Hui Taumata 2016

Māori PSA members from across the country came together for kai, korero and ranga wairua.

Conference season is upon us, with Congress, SWAN, local government library delegates, the Women’s Network and Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina (TRONTA) all holding hui within a span of three months. This year’s TRONTA Hui Taumata ran from 24 to 26 August, and saw more than 80 Māori delegates and PSA staff come together at Orongomai Marae in Upper Hutt.

Hui Taumata 2016Orongomai Marae was founded as an inclusive space that welcomes all Māori ‘from the four winds’ of Aotearoa, and is supported by the iwi of Te Āti Awa. Orongomai means ‘the place of Rongomai’, who was an ancestor and patron of the iwi whose tīpuna arrived in the Kurahaupō waka.

Stand Together for Māori

The theme of this year’s Hui Taumata was ‘Stand Together’, tying the hui in with the PSA’s campaign for quality public and community services. Campaign organiser Conor Twyford spoke to the attendees on the second day of the hui.

Ka Tu Tahi Tātou (Stand Together’s te reo name) calls for all political parties to value the work that our members do, properly fund our public and community services and commit to no further privatisation.

Hui attendees were encouraged to participate in the campaign. Our Māori members are the core of the organising and campaign work that we do and will be vital to the success of the campaign.

Keynote speakers

Our keynote speaker on the first day was New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd. His time in office has been marked by controversy over his advocacy for Māori representation. Describing himself as ‘a recovering racist’, Judd spoke passionately on his personal journey as well as the difficulties he’s faced in pushing for Māori seats on the New Plymouth District Council.

An old logo meets the new in these home-made t-shirts

An old logo meets the new in these home-made t-shirts

“We need to ask ourselves as Pākehā, why we react so strongly to the idea of Māori being properly represented, and why we’re happy to continue denying Māori an equal voice” he said in his address.

Judd received enthusiastic applause as well as a spontaneous haka at the end of his speech.

Dr Lance O’Sullivan addressed the hui on Friday. New Zealander of the Year in 2014 for his health work in rural communities, O’Sullivan was warmly welcomed by hui attendees as a Māori with a lot of mana and knowledge to share.

For O’Sullivan, an important part of his work is what he calls “servant leadership”, being born with an inherent desire to serve others, followed by a considered decision to lead. He believes that Māori “have this trait in bucket-loads”, and wants to develop other young leaders.

O’Sullivan shared his work on vMoko, an app that allows trained non-clinical volunteers to identify and record a range of simple medical issues in children and send them on to a GP. Parents can access and add to this information, allowing those closest to the child to add often missing vital information and perspectives.

“Anger and courage,” O’Sullivan said of what drives him in his work. “Anger at how things are, and the courage to change them.”

The sector marketplace was a huge success

The sector marketplace was a huge success

Sector stalls

Five market-stall styled desks were set up on Friday, to present Māori work and successes in each of our five sectors. Attendees from each sector stood up and told hui attendees about their achievements and challenges in a wide variety of workplaces, from local government to home-support workers.

Some stark differences were highlighted about how different kinds of work are resourced, showing that there are still obstacles to overcome in recognising the importance of some types of work, particularly in the Community Public Services sector.

Some challenges across many worksites were recognised, such as the ongoing struggle to achieve Māori participation at higher management levels, and promoting Te Reo and Tikanga Māori in the workplace.

Hui politics

It wouldn’t be a union hui without a strong political element. On Thursday afternoon, three of the four candidates for PSA president arrived to introduce themselves to attendees and field questions from the floor. Andy Colwell was unable to attend due to illness.

Benedict Ferguson, Janet Quigley, and Peter Robertshaw each answered questions ranging from the possibility of a Māori co-president, to the treaty obligations of the union. A number of hui attendees will also be at Congress in September, giving them a vote on who will be elected as our union’s new leader.

That evening the marae hosted a Māori MPs backbenchers’ session, featuring Marama Davidson from the Green Party, Labour’s Kelvin Davis, and the Māori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell.

Strong themes that came out of that evening included the future of work for Māori in New Zealand, and the need to future-proof through sustainable practices, better education, and investing in more tech jobs.

Mike drop

Outgoing PSA president Mike Tana was given a fond farewell on Friday afternoon, and was presented with a gift from the hui organisers. Mike spoke of his time with the PSA, the achievements that Māori delegates have made within the organisation, and his current bid to be elected mayor of Porirua.

Te Komiti for Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina worked hard to make this year’s Hui Taumata a success, and attendees left with new connections and inspiration for the work ahead of them, to keep improving the working lives of our Māori members.  

By Dan Phillips