ETW “aspirational, positive and life-giving”

Rotorua Daily Post, 29 Oct 2014

In a series of articles in the Rotorua Daily Post, Inspector Bruce Horne says the E Tū Whānau values are positive, aspirational and life-giving. 

Family violence ruins life hopes

There is a well known and much loved whakatauki (proverb) that says “Hutia te rito o te harakeke, kei whea te komako e ko? Ki mai kia hau; He aha te mea nui o te Ao? Maku e kia tu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

In English, “If the heart of harakeke (flax) is removed, where will the bellbird sing? What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.”

In Māoridom harakeke is often used as a metaphor for the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of whānau, whakapapa and whakawhanaugatanga.

Those three words touch on the importance of being connected, joined up and being in healthy relationships; all of which are essential components of a Māori world view.

When you place those values alongside what is happening in far too many families in our community, you quickly realise that something has gone very wrong. It’s called family violence. Family violence drives a dagger into the heart of what is most precious to Māori.

I know that is very confronting, but it is true. It also raises a number of questions. I suggest the most important one is, how do we fix this?

Last year a number of Government leaders consulted with iwi in an effort to find answers to that very question. The fruit of all those hui was a strategy called E Tū Whānau — Programme of Action for addressing Family Violence: 2013 — 2018.

The six areas of focus for the strategy are:

  • Aroha — expression of love / feeling loved
  • Whanaungatanga — being connected to whānau
  • Whakapapa— knowing who you are
  • Mana / Manaaki — upholding people’s dignity and giving of yourself to others
  • Kōrero awhi — open communication, being supportive
  • Tikanga— doing things the right way, according to Māori values.

All of these things are aspirational and positive and life-giving.

Everyone wants to be loved, to know their place in the world and have a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, for many in our community the ugliness of family violence is preventing those aspirations from being a reality. Worse still, some have lost hope of ever having a life that is free of the torment and anguish of family violence.

That has to change, and there are a bunch of us in this community who want to see that change happen. Next week we are going to look at how to remove two of the barriers to change — fear and a loss of hope.

Inspector Bruce Horne is Rotorua Police Area Commander.

Read the Programme of Action here.