations that come from our tupuna down to us today.
"We need to maintain and hold fast with our cultural beliefs and we must continue to fight for our cultural rights in whatever setting; we owe it to our kids, we owe it to their future and we owe it to the future of this country," she said.
Turia talked about the need for Maori to be motivated, self-sufficient and confident community members who instilled the same standards in the next generation.
"We are like the trees, and our root system is bound with kaupapa and tikanga," she said.
"If we don't follow that or we allow others to invade our root systems space then they contaminate the environment.
"When you look at every negative statistic in this country, we seem to fit those stats; we're mad, we're bad, we're sad and that's what we're led to believe, but all of us know another story.
"We know about the importance of the kaupapa and we know our responsibilities as whanau to love and nurture our kids, but we also owe it to them to not allow others to banish their livelihood.
"We must be protective of our children from the time they're born, and as part of that we have to own up to those things we're not doing right and be really clear about what our obligations are to protect them, and to make sure our children are known within our cultural space."
- Manawatu Standard
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