Alfred Ngaro, our first MP of Cook Island dscent, had the honour of moving the Address in Reply speech yesterday.
His was one of the most memorable maiden speechs I’ve listend to.
I began cutting and pasting highlights but that does it a disservice so here it is in its entirety:
I move, That a respectful address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, in reply to His Excellency’s speech.
The ancient chants of my people declare this Pe’e
Taku manu Nui
Taku manu Rai
Taku manu ka rere tauiti-iti
Ki Tonga e Tokerau
O Great Bird
O little Bird
Fly away to the four corners of the earth
Spread your wings and shelter your people with a divine blessing.
But come back home, come back home, come back home.
Mr Speaker these are words spoken by our tupuna and our leaders as they set out on a journey of challenge and change. They were given the mantel of responsibility with the hope of providing for the needs or inspiring them to take action. This Pe’e or chant is part of the on-going legacy of our people and I stand in their shadows today.
Nō reira, e ngā rangatira, e ngā waka, e ngā karanga maha, tēnā koutou.
Tēnā koutou i runga i te painga o tō tātou Matua Nui i te Rangi.
Ahakoa he tangata no moana nui a kiwa, ki rarotonga, ki Aitutaki, ki Mangaia, ki Pukapuka kē ahau, he mihi tonu atu ki a koutou, arā,
Nō reira, tēnā koutou.
[So greetings to you leaders, and canoes, and the many callings. Greetings under the goodness of our Great Father in Heaven. Even though I am a person who comes from the oceans of the Pacific and the motus Aitutaki, Mangaia, and Pukapuka, I acknowledge you, with great respect.]
Firstly Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-appointment to the prestigious role of Speaker of this Parliament. I look forward to being under your guidance and leadership in this chamber.
I can remember fondly the W Three show that you hosted where you would ask questions of students that started with the letter W; the when, where, what, why and who.
How fitting it is that you now find yourself the host as the contest of ideals are battled out in the debating halls of this chamber. And though the three-piece suits has given way to the two-piece you are still looking sharp and suave as ever, and If these comments endear me to your favour of indulgence in the House within the next three years, then so be it.
So Mr Speaker, with this nostalgic view of the W Three show in mind, I would like to base my maiden speech on the Why for 40 points, the What for 30 and the When for 20.
Why for 40. Why am I here today as a member of Parliament?
I am here today because of my late grandmother, Mama Rite Tepaki Goldstein, who had a dream that one day her grandchildren, her mokopuna would walk in the ways of their ancestors and lead the people. I hold one of the many letters she wrote that made me believe. She never dwelt on the things I couldn’t do, just kept reminding me of my future potential. Granny your dreams are realised today in me.
I am here today to represent part of the growing diversity of our country.
I am a Kiwi kid born in 1966 at the old St Helens hospital in Pitt Street, Auckland. I went to Richmond Road Primary School, and then off to West Auckland at eight years of age and schooled in Te Atatu South and Henderson; just an ordinary kid with a state education.
But I’m a New Zealander of Pacific descent. My parents both come from the Cook Islands, Mangaia, Aitutaki, and Pukapuka and we were initially raised in the inner city streets of Ponsonby, We attended the Pacific Island Church in Newton, Auckland, first generation, New Zealand born.
There have been a number of commentators who have talked on the “browning of Auckland and our nation”, and yet our leaders do not reflect this proportion to our populations’ rapid growth in numbers.
I am here to day to fill that gap as the first Cook Islander to enter the New Zealand Parliament and proud of it, over 60,000 instant voters, and as the Tui ads say, No pressure mate; yeah right!
I am here today because my parents, Taniela Ngaro and Toko Kirianu Ngaro, worked hard as Pacific migrants for long hours, low wages, and often more than one job just to make ends meet and to give us a better life. Meitaki maata e toku mama e papa.
I am here today because my wife told me to do something, she challenged me that it was about time to stop mucking around in the sandpit and start to play on a bigger field to make a greater difference. Thank you Mokauina Fuemana for those kind nurturing words of support, you have truly been my inspiration and soul mate, and I do love you.
To my children Roxcie, Winona, Aquila, and Shalom and my daughter-in-law Esther and granddaughter Skyla, I am here today so that you will be encouraged and challenged to be the best that you can be and to extend your reach above the stars. I love you dearly.
I am here today because the National Party executive gave me a ticket on the bus but truly believe I can make a real contribution to the nation through the party. I want to acknowledge party president Peter Goodfellow and the other members of the executive board.
I am also here today because of my good friend Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga who encouraged and challenged me to consider stepping into politics. Thank you my friend. Thank you also to the Maungakiekie electoral and campaign team for your support. I want to acknowledge the boys at 4pm group Hamish and Frank and all my dear friends and family. Apparently there are some people still left in Rarotonga. Even though some of you sat on the other political divide you supported me because you believed in me.
I am here today because my faith in God has had me believe that I have a purpose in this life to understand the gift I have and to serve the world.
There is an ancient saying that declares: “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house….”
My faith and my family have taught me to serve faithfully, to serve wisely and to serve whole heartedly.
So I stand today ready to serve our communities and nation as a member of this National Party caucus team and its leadership and especially that of our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key.
