A Tiriti relationship and PPTA

PPTA Canterbury executive member Bernie Lee’s moving speech for the Tiriti relationship and PPTA 2019 annual conference paper.

What is a treaty? It’s an agreement between two parties – often born out of dispute.

It’s a great pleasure for me to stand here and talk about the progress made on the long journey to biculturalism.  On the road to whakakotahi (harmony), being amicably in agreement with each other.  PPTA, Te Wehengarua has established more than a partnership; we have established and continue to grow a strong relationship with Māori members.

What better two people could we have chosen to highlight and showcase our relationship on the front cover of this report (inset) , but one of our very own past PPTA presidents, Kate Gainsford and of course our precious Whaea Gazala, both, captured here in astute awareness – possibly listening with intent to promote change.

It’s a picture that encapsulates a positive glimpse of biculturalism and a kaupapa driven relationship based on mutual respect.

Not to go unnoticed, these stalwarts, along with the achievements and huge efforts of many other activists; from right back to Ken Mair, who held the first Āpiha Māori position in 1987 to the more recent Bronwyn Cross, not only one of the writers of this report but the past deputy general secretary, and previous general secretary, Kevin Bunker with his solution-focused drive and his active ability to build consensus in members.

Embracing the balance of cultural awareness

How exciting it was to hear recently  that Aotearoa New Zealand’s history will be a compulsory component in our national curriculum in 2022. This resets the national framework -we will all be aware now of key aspects of our history and how those aspects have influenced and shaped the nation. The arrival of Māori to Aotearoa New Zealand, early colonial history and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Balancing and harmonizing our relationships so we can look at the beauty and intelligence of our treaty. It’s not an imposition, It’s not a duty – It’s simply embracing the balance of cultural awareness and it’s a strengthening of relationships. We know only too well bringing out the best in others enables us to find the best in ourselves.

A korowai that embraces us

Treaty paper cover

It’s hard to believe the first pōwhiri at PPTA’s annual conference was in 1984 – And now 35 years later, it would be most unusual and very disappointing if we are not immersed in a pōwhiri. It’s like a korowai that embraces us and brings us together.

Notwithstanding – if we can’t participate in a pōwhiri, mihi, poroporoaki, Whakataukī and waiata, how are we expected to make our Māori students feel valued and valuable in our schools?

Unions are about change, and PPTA is clearly no exception. There are always opportunities to polish our pounamu. And we have been walking the talk, making good headway through strong leadership. We have made some firm advances in Te Tiriti awareness, building capacity while at the same time strengthening relationships.

He aha te kai ō te rangatira?

He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero.

(What is the food of the leader? It is knowledge. It is talking. It is communication.)

Small but incremental steps

PPTA started out with small but welcome incremental steps towards whakakotahi. There have been significant and important changes that have occurred along the way, acknowledging and recognising various kaupapa.

One of which was the PPTA region of Aorangi changing its name to Aoraki, because it was “the correct southern dialect.” Another, simply, the affirmation that Te Tiriti is a cornerstone for educational policies in New Zealand. Significant milestones include kaupapa such as effective and accountable involvement of Māori at governance and management level which continues to grow. Te Huarahi, Te Roopu, Te Reo ā Rohe, Mahi Tika, our Kaumātua, our Whaea, the Mataroa and our Āpiha, Dr Te Mākao Bowkett, under whose expert leadership we have Ngā Manu Kōrero and the annual Māori Teachers’ Conference.

These structures have been built to ensure Māori voice and influence continues today as integral to the functioning of PPTA, included also in the strategic plan. All of these initiatives and more have grown from small beginnings.

We can and will go further

I can liken this as a proud Cantabrian from Waitaha, Ōtautahi, to our braided rivers beginning as tiny trickles, combining and swelling and strengthening, progressing down the plains from the Southern Alps, the currents increasing in a mighty torrent, finally converging to the infinite ocean.

As a union we started our Tiriti journey hesitantly at first, gradually growing in confidence.

Our fluency and familiarity in Te Reo and Tikanga Māori has increased strengthening our national identity and cultural plurality. AND yes, we can go further – AND we will.

But for now – look how far we’ve come. We have created so much forward momentum, it’s inevitable – our willingness to embed Tiriti ideals in our relationships and teaching can only manifest in wondrous changes.

Strengthening mana-enhancing relationships

Let’s polish the pounamu and draw out wairua that will continue to strengthen those mana-enhancing relationships. Is this not the core of solidarity?

This report has won my admiration and touched a spot in my heart. Perhaps you may have felt the same sense of pride in our achievements which I feel are deserving of recognition.

He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata.

(Good will towards others is a precious treasure.)

Nō reira tēna koutou katoa.


Last modified on Friday, 29 November 2019 12:58