Dr Shane Reti’s maiden speech

November 1, 2014

National’s Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti delivered his maiden speech this week:

Ka tangi te titi, ka tangi te kaka, ka tangi hoki ahau, tihei mauriora

Te whare e tu nei

Te marae e takoto nei, tena korua

To tatou mate. Haere e nga mate. Haere ki te kainga tuturu o to tatou matua I te rangi.

Haere, haere, haere.

Ko te kaupapa mo tenei ra, tena koe.

Ko te wairua o tenei whare, tena koe.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora mai tatou katoa.

Mr Speaker, may I first acknowledge you with greetings from the North, and from my electorate team led by Murray Broadbelt, and mentors Shirley Faber, Stephanie MacMillan, and my campaign and executive teams. We congratulate you in your role as Speaker.

To my esteemed colleagues, I greet you with the proverb “He waka eke noa”. Together we are in this one canoe, without exception.

To gathered guests and family, I acknowledge and thank you for the service you do me today. That I may make you proud, that we may make you proud. Nga mihi ki a koutou.

Mr Speaker, I stand today as a humble servant from humble beginnings.

The Whangarei electorate has never had a Maori MP. From Murray Smith, to John Elliot, to John Banks, to Phil Heatley, the baton has been passed and now rests in my care and protection.

To this end, and on behalf of the electorate, I would like to thank Hon Phil Heatley for many years of dedication not just to this electorate, but to other ministerial portfolios also.

Mr Speaker, it has been commented to me that from the North to this House, one Shane leaves and another Shane arrives.

This is of course reference to Shane Jones, my whanaunga and fine member of New Zealand First … ah … Labour.

We do have some similarities.

It is true, that Shane was a New Zealand Harkness fellow to Harvard just as I was several years later. I believe his academic appointment was to Kennedy School of Government, and mine was to Harvard Medical School. I will talk more on this later.

I speak today Mr Speaker as the last of the newbies in this National Government. The beginner, the learner, the minnow.

And here in this moment, right now, I claim no honorifics, no title, just Shane, a Maori boy from Northland, and Mr Speaker, when my time and season concludes, from the dust I come and to the dust I will return.

My background is simple.

I was born into a state house, the eldest of five children in a working class Maori family.

My parents believed that further education and hard work was the way to success.

And yet, what further education meant wasn’t exactly clear to them, because they had never experienced it themselves.

Mum left in the fifth form and went to work as a clerk at State Advances. Her people landed in Horeke in the Hokianga in the early 1800s, and are now resting in the cemetery opposite Rawene hospital.

Dad left in the fourth form to return to the family farm in Kawhia. Dad is from a family of 14 brothers and sisters to the same mother and same father. Grandma Irina Whawhakia Paki, descendant of Puoaka Paki, Tainui, Ngati Maniapoto, and Granddad Tom Reti, son of Hemi and Tete Paoro, from Waikare in the Bay of Islands, Ngati Wai.

Times were tough for my grandparents.

Every time Grandma was in labour, she would hop on the horse (no saddle – bare back), and ride down the hill, across the beach, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly who was the midwife. A journey of significant time and distance, with all 14 children.

But if the tide was in, Mr Speaker, it was down the hill, swim the horse, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly.

As soon as he got in from the farm, Granddad Tom would follow, on the horse, down the hill, across the beach, and up the valley, and then, when he got close to Aunty Polly’s house, Aunty Polly would come out and say, “Tom, this is women’s work, go home.”

Mr Speaker, like many in the House today, my grandparents created endeavour through endurement, and success through sacrifice. This is also the story that I will tell.

It is actually not so much about me, Mr Speaker, I am but the instrument in this mortal existence, but it is a story that at its conclusion, talks to hard work, education, and the unbridled privilege of serving your fellow man.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, it is my belief that there are several sentinel events in a lifetime. Some have a few, some have many. Sentinel events are events that shape our lives, and but for a different path, a different outcome ensues.

Two diametric sentinel events happened in my teenage years and shaped my life. The first was institutional racism.

In my student years, I would usually study during the day, and at night, commercial clean with dad, vacuuming floors, cleaning toilets, and dusting blinds.

One year, I asked the administrator if I could sit, not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply, “No Shane, you’re a Maori boy, you’ll do five.”

My internal response was a call to arms “right, I will show you”, and my external response was to win the English prize that year.

No, not for me six subjects, I was still only allowed to sit five, but many years later, when I was promoted to Assistant Professor at Harvard, well, I think I’d made my point.

Mr Speaker I won, but many Maori don’t.

And Mr Speaker, the educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bounded by the preconceptions of others.

Their dreams too must be allowed to soar to the heavens,

on shards of resolve,

to the heights resounding,

“e tangi e, e tangi e, e tangi e”.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I was blessed with a second sentinel event in my teens.

In my sixth form year, Hamilton Rotary Club, district 993, broadcast across the Hamilton high schools that they will support one student to America the following year. Many apply, and yet for some reason, they chose me.

You have to imagine Mr Speaker, that in those times, working class Maori were not the normal Rotary mix. Yet, they chose me.

No one in my family had ever had a passport, few had been on a plane, and none had been overseas. And yet they chose me.

Mr Speaker, I went to Idaho in the intermountain west of America. My five host families were a retail manager, two multimillionaires, and two bankers. Can you imagine the contrast? From working class Maori, to a host father who flew me in his private plane on the weekends to his condo in Sun Valley.

These people were well educated, they worked hard, and success had come their way. There it was right there – education and hard work.  My parents had already planted the seed of belief and now I saw it in action, I was living it, I got it, and I went on to apply it.

Mr Speaker, this is a story of opportunities. Windows of opportunities that in a lifetime may open for just the briefest of moments, and then close again, sometimes for ever.

Our task Mr Speaker is to create opportunities for those that follow, that as we pass the baton to them, we have created a world better than how we found it. A footprint that the next tide will gently wash over, and shape to its new resolve.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I have had three careers.

My first career is as a doctor serving the people of Whangarei for 20 years.

During this time, in my clinical hands, I was truly privileged to care for many good people, and I thank them for enriching my life.

At the same time, I was appointed to Northland DHB for three consecutive terms, and I would like to acknowledge DHB chair Lynette Stewart, who is here today, and whose wisdom and counsel has always been sound.

National literary awards also followed for research published in the national and international scientific community.

I guess somewhere in there, I also found time to qualify to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, receive a QSM, and have three children under three.

To our children, Justin, Melissa, and Angela, thank you for permissioning me to undertake this body of work, and to Christine, whose warm embracing support of family also brings me to this point.

But Mr Speaker, what I most learnt from this, my first career, was to be a good listener. When you partner with people and guide them through the peaks and troughs of their life you get to be a good listener.

And you know Mr Speaker, there is a parallel with serving constituents, and it is this:

What people want Mr Speaker is:

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker my second career is in America where I worked for seven years until recently.

I was selected as New Zealand Harkness Fellow to Harvard. My academic appointment was to Harvard Medical School. My operational appointment was to Beth Israel Deaconess, Boston.

It is in the Harvard environment, Sir, that I cut my international credentials and developed foreign affairs and trade expertise.

In the scientific space of Harvard I found a fertile environment where any innovation, any new thinking that I wanted to dream, I could actually bring to life.

As an informatician, I worked with data, ciphers, and encryption, and became a Beacheads Middle East advisor, out of the Dubai consulate.

For sharing their knowledge so generously, I wish to give particular thanks to my operational team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. You took up the Kiwiness, took up the Maori, and in return opened up new personal experiences to me such as the Jewish Seder.

I carry the best of you all with me, and so with deep gratitude I acknowledge Harvard professors: Professor Tom DelBanco, Professor Warner Slack, Associate Professor Charles Safran, Associate Professor Tony Kaldany, and Assistant Professor Henry Feldman.

Mr Speaker, it was always my intention to bring the best of the Harvard environment home to New Zealand.

I was always on loan from my people, I was always coming home, and I bring these learnings with me into the science, technology, and R&D space, and I proudly attest: “It is cool to be a geek.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, my third career is here and now.

As the MP for Whangarei, I will advocate strongly for the needs of the electorate, and I thank and honour the mandate they have given me and a National Government.

Our needs are best met by economic development, which includes attention to transport, local government reform, and Treaty settlements.

Economic development which creates sustainable disposable income, also creates options, and these options, I believe, will improve the metrics by which we define a good life.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I feel responsibilities to my electorate in Whangarei, to my regional neighbours in Northland, and to every single citizen of this nation.

At a national level then, I embrace working with my colleagues here in the House, as we advance a New Zealand in prosperity, equity, and freedom.

Mr Speaker, I would like to extend one dimension of freedom to a discussion on data ownership, a conversation that is heard in the international community, and one that we may have here also.

In the complex balance between freedom of expression and privacy, who owns the data Mr Speaker?

What data? Well, as we seek to share medical records online through electronic tools such as personal health records, who owns the data? The patient, the doctor, the funder?

When a loved one, say a child, chronicles their life story on Facebook, and that child unexpectedly and tragically passes away, who owns that precious story? Without passwords the parents will struggle to reclaim the digital expression of that child. Who owns the data?

Mr Speaker, this discussion may be better framed not around ownership, but stewardship, and Mr Speaker, New Zealand is already strong in this domain. We are already stewards, of the land through DOC, stewards of our costal treasures through kaitiaki stewardship, and stewards of the next generation through love. It is but a small step to be stewards of our data also.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, ka mutu.

I have been blessed to be mentored and guided by many strong people in my life.

To those at governance tables, trade delegations, embassies and consulates, I watched, I learnt, and I am an amalgam of the best of what you all brought to the table and shared, and for these gifts I thank you.

To Yvonne, who guides and lights the way forward. I thank you.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to acknowledge my parents, Ray and Robyn, who are here today and thank them.

My parents, who, when faced with a child with endless energy, still decided to keep me alive.

And so Mr Speaker:

May your tenure sir be blessed.

May this House be great.

And may we be one people.

Thank you.

 


Letting down candidates from start

March 26, 2014

Labour is letting down its candidates from the start by getting media releases about their selection wrong.

Take this one announcing the candidates for Botany and Pakuranga for example.

The first four paragraphs talk about the process and only then does it get to the candidate, Tofik Mamedov, but still expends more words on the process than him.

It then talks about his nationality and that he’s been campaigning but it doesn’t give any of the biographical details you’d expect, would-be voters would want to know and which might have a chance of being published.

The omission is emphasised because the release carries on to talk about the selection of the party’s candidate for Pakuranga, Barry Kirker, about whom it does give some details.

That release was bad enough, but it compounded its mistake with an even worse one which listed the  two candidates covered in the first release with those for three other electorates – Papakura, Taranaki-King Country and Whangarei.

The party might have no hope of winning these seats but it should be able to give the candidates the dignity of a separate, and comprehensive, media release.


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