The What for 30 points: What do I want to do as a member of Parliament?
Mr Speaker, what I want to bring to this House of representatives is a pragmatic, relevant, and connected approach to government policies and legislation based on my experiences as a tradesman electrician – the most honourable of trades – I come here as a pastor, an NGO manager, a senior government advisor, and a community development business consultant having to deal with a complexity of stakeholder relationships.
In other words, making policy and legislation that works for the people, by the people, and with the people.
I want to bring the teachings of our humble beginnings where we were taught to work hard for everything that we had. I can still remember my brother Danny and I as kids cleaning with mum at her second job at the Newton Post Office on K Road at night. Mum you told me off once for not emptying the bins properly, you said it doesn’t matter what job you’re doing, you should always do your best. You taught me a lesson for life and that is that attitude is the key to success.
Education with the right attitude can achieve anything.
I endorse the view of the Prime Minister that equity of opportunities of training and learning and mentoring deserves our greatest focus and that the outcomes of successful employment, business development, and growth will follow.
Great examples such as the Otorohunga Youth employment scheme where the local council has taken the lead with a can do attitude of reducing youth unemployment by providing training opportunities for all its young people.
Or the Manaiakalani project in Tamaki where a blended approach with E learning tools and multi-stakeholder support has seen rapid rise in our literacy rates.
Our communities and society have become truly consummerised where the value of what I can get is greater than what I can give.
I want to contribute my experiences in working with communities to find their own solutions by using transformative processes as the way forward so that there is more community and less government.
That’s why I support the work of Whanau Ora where we put the responsibility back in the hands of whanau and families, and this is not just a Maori thing but a truly indigenous Kiwi approach to caring for families and whanau.
I have worked with philanthropic entrepreneurs like Stephen Tindall and the Tindall Foundation to support the development of organisations like Inspiring Communities, a home grown Kiwi approach to sharing the learning stories that have inspired community innovative solutions up and down the country.
I want to declare on this day, the 21st of December, that I am committed to being a strong advocate for fathering in this nation. To encourage those that are, and respectfully but intentionally challenge those that are not.
The effects of fatherlessness on boys are well-documented. Boys without dads are four times as likely to drop out of school and many more times likely to end up involved in crime and drugs.
I am particularly proud of the work we have done with the SKIP team at MSD around fathering with The Warehouse distribution centre in Manukau. Where we addressed the issues of fathering by sharing and learning from each other and then wrote our own book. What was truly remarkable was that not only did we increase knowledge and confidence of fathering and parenting, but connectivity amongst the staff and management went up 90 per cent, productivity went up 30 per cent and absenteeism went down two full days for every employee. In fact we even won the EEO trust supreme award for employee well-being and company profit and production. When asked what was the magic that made this happen, I said no magic, we simply brought the dignity of humanity back into the workplace and people felt like they belonged. They became a family.
This is strong evidence that great community led development combines both social and economic development. You can have your cake and eat it.
I want to bring my experiences from a big ambitious community renewal project called Tamaki Transformation, where a vision was cast with this statement: “What if we could leverage the assets of the Crown to create a better future for this community.” We set out to engage a whole of community so that everyone had something to give and people could aspire more than what they could in their current reality. The most effective development is truly long term, so while there are lessons to learn there are many more opportunities for us to take.
Finally Mr Speaker When for 20 points: When will we know that we are making a difference?
When people are inspired by the things we say and do.
Mr Speaker, at the tender age of 45 I now know more than ever before the gift I have and what it brings into this House of representatives.
And it is simply this, the gift of inspiration.
I have learnt that Inspiration is birthed when the process is equal to the outcome, the greater the process the greater the outcome. Where if we want to change a culture then we must learn to ask a powerful question. “How do we stop our babies from being killed in this country?”
I have seen that inspiration gains substance when we are not afraid to hold the space for robust and even difficult conversation. I Iearnt this lesson from Dame Whina Cooper when she challenged her leaders by saying “don’t get hoha, stamp fist, and leave the room, because when you’re gone they make the decisions for you. Stay in the room.”
I witnessed inspiration come alive when people have owned the outcome and simply said “look what we have done”.
I have felt the power of inspiration when people are restored in their brokenness, and find the pathway to their dreams. This quote from a fathering workshop, “we’ve all got a hard luck story of how we were fathered, but it’s our time to rewrite the script.”
I was approached by a leader in our community recently who said “do you know that by you standing you’ve made our dreams that much more possible”. When we stand Mr Speaker we give people permission and confidence to give it a go.
We have been chosen, whether by electoral or party vote, to be leaders in this nation to inspire our people in the hope of change and the reality of a dream.
Mr Speaker I am proud to be a Kiwi of Cook Island descent.
I am proud to be a member of this Parliament serving under the leadership of the National Party.
I came here to make a difference and I intend to do so.
And I finish with this pe’e:
Ko ai ia Te Atua
I te Rangi e
Mouria to tangata
Ki to rima
Who is this God that we seek wisdom and guidance
hold your people, hold them in your hands.
It’s even better listening to him than reading it, and the spoken version includes a few lines which aren’t in the written one.