Parekura Horomia, MP and Maori Affairs spokesman and former Minister, has died.
In his maiden speech he said:
– I’ve been a fencer, shearer, scrub cutter and printer.
– I’ve also worked in the upper levels of bureaucracy in management roles.
As a Maori Member of Parliament I have a dual responsibility.
– I have a responsibility to my people and the wider public.
– Unfortunately, if we look at the statistics for the people I represent the picture is bleak. We feature disproportionately in negative statistics. . .
. . . – The future for Maori is about acknowledging who we are and determining where we want to go. . .
– Not every Maori will reap the same success as Michael Campbell but we should be encouraging them all to swing that high.
– We have to set an example for the younger generation and I accept that challenge as a new Maori Member of Parliament.
– Let me take you back a few years to the time when I was a schoolboy. I vividly recall walking to school barefoot with my seven brothers and sisters.
– Everyday, whatever the weather, we walked five kilometres to school and back.
– While this may not have been unusual for Maori children, there was a certain irony about this journey.
– Everyday we would watch the empty school bus drive past us and other whanau to collect the pakeha kids that lived a half a kilometre from our school. This bus would pick them up, turn around, drive back past us and take those kids to the school in Tologa Bay.
– As a child the bureaucrats who made those decisions mattered little. All I knew is that I had to walk and the bus was leaving me and the rest of my whanaunga behind.
– I used to dream of being picked up by that school bus. But as I grew older we became more resilient. We went from wishing it would stop to pick us up …to thinking that if it did stop we wouldn’t hop on anyway.
– I relate that story now because Maori are often told we’ve missed the bus. And many cases Maori have not even had the opportunity to get on the bus.
– The irony in all of this is that I’m now the Associate Minister of Education, responsible for school transport!
– So now I’m not only riding the bus, I’m helping to drive the bus with my colleagues, Mr Samuels, Mr Mallard and Mr Maharey.
– As one of the drivers you can be damn sure I’m going to stop the bus and pick up as many Maori as possible. . .
He held the seat of Ikaroa-Rawhiti since first winning it in 1999. His death will force a by-election.