Nuk Korako’s maiden speech

National MP Nuk Korako delivered his maiden speech:

E te Mana Whakawa, tena koe

Tenei hoki te mihi atu ki a koe o Te Kaihautu o Te Waka o Aotearoa, e Te Pirimia, Rt Hon John Key, tena koe

Tena hoki koe te rakatira o Te Ropu Reipa – Hon David Parker, tena koe

Hurinoa Te Whare Miere nei, ka mihi ki ka mema katoa

Ko Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha, Te Rakiamo tenei e mihi atu ki te manawhenua o Te Waha o Te Ika, Te Atiawa tena koutou i haere mai i ka waka katoa e tau mai nei, ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Ko Tutehounuku Korako ahau

Ko Aoraki mauka e Tu mai ake kei uta

Maringimai te awa o Waitaki raua ko Waimakariri ki Te Tai o Mahaanui

Ko Te Whare Mahaanui hoki raua ko Te Whare o Wheke kei Te Rapaki o Te Raki Whakaputa e tu ana

Hei ano

Tena tatou katoa

Mr Speaker: Like all others who have entered this house over the past 150 years I cannot hide or disguise my humility.  It certainly is a time to reflect upon family, my life experiences to date and those who assisted me on the journey to this House. Sir, 

I come from a working class background. My father Te Here Maaka Momo Korako was a World War Two Returned Serviceman and a Freezing Worker and my Mum, Hine Elizabeth Manihera Korako a gentle and loving person, who passed away when I was only 10 years old leaving behind nine children, me and eight sisters.

It was not long before we found ourselves in Cholmondeley Children’s Home, to give our father time to organise life without our mother. This sad event started a relationship with me and Cholmondeley Home that continues to this day. My father worked hard to keep us together and to ensure that we all understood and lived by our family values and instilled in me the significance of:

Ancestry

Leadership

Education and Humility

He taught us to be proud of being who we were and the importance of being able to move seamlessly between the two worlds of the Maori and non-Maori.

Education was paramount in our family and I was lucky to be given the opportunity to attend St Stephen’s School in Bombay, Auckland.

Sir: It is fair to say that I did not expect to be standing here as a Member of Parliament and addressing The House of Representatives all these years later

Like many young Kiwis, the call of the OE, took me overseas on a much extended journey than was originally planned, where rugby and the tourism industry kept me offshore for over 20 years.

The hallmark of that journey however was meeting and marrying my beautiful wife Christine and a few years later with a family pending and a desire to raise our children as Kiwis we came home to Canterbury – more specifically to Christchurch and Ngai Tahu’s Riviera, Rapaki on Lyttelton Harbour.

Rapaki is one of the ancestral communities of Ngai Tahu. When you arrive, it is a little like being transported to another time. Our four boys, now aged between 17 and 22 grew up in this kainga or village, surrounded by our immediate and wider whanau. 

Growing up in Rapaki, in a safe and nurturing environment, gave them the pportunity to learn the tikaka of their home place and their marae and to enjoy and experience many adventures surrounded by mountains and sea. It is their safe haven and always will be.

It was not unusual for Chris to feed 10 children at lunch or dinner time or a family neighbour to do the same.  That very environment created lifelong values for our children, their cousins, and the friends they brought home.

Sir: My Uncle Ben Couch, a three term National Party MP, Minister of Police and Maori Affairs and a New Zealand and Maori All Black, was also raised in the same village.

In reflecting on my wider whakapapa I am reminded that some of my tupuna were familiar with the political environment.  Hoani Paratene, the first ever Southern Maori MP, was my great uncle.  My grandfather, Tutehounuku Korako, represented Ngai Tahu at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in London in 1897 and at the opening of the Australian Parliament in 1901. My other grandfather James Duncan Manihera was the 1926 Maori All Black. 

Sir: These role models have instilled within me the idea that there is value in striving for something more than the mundane, more than the trappings of comfort, and to achieve something beyond myself, which is what I am doing in this special place.

Mr Speaker, I do bring a vision with me, and that is about where we are heading as a nation. I recently came across a National Party Manifesto from the Maori MPs in the late 1940s.

Quote: “New Zealand as a whole is under a great debt, one that has not always been sufficiently recognised, to the Maori people for the role they have played in the economic development of this country.  What you have received by way of social security and benefits is your due.  You, as a people have contributed to the pool from which come these benefits.

That is why we appeal to you to assist in the task of increased production… …it is our aim to expand and develop the Maori Land Schemes inaugurated in 1929 by Sir Apirana Ngata.

We know to what extent the human element is consciously developed along with work on such lands.  That must be taken into consideration if we are to secure the maximum results from such a policy – the promotion of a healthy, intelligent people, disciplined in the habits of industry and business practice, equipped by the economic resources of their lands to enter with full confidence in to the wider industrial life of this country.” Unquote.

Mr Speaker: This illustrates how much has not changed in terms of vision but how much has changed in terms of achievement. The Maori economy and Maori participation in our national economy has advanced so dramatically in the past thirty years and I have been honoured to be a participant in moving that forward.

I have operated my own businesses, worked on Maori incorporation and trusts, like Mawhera, the Board of Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation and represented my Hapu at the iwi governance level on Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu

The Ngai Tahu Settlement brokered by the Bolger-led National Government was a milestone for South Island development and I look forward to continuing to make a contribution to Maori economical advancement whilst sitting in this House, because that is our only pathway to long term prosperity and the betterment of ourselves, and it is not just for Maori, it is for all New Zealanders.

Mr Speaker: It is important, though, to acknowledge that I may move easily amongst Maori Communities but I also share a common set of values with all New Zealanders.

My recent Banks Peninsula and Port Hills political campaigns have clearly shown that many other New Zealanders believe that I have something to contribute to all of society.

Mr Speaker: I am deeply grateful to our people of the Port Hills for their continued support. Especially our National Party members, campaign team, army of volunteers and Young Nats. I want to acknowledge, our Canterbury Westland Regional Chair, Roger Bridge and my Campaign Manager, Cathryn Lancaster.

As most of you here will know there is something remarkably rewarding about getting amongst the community and engaging with a constituency.  Sure, some will slam the door in your face and some might be genuinely offended by your politics, but that is who we are.  We are not homogenous.  We are diverse, we are passionate and we are opinionated.  Thank God.

Sir: It would be fair to say that I have never lived in a suburb that is built upon privilege.  In fact for much of my life, I have lived in my traditional kainga.  My neighbours have been successful and struggling business owners, labourers and academics, bureaucrats and tradesman, beneficiaries and retirees.  These are my people.  These are National’s people.

Mr Speaker: I have lived The National Party philosophies most of my life, despite my family background, where many of my family were typical Labour Party supporters, who lived the old adage that Labour looked after the worker. I have taken a fair bit of “stick” especially on the front line in Lyttelton as a scrutineer for National in the Port voting booths, but that was my decision, and I stood by it.

The myth that National is simply there to look after the wealthy has been seriously challenged in this past election.  Thousands upon thousands of voters abandoned their traditional roots to give their party vote to National because there was a greater accord with what they wanted in a government.  Voters responded to the Quality of Leadership and have been drawn to a Unified Party that really did care and still does passionately, about what matters to New Zealanders.

Sir: I am sure that working New Zealanders have new expectations of themselves.  New generations certainly understand that the state is not here to provide their every need.  They genuinely believe that government is a partnership – us and them, and we each have to tow our own weight.

Mr Speaker: Labour may purport to represent the working New Zealander but a bevy of career bureaucrats does not reflect the aspirations of the young Checkout Person at the Ferrymead Countdown, or the Lyttelton Wharfie, or the Process Worker in Bromley who all want to better their lives with jobs, fair pay, home ownership and the likes. Preaching Working Class from Ponsonby, really does fall upon deaf ears.

I reject the idea that National does not represent those Kiwis struggling for a better life for their families and their communities.

That is exactly what we do.  That is why I am here.

Mr Speaker: There are 3 immediate priorities for me for this term.

One is to build the Brown Blue.  Many Maori have lost sight of the huge gains made under successive National-led governments and one only has to reflect on the Ngai Tahu and Tainui settlements, and more recently the ground breaking Tuhoe Settlement to get a sense of what is possible.  Whanau Ora and the under-privileged focused Partnership Schools have arisen under National and the modern Iwi Leadership engagements have given effect to an unprecedented partnership approach.

In the last election even without a candidate contesting the Maori seats, National still secured 14 per cent of the party vote within Te Tai Tonga and over the next three years I want to assist in building that, and not only in Te Waipounamu but also across Te Ika a Maui.

Mr Speaker: I want to Champion the Brown – Blue cause.

Mr Speaker: The second priority is the Christchurch Rebuild.  We all admire the incredible Earthquake Recovery and Rebuild work carried out to date under Minister Brownlee and I want to assure him that, like my years as a feisty rugby playing number 8, I am keen to put my tow shoulders behind the pack and add my weight as required.  I know taking us through the next few years will require a continued team effort and I want to be a part of that team.

Mr Speaker:  My third priority is that I will deliver on what I promised to the Port Hills constituents during my campaign, by continuing to work hard within our Port Hills electorate alongside our community leaders in developing vibrant communities, with plenty of opportunities, supported by great leadership.

Sir: I want to acknowledge my extended and immediate Whanau and Friends, including those who have travelled here today to share this occasion.

E ka whanauka, e ka hoa, e te hunga kainga, i haramai ki te tautoko ahau, Ko tenei te mihi aroha ki a koutou.

It is also the time to acknowledge these wonderful people who have stood to support me in place of my Taua and Poua, and Mum and Dad.

My Aunty Mamae Warnes who is here today, and was once a Young Nat in Wellington over 70 years ago.

My Aunty Rima and Charlie Subritzky and Uncle Dudley and Melissa Couch from Rapaki.  My father-in-law Derek Willard in Australia and Alec Graham from Palmerston North.  And my oldest and dearest mentor, Lachie Griffin, the unofficial Mayor of Governors Bay.

And to the person who has been there for me ever since we met on the Grand Canal in Venice, 24 years ago, who bore me four sons and saved the Korako name from extinction.

Chris, “I am because – You Are.” To my Sons, Maximillian, Michael, Nicholas and James Oliver:  He mahi Kai Hoaka, he mahi Kai takata: “Anything worthwhile will always require a considerable effort”: This is how I got here, today.

Finally Mr Speaker: It is difficult to stand here being humble when there is so much to be proud of. I am in this Parliament, however as a list MP representing the National Party interests. I cannot be other than a Maori and Ngai Tahu but it is my duty to address the needs of all New Zealanders and to concern myself with the whole spectrum of citizenship. Today, Mr Speaker I pledge myself to that task.

Huri noa Te Whare Paremata. E mihi atu kia tatou katoa. Mauri ora.

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