On the eve of the general election, Te Runanganui has formally challenged all the political parties to uphold the Maori concept of turangawaewae.
That’s about guaranteeing adequate housing for all Kiwis, yes – but turangawaewae is about much more than just a roof over your head.
The statement reads:
We uphold the centrality of turangawaewae as the foundation for whanau life.
It is the space that gives us the best opportunity and environment from which to learn, grow and contribute. It is essential for the wellbeing of our tamariki, whanau and nga uri whakatipu (future generations).
Turangawaewae creates accountability for ensuring resilience and living sustainably in balance with the world and others.
At present our turangawaewae is under threat, whether it be from child poverty, homelessness, climate change or the ongoing marginalisation of our reo and mana Maori motuhake.
We encourage all political parties to review their policies and aspirations to ensure turangawaewae is upheld and enhanced in this land.
The resolution, was moved by the Rev Dr Hirini Kaa, who said the concept of turangawaewae “is incredibly important”.
But all too often, he said, election debates about housing had been limited to the cost of housing in Auckland, and “middle class people not being able to afford flash houses”.
“Whereas for Maori, the discussion is quite different.”
He said the challenge was to reframe the debate about housing into a broader, holistic discussion – and that involved “thinking as Maori” – and not being influenced by “best western liberal practice, necessarily.”
The idea of turangawaewae, Hirini said, “can encompass our reo, our ability to live as Maori, and the way we raise our children.
“In the 1960s, we were moved to the cities by government policy and told: ‘This is your new turangawaewae’.
“Leave the country behind. Leave your ancestral homeland. Leave your language. We had to do what the Crown pushed us into.”
But the new turangawaewae was a deception, hollowed out by child poverty, homelessness, climate change and the marginalisation of te reo and mana Maori motuhake.
“We don’t just want a house,” said Dr Kaa.
“We want a place we can live in as Maori, a place where we can nurture our children.”