Kelvin Davis Maiden Speech

List MP delivered his yesterday. Davis was a very respected principal in Northland before becoming an MP. Some extracts:

Prosperity of all Maori is necessary if we are to fulfil the words of our great Tai Tokerau rangatira Sir James Henare, when he once said, “It is preposterous that any Maori should aspire to become a poor pakeha when their true destiny, prescribed by the Creator, is to become a great Maori.”

What makes Maori great? I believe any Maori who achieves their potential or beyond and bolsters the standing of their whänau and community achieves a measure of greatness. As a former principal it was immensely rewarding to witness the joy and satisfaction on the face of whänau when their children achieved. I was acutely aware though of how thin those ranks of achievement are in many of our schools.

NZ history shows that Maori can succeed in the face of adversity. But this success needs to become the norm rather than the exception. The greatness of a nation is linked to the distinction of its people. Mr Speaker I come to the House seeking to make a contribution that enriches our nation through expanding the ranks of those Maori families who seek educational achievement. The lessons of the chalkface have value and ought to be borne in mind as we debate how to innovate, fund and improve our system of education.

Reducing the number of Maori who leave school unable to read and write, let alone achieving qualifications is a goal I am sure all parties share.

Educational engagement and achievement is vital to Maori greatness and prosperity. We will achieve more with one full generation of highly educated Maori, than we will from the last 168 years of grievance.

I’ve spent twenty years at the chalk face in education. I enjoyed a 14 year career as a Principal and am especially proud of the achievements of the Board of Trustees, staff and students of Kaitaia Intermediate School, which in seven years saw a school turn from almost total academic failure to academic success.

In my experience, while there can be several factors affecting a school, the quality of leadership from its principal has a great impact than all the other factors. I’d personally pay the top principals a lot more.

Conversely, we – Maori – have to realise one of our greatest weaknesses is to blame the system. We know that history has conspired against us; we know a heck of a lot happened to our people that set our progress and development back and has resulted in our struggle to prosper and achieve greatness.

But as critical as I am of those who deny the effects of the damage the system has done to Maori over the last 168 years, I am equally critical of Maori who only blame the system for their own failings.

Do we as a people have the courage to accept responsibility for our lives? It’s time for us to collectively step up and as we say – para te huarahi – blaze a trail.

I’ve sat in hui where the talk has all been about the injustices, the grievances, the excessive navel gazing that stagnates the mind and saps the energy and the soul.

It’s time we stopped wallowing in self pity and instead looked for solutions.

Excellent stuff. If this is the quality of the new Labour intake, they will do well.

I conclude Mr Speaker by stating that I have hope for the future, the future of my children and the future for us as Maori. I believe that by lifting Maori educational achievement, and by us as Maori having the courage to take control of our present, we will as a people achieve prosperity and the future greatness that is our destiny.

Hell, I’m almost looking forward to Davis as a Minister! A very different quality to the Mahara Okeroa’s and Dave Hereroa’s.

The full speech is over the break

Kelvin Davis
Maiden Speech to
Wednesday 10 December 2008

Whakarongo mai, whakarongo mai.
Whakarongo mai ki tënei uri a Ngatokimatawhaorua
E tu atu ra i te akau o Ipipiri
E tuwhera atu ra te awa o Taumarere-herehere-i-te-riri.
Ka rere ma Otuihu, tae ki nga rekereke o Tapukewharawhara
Raro i a Puketohunoa, ko Puhangahau
Takoto kau nga koiwi tupuna
Ara mai he tëtëkura
Ka hiki te manawa e te kakara reka o Te Karetu
Nga kaitiaki o te ahika ko Ngati Manu
Tihewa mauri Ora

Tena tätou katoa i whakarauikatia mai i raro i te tähuhu o to tätou Whare.

Tena ra hoki koutou töku whänau whanui i patu mai i nga huarahi mai i nga pito tawhiti o te motu ki te tatü ki konei hei tautoko i te kaupapa o te ra nei.

Tena tätou o tätou mate maha.

Mr Speaker I acknowledge and congratulate you on your election to your position.

I also acknowledge the Leaders of the Labour Party, the Hon. Phil Goff and Hon. Annette King. I look forward to working with you both, the Labour Caucus and to making a contribution to our team and nation.

Also I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the Rt. Hon Helen Clark for her formidable leadership of the Labour Party and indeed as Prime Minister of New Zealand for the last nine years. I thank you Helen for the way you honoured my people of Ngati Manu earlier this year when you visited our valley and marae and endorsed my candidacy.

With affection I acknowledge my family and friends. Those who have been able to traverse the length of Te Ika a Maui to be here, especially my wife Moira and my father Panapa, as well as those who couldn’t be here including my children Kelly, Billie and Reweti, my mother Glenys, my brothers Patrick and Greg, my sister Sonya, my brothers and sisters in law, mother and father in law, Tom and Raewyn Hoddle, my numerous nephews and nieces, Aunties and Uncles, cousins and my whänau from Ngati Manu.

I also acknowledge my many tribal connections: in the mid-North to Te Kapotai, Ngati Hine, Ngapuhi whanui, Ngati Wai, Ngati Whatua.

In the Far North I acknowledge iwi Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto, Ngati Kahu and Te Rarawa – and those of my iwi further south in particular Ngai Tai, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Raukawa.

I am honoured to have stood for Labour in the seat of Te Tai Tokerau and although disappointed not to have won it, I acknowledge my whanaunga Hone Harawira who was successful. Tena koe e Hone.

I also congratulate and acknowledge all other Maori members of parliament and hope that Maori will see the benefits of our presence here.

Mr Speaker, I hail from the valley of Karetu. Across the road from our marae stands Puketohunoa one of our ancestral maunga. On the summit of Puketohunoa once dwelled my tupuna Whetoi Pomare. From his whare named Tihema he had sweeping panoramas of the valley and across to Ruapekapeka the site of the last of the battle of the Northern Land Wars.

At the foot of our maunga Puketohunoa flows our Karetu creek which runs seaward and connects with our tupuna awa, known as Taumarere-herehere-i-te-riri.

One of our Ngati Manu waiata connect these three features to one another in the lines, “Tu ana mätou ki runga o Puketohunoa, ka titiro atu ki Ruapekapeka, ka hoki mai ki te puna o oku matua e, e karekare nei e ko Taumarere.”

If you were to drift in the current of first the Käretu creek past the foot of Puketohunoa, in to the flow of Taumarere you would eventually pass by the cradle of our nation, Waitangi, where as we all know in February 1840 a number Maori chiefs, including my tupuna Whetoi Pomare drew their moko onto a piece of paper that is now known as the Treaty of Waitangi.

I would like to believe that when my tupuna Pomare etched the shape of his facial tattoo onto that piece of paper that he did it in the hope that his actions would ensure the future prosperity of his whänau, hapü and iwi.

168 years later and the world has changed beyond what my tupuna could have imagined. But what hasn’t changed, at least in my whänau is that in the six generations since, from generation to generation through to my grandparents, parents and to my brothers and sister and I, is the understanding that our actions today leave a legacy for generations to come and must contribute to the ongoing prosperity of whänau, hapü and iwi.

Prosperity of all Maori is necessary if we are to fulfil the words of our great Tai Tokerau rangatira Sir James Henare, when he once said, “It is preposterous that any Maori should aspire to become a poor pakeha when their true destiny, prescribed by the Creator, is to become a great Maori.”

What makes Maori great? I believe any Maori who achieves their potential or beyond and bolsters the standing of their whänau and community achieves a measure of greatness. As a former principal it was immensely rewarding to witness the joy and satisfaction on the face of whänau when their children achieved. I was acutely aware though of how thin those ranks of achievement are in many of our schools.

NZ history shows that Maori can succeed in the face of adversity. But this success needs to become the norm rather than the exception. The greatness of a nation is linked to the distinction of its people. Mr Speaker I come to the House seeking to make a contribution that enriches our nation through expanding the ranks of those Maori families who seek educational achievement. The lessons of the chalkface have value and ought to be borne in mind as we debate how to innovate, fund and improve our system of education.

Being a great achiever begins for our children when they enjoy aroha, that is, unconditional love from parents and caregivers who realise that raising children is not a right to do as you like but an obligation to the next generation.

Educational engagement and achievement is vital to Maori greatness and prosperity. We will achieve more with one full generation of highly educated Maori, than we will from the last 168 years of grievance. We need Maori to be educated so that we become the people of influence and the decision makers.

I’ve spent twenty years at the chalk face in education. I enjoyed a 14 year career as a Principal and am especially proud of the achievements of the Board of Trustees, staff and students of Kaitaia Intermediate School, which in seven years saw a school turn from almost total academic failure to academic success.

We proved at Kaitaia Intermediate School that Maori do not need to wait decades or generations to see improvements to Maori achievement and wellbeing at school. It can happen almost immediately.

With the right approach by Principals, teachers, bureaucrats, politicians and others within the system Maori can – and will – make immense and rapid gains in achievement – which will lead on to Maori health gains and life expectancy, financial well being, leadership positions and influence and being able to collectively and fully contribute to our country.

We must ensure our education system engages Maori from their first day of school right through until their last day at the end of year thirteen, and onto a lifetime striving for knowledge, wisdom and understanding. For many Maori disengagement from the educational system is but the first step in disengagement from society in general.

Maori will never achieve greatness or beyond our potential unless we are educationally successful. Therefore it is imperative if Maori are to achieve great things, we need to get the education system right for Maori.

Conversely, we – Maori – have to realise one of our greatest weaknesses is to blame the system. We know that history has conspired against us; we know a heck of a lot happened to our people that set our progress and development back and has resulted in our struggle to prosper and achieve greatness.

But as critical as I am of those who deny the effects of the damage the system has done to Maori over the last 168 years, I am equally critical of Maori who only blame the system for their own failings.

Do we as a people have the courage to accept responsibility for our lives? It’s time for us to collectively step up and as we say – para te huarahi – blaze a trail.

I’ve sat in hui where the talk has all been about the injustices, the grievances, the excessive navel gazing that stagnates the mind and saps the energy and the soul.

It’s time we stopped wallowing in self pity and instead looked for solutions.

It’s time our hui were all forward thinking, positive and solution based.

Last Wednesday I attended a seminar where a group of Maori gathered to discuss Information and Communications Technology. These people were educated, professional and motivated. There was no self pity, there was no talk of grievance, there was no talk of injustice. There were problems and frustrations, but they searched for solutions. We need to replicate that sense of purpose and mission in our hui, our marae and our homes.

Blaming the system implies we are too weak as a people to help ourselves, that we are victims.

Bad stuff has happened, but we must cease to be victims.

Maori need to sort ourselves out. Education is the passport, but we need to put ourselves on the flight to the future. Obviously policy, process, ideology are a part of the journey and it will happen with a collaboration of the spirit.

A kaumätua said to me earlier this year that the problem with our Maori youth is actually us – the adults. His words to me were – We need to lay off our youth and sort ourselves out. If we want our Maori youth to act in a certain way, to achieve personal greatness then they need us Maori adults to be role models and demonstrate how that’s to be done.

If we’re serious about wanting to prosper and provide hope for our kids then us Maori adults need to step up.

We Maori men – need to step up.

It is said – Being a male is a matter of birth. Being a man is a matter of choice.

Likewise, being a Maori is a matter of birth, but being a Maori achiever is a matter of choice.

We Maori men must have the courage to lead our whänau and hapü towards prosperity and greatness.

We are renowned for our warrior spirit but it is time that warrior spirit manifested itself in new ways. We need to replace anger, grievance and self pity with dignity, determination, resilience and forgiveness.

I conclude Mr Speaker by stating that I have hope for the future, the future of my children and the future for us as Maori. I believe that by lifting Maori educational achievement, and by us as Maori having the courage to take control of our present, we will as a people achieve prosperity and the future greatness that is our destiny.

That road to greatness has been paved with trials and tribulations. But those trials and tribulations never stopped Sir James Henare, a boy from Motatau, deep in the heart of Ngati Hine stand as an example of how our destiny as Maori, prescribed by the Creator, is to achieve greatness.

I look forward to the contributions I can make to this 49th Parliament, as an educator, as a politician and as a Maori, for the benefit of the whole nation.

No reira tatou ma, huri noa i to tätou whare. Rau rangatira ma, e te whänau, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.


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