Maiden Speech - Nandor Tanczos

Published: Fri 11 Feb 2000 01:56 PM
Maiden Speech - Nandor Tanczos
I give greetings to the earth that sustains all life and to the sea that surrounds us I greet this house, that has watched over so many important decisions I greet the spirits that guide and protect I and I greet the guardians of this area - Te Whanganui a Tara I give particular mention to the tangata whenua, nga hau e wha. I give greetings to all of our ancestors - on whose shoulders we all stand
I greet you Mr Speaker, I greet the members of this house, I greet the members of the public here today, I greet the media and I greet those people around the country listening to these proceedings.
I greet my friends and supporters in particular Mike Finlayson and Chris Fowlie who have worked with me for many years on various issues. I greet my partner Linda Robinson and acknowedge the support she has given me in this journey, and I greet my parents who have travelled across the world to be here today. My mother Joan, who taught me to care for people and my father Peter who taught me to stand up for what is right.
We live in an exciting time. As human beings we face the greatest challenge yet in the history of our species.
We leave behind a century dominated by ecological devastation, mass extinction of species on a scale we have never witnessed before, the poisoning of the air we breathe, the watertables we drink from and the food we eat for the profit of a few, until the life support systems of planet earth itself are under threat.
This has been accompanied by social destruction. Our communities, extended families, and now even that invention of modern capitalism the nuclear family have all been fragmented. The ideology that we are all just individuals forgets that what keeps us all living and prosperous is the relationships between people and between people and the wider environment . This philosophy of short term self interest has been accompanied by the inevitable rampant crime, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, rising suicide and hopelessness.
These problems often seem unsolvable.
There are no answers coming from traditional sources of authority. Governments and business leaders, perhaps overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, have been in denial. For them it has been business as usual - taking their cues from their Roman predessessors.
Many have sunk into despair. What is often called apathy among young people might better be described as a genuine and well founded belief that it is all too late, that nothing can be done, and that even if they wanted to the political system is rigged against them by powerful vested interests.
There are people who have not given up hope. People, organisations and communities struggling to make a difference to our accelerating decline. Operating in a hostile environment, often in isolation and though headed in more or less the same direction have largely been without a clearly articulated common goal.
At the beginning of the new century it is time for that vision to be made clear.
EcoNation Aotearoa is an idea that has come out of Northland and has been taken up by people from all walks of life the length and breadth of the country. It is a simple, practical and viable concept. It can be shared by anyone who cares about this land and its people. EcoNation Aotearoa. Its meaning is self evident, if you think about it.
EcoNation Aotearoa says, where do we want to be in fifty or a hundred years time? What kind of country do we want our grand children and great grand children to inherit? Do we want to leave them with the country we have now, denuded of its forests and losing topsoil at a catastrophic rate? Or covered with clones from a few individual exotic pine trees while our unique diverse and beautiful native forest continues to be decimated by yet more introduced foreign species? A land still using pesticides banned in other countries while our cancer rates lead the world in a number of areas? A land that calls itself clean and green while exhibiting some of the most regressive ecological practises and attitudes in the western world?
We should be the spearhead of an global ecological evolution. Our country should be leading the way, showing the world how to live in balance with each other and with our environment. Instead we have to hang our heads in shame when people mention Kyoto and the summit on climate change, or the threatened extinction of our national icon the manu Kiwi.
EcoNation Aotearoa is about restoring balance in all our relationships. Between people and the earth that sustains us, and between people and people. I will be talking about some of the ways we can begin to restore those balances, in our justice system and also in our economy. But first I would like to talk about the relationship between Maori and Pakeha in this country, a relationship defined by our founding document te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Many Pakeha people are scared of te Tiriti. There is much misunderstanding. For me as a Pakeha in this country I honour te Tiriti, because it is the only legitimate authority I have to be here. There are Pakeha people who have been here for many generations, who are connected to this land. Even more should they support it. It gives Pakeha a sure base on which to stand in this country.
I honour the treaty because it is just and I congratulate previous governments for attempting to address grievances arising as a result of breaches of the treaty through the Waitangi Tribunal, flawed though that tribunal may be.
Finally I honour te Tiriti because it is right. It is a solemn covenant between two sovereign people, the United Tribes of Aotearoa and the British Crown that establishes the relationship between them. And while previous governments have been prepared to discuss historical grievances the real issue at stake is a more fundamental one. The issue that governments have been unwilling to address is the question of sovereignty.
Under international law 'contra preferendum' says that where translations of a treaty do not agree then the indigenous language version has preference. Te Tiriti o Waitangi clearly states that the Maori tribes retain their 'Tino Rangatiratanga' - which has been defined as sovereignty. What this means in practise is yet to be clearly defined. I'm not saying that Maori should have one island and Pakeha the other. Today it would probably be impossible in most cases to have some kind of modern 'rohe potae' as the King Country was in the 1800's. But until government begins to seriously discuss how tino rangatiratanga could be exersised we will never truly move forward. When the bath is overflowing there is not point mopping the floor until the tap is turned off.
As an example some years ago Moana Jackson wrote a report on Maori and the criminal justice system. His recommendation that we should move towards a Maori justice system were scoffed at by Ministers at the time. "We cannot have one law for Maori and one for Pakeha" they said.
The reality is that we have always had one law for Maori and one for Pakeha. That split has often coincided with the one law for the rich and one for the poor that was so amply demonstrated a few weeks ago.
But more importantly Pakeha miss the boat in my opinion if we do not support the idea of marae based justice systems. Because we should be saying yes to marae based justice, and whats more we want some community centred justice for ourselves. An EcoNation would welcome the use of more restorative justice processes, because the current criminal justice system is a failure whether you are Maori or Pakeha.
You see justice is a very simple concept. Everyone recognises justice when it is done. Victims, or complainants, know when justice is done. The community knows when justice is done. And usually the offender will know when justice is done too. But no one sees justice in our present system.
Crime is about more than the Crown versus an offender. It is about the fact that someone has been hurt. We need a system that puts victims / complainants, at the centre of the process. A system whose first priority is to heal the harm caused by a crime and to restore balance to that person. Restorative justice is victim centred.
And despite all the talk of the referendum calling for longer sentances, I know that when I ticked the box on election day I wasn't calling for longer lags for crims, but I was giving support for the rights of victims in the criminal justice system. How many of those other 92% of people were doing the same?
We need a system that includes the community as well, because when a crime is committed we all suffer, though increased fear and insecurity.
But it goes further than that. Maori justice recognised full well that the greatest punishment is whakama - shame. To go to court before a judge you don't know in an empty court room is one thing. To have your shame exposed before family , friends and neighbours is another.
And maybe the community must take some responsibility for crime too. This does not excuse offenders, but we must understand the wider picture. Is the high rate of youth offending in our country connected to the fact that our young people have no place in our society? If our social activities were less centred on alcohol consumption and licensed venues where our young people are forbidden to go would we have less crime? If young people had a genuine voice in our society would they respond in a more positive way? If the yout'dem were not used as a scapegoat for all the social ills brought about by the conduct of the previous generations would they behave in a more respectful way? What about unemployment and poverty - the callous and shameful waste of our young people and their potential. What part does that play in crime?
Lastly we need a justice system that focusses on having offenders take responsibility for what they have done and doing something to put it right. Because going to prison is an easy option for many people. In fact it can be just a way to get more cred.
Prisons have been described as a university for criminals. Young people go in for unpaid fines, often for victimless crimes such as cannabis, and come out with a degee in burglary. What are we trying to teach our children? In Northland there is a proposal to build a new prison. Where is the money for a new polytech or youth centre?
I am not saying to tear down all the prisons we have now - although Mt Eden would be a good start. We will still want to lock up very dangerous people for the protection of society. But the vast majority of people in prison now should not be there - wasting their time and our money. Better to have them doing something to restore the harm caused by their crime in the first place.
I am committed to working with the new government to ensure that proper and adequate funding and evaluation of restorative justice programs can begin.
And recognising that people who committed a minor offense when young should not have to carry that for the rest of their lives I will seek to introduce legislation into this house to allow crimal convictions to be wiped where they were committed a number of years ago and there has been no subsequent reoffending.
While I am on the subject of minor offenses there is one in particular I would like to draw your attention to. I am sure this is not a surprise.
I remember seeing an interview with Bob Marley and he was asked why cannabis was such a big issue for him. He replied that cannabis was not a big thing for him - it was 'jus a plant y'know. It's a big thing for you." I know what he is talking about. This Waitangi Day I was part of a celebration called OneLove. We had 15000 people come to celebrate Waitangi Day and Bob Marley's birthday in a spirit of unity and love. We had who knows how many ethnic groups, all ages and classes of people. We also had 4 gangs. There was no trouble, no arrests, no fights. And the only question TV3 wanted to ask was "do you plan to smoke a joint?"
New Zealand needs to get over its obsession with cannabis. We have the highest recorded arrest rate for cannabis in the world. Our police spend tens of millions of dollars arresting people for it - 85% of those are minor personal offenses. Yet we have one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. At the same time we hear that police do not have the resources to properly investigate burglaries. Any rational person has to agree that this has to stop.
Lets allow people to grow and possess cannabis for personal use, whether they use it medicinally, recreationally or as part of their faith. This does not mean legalise it. Let us then used some of the money saved to fund drug education that is realistic, honest and based on the evidence and that promotes the drug free lifestyle as the healthiest.
But the causes of the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, lies elsewhere still, in boredom, alienation and hopelessness.
An EcoNation is a prosperous nation and one where communities are strong, inclusive and resilient. We already market ourselves overseas as clean and green but we are in danger of losing that branding through poor environmental practises. The future prosperity of Aotearoa lies in leading the world in organic farming, as Ian Ewan-Street talked about yesterday, coupled with Pesticide Reduction legislation as outlined by Sue Kedgley.
Industrial Hemp is a crop with huge potential, giving four times as much pulp for paper per hectare as pine tree without requiring the kind of toxic processing such as is pumping out from the Kawerau pulp mill and killing the Tarawera river. It can be used for clothing, I am told, as well as providing highly nutritious edible oils, animal feed, housing materials, plastics and fuel. Farmers are crying out to be allowed to grow, yet still they are barred from taking up this opportunity because of outdated and ill concieved legislation.
An EcoNation becomes prosperous by focussing on the backbone of the economy - small businesses and family farmers. These are the biggest employers in the country yet they struggle under hostile conditions with minimal support or encouragement while big business has ram raided the economy and previous governments have helped divide the spoils. We need an ethos of 'buy local' among our people and in our government departments as well and this is what the Greens have been campaigning on for time now. This is part of the solution to restoring our economic balance in an EcoNation.
To sum up I want to repeat the message that New Zealand could and should be the spearhead of a new global evolution, where people and land return to balance. We must begin by addressing the question of sovereignty - for Maori people and also for Pakeha people because everyone's sovereignty is under threat in the world today and the right to make decisions for themselves is being taken away from communities and put into the hands of transnational corporations and agreements.
Building an EcoNation would include restoring balance to our justice system, by making justice visible to victims, the community and to offenders.
And we must begin restoring balance in our relationship with the earth by stopping the building of landfills, which throw away the jobs and economic prosperity that results from the careful management of resources.
EcoNation Aotearoa is not wild or whacky, as I have been described by at least one member of this house. It is a simple, practical and viable vision, a common sense solution to our current situation. It is not easy, and it will not come from government alone. EcoNation Aotearoa is a partnership between people, communities, businesses and government for the well-being and prosperity of us all.
We do indeed face our biggest challenge yet in the history of our species. I have faith that we have the wisdom and strength to meet it, but it not not yet decided. Take warning. It is said:
"Man disappears But the mana of the land remains."

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