The rains lashed and the winds were icy but nothing could dampen the aroha, manaaki and whanaungatanga that flowed freely at Hirangi marae on 14 August 2014. The occasion was the official launch of the E Tū Whānau Charter of Commitment. Tūwharetoa hosted the event and they pulled out all the stops to make the night both fabulous and unforgettable.
A pōwhiri welcomed guests and set the scene for the evening – a time to celebrate and also a time to focus on what is needed to ensure positive futures for generations to come. The hospitality from Tūwharetoa was exceptional – the whole occasion was run with huge amounts of generosity and flair.
Formal proceedings were conducted by Te Ngaehe Wanikau, who spoke on behalf of Tūwharetoa host, Te Ariki o Ngati Tūwharetoa, Ariki Sir Tumu te Heuheu.
MC for the night, local radio Tūwharetoa FM DJ, Karam Fletcher, kept the night lively and fun – he also ensured that the launch remained strongly focused on the E Tū Whānau kaupapa and the importance of this new Charter of Commitment.
Commitment to positive change
Darrin Haimona, Chair of the Māori Reference Group, introduced the Charter to the guests who numbered around 200, explaining the background and significance of this document.
“We believe that this Charter is the first time an indigenous people has come together in such a way to publicly and formally declare their opposition to violence and to voice their commitment to positive change.”
Darrin explained that the strength of E Tū Whānau is that it is Māori designed and led.
“We know that the solutions that work best for Māori are those that are grounded in things Māori – E Tū Whānau and this Charter of Commitment recognise that our own unique cultural and spiritual strengths will provide the foundation for change.”
“Our Charter also acknowledges that violence for our people is not traditional – in earlier days, wahine and tamariki were admired and cherished by our tane and these loving, harmonious relationships were the envy of settlers and missionary women at the time. We must restore this harmony to our whānau.”
Each guest was presented with a copy of the Charter and Darrin encouraged everyone to make a stand against violence by signing the document, on paper or online.
Throughout the night the crowd was treated to a feast of local entertainment. Outstanding Kapa Haka performances from Ngauru ki Uta kept the audience spellbound while the Outlaws dance troupe mesmerised with their clever combination of traditional skill and contemporary style – including lashings of Tūwharetoa humour.
Unfortunately the inclement weather meant that Hon Tariana Turia could not attend the launch. Her son, Pahia Turia (chairman of Te Rununga o Ngati Apa), and Māori party colleague, Te Ururoa Flavell spoke on Minister Turia’s behalf and accepted the tributes gifted by Tūwharetoa.
Pahia Turia endorsed E Tū Whānau as a Māori-led solution that has the support of iwi leaders throughout the country.
The evening concluded with an award ceremony. Recipients were recognised for their achievements as E Tū Whānau Kahukura – leaders of positive change in their communities. With hearts and minds warmed by the night’s inspiring kōrero, guests headed back out into the wintery evening.