This week I attended Parliament to listen to the maiden (strange that this term still exists) speech of Kahurangi Carter, the newly elected Christchurch based Green MP. Listen to Kahurangi’s speech here
It was sad to note the large number of empty seats of returning MP’s who hadn’t bothered to attend this important event for new MP’s and their whanau. How come they all turn out for Question Time? Why did they insult the new MP’s by not attending?
We were present to hear the maiden speech of Tamata Paul. It was interesting to observe the response of the few Labour MP’s who were in the House to Paul’s comment that there was little difference between National and Labour. She said (and I agree with her) that they both remain committed to neo-liberal economics. Some Labour MP’s shook their heads. While they keep their cloth ears in place they deserve to stay in opposition. It’s listening time Labour. Not time for defensive excuses. The Party and your constituency is hanging out for leadership.
The upstairs in Parliament was filled to the brim with mostly Māori, young and old. There was a sense of pride and excitement in the air. Speaker Gerry Brownlee tried desperately to maintain order, to no avail. People clapped and cheered and sang waiata and performed haka. They were there to awhi their newly elected whanau their way. Despite Parliament’s rules. Gerry eventually gave up.
I was especially impressed with Kahu’s korero. She started in English and greeted Gerry Brownlee. She congratulated his elevation to the role of speaker of the House and said she looked forward to working with him. She then sang a Māori chant with her fabulous voice ringing around the Chamber. She then spoke in te Reo and then into English. Here was a young wahine confident in both worlds. It was an impressive performance. Another Kohanga Reo graduate.
The key theme for me from watching and analysing her korero was here was a contemporary bridge builder. Somebody who walks alongside people with a non-threatening style. She has the potential to live the words James Shaw spoke as he announced his resignation:
We’ve actually got to engage with the world as it is … That means building consensus with people who fundamentally disagree with you.”
I liked in an Instagram post she pointed out that the dress for her special day had been purchased at an op-shop for $6