Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lefty likes righty

It's fair to say that if I needed a label, it would lean to the left.

But I can find gold anywhere and everywhere and that is why I am really pleased to encourage people to read Tau Henare's blog. It covers a lot of the same ground that i like to talk and post about - and if we are entering the big one in terms of depressions then the opportunities to revitalise the culture have also expanded.

I won't repeat the whole blog but I will offer some highlights.

"With all the talk of recession and how to get out of it, I remember only too well the last one. The 80s downturn for us in Otara was like a bold-faced gate crasher who arrived early, wrecked the place and wouldn't leave.
Sixth form certificate wasn't enough to get me a job. Thirty years of service on the railways wasn't enough to protect my father from redundancy.Yet as bad as things may have appeared to others, it was still one of the most upbeat times of my youth. I owe this to the rise of Maori culture. A culture largely forgotten by many of my father's generation as they settled into the gentle pace of urban life."

"The role of culture comes into its own during hard times. Essentially, it's because it distracts us from the hopelessness of our situation while compelling us to become more creative, inventive and imaginative. Together with visionary leadership, we have the very fundamental to freeing ourselves from recession.The combination of visionary leadership and culture can be seen in an earlier era. During the Great Depression, Sir Apirana Ngata understood that this was central to Maori economic recovery. He believed communities had to become self-reliant, socially cohesive and bound together by a peaceful culture with arts at its axis. Consequently, the renaissance was born resulting in a resurgence of marae building, carving, weaving, kapahaka and everything else in between."

"Maori faced similar problems in the 80s. And through the chaos of urbanisation, a 23 per cent unemployment rate and a youthful population, two guardians of an earlier era Sir James Henare and John Rangihau, emerged with a new twist to the old remedy.The revitalisation of Maori language was their focus forged from the old education system and remodelled to create a new philosophy, for out of early childhood centres, te kohanga reo was formed; out of schools, te kura kaupapa; out of universities, wananga; and from there came a record number of Maori tertiary graduates."

"To build on that requires world views to merge. For instance in relation to recent policy statements, where some see just a cycleway, I see an opportunity for cash poor, land rich Maori communities to enter the tourism industry by unlocking some of the most scenic and historically fascinating geography in the country.Where some see an army boot camp, I see shades of the old Maori Battalion whose noble mantra of service and sacrifice for one's country should be an inspiration to a troubled generation. Where some see the nine-day working fortnight as a day off, I see an opportunity for workers to learn Maori."

This is good stuff. I hope Ngai Tahu has the visionary leadership to take the lemons from this economic downturn and give us a recipe, a bowl and a bit of sugar so that we can make enough lemonade satisfy our people.

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