Tena koutou katoa

Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana.

A child taught well at home and cherished within the whanau will thrive within society and throughout their life - a truism that is hard to deny.

However our social deprivation statistics tell another story – one of whanau disruption, disconnection and despair. So what went wrong?


The impact of colonisation is an obvious place to start.

Take away the land, strip the culture, assimilate the people and make them dependent on the state – a common colonisation denominator that sealed the fate of many indigenous populations around the world.

In Aotearoa, establish the native land court, alienate our lands, establish legislation to alienate our culture, deny Treaty rights at the same time rewarding us with handouts that shows us how grateful we should be that the State has come to our rescue.

Hallelujah – we are saved! I think not.

Only we can save ourselves.

Break the shackles of dependency and achieve real tino rangatiratanga.

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A pipe dream to some and of little comfort to those suffering today but a future we must aspire to if we are to be saved!

We are a resilient people lauded by other indigenous communities around the world as trend setters, leaders in this space but in reality, we have a long way to go.

Our economy and capacity is growing, as is our ability to exercise our political influence but the continuing disconnect and dysfunction within many of our whanau seems insurmountable.

I am an optimist by nature and don't accept this.

The recent Te Arawa kapa haka regionals highlighted the value of connecting people, culture and place.

The whanaungatanga, pride and energy was infectious.

Imagine if we could transport this feeling of identity and self-esteem to all of our whanau.

What a difference that would make.

Put that alongside uplifting te reo, marae wananga, and a swathe of other opportunities, then we can surely realise a brighter future for our whanau in generations to come.

However I can hear it now – "this is nice but of little comfort for those who are suffering today".

True – I acknowledge that my comments are geared towards interventions that address the cause rather than the symptoms.

As a "youngish" koeke my head space is towards a legacy of hope and prosperity while acknowledging the despair of today.

Kia kaha! Kia manawanui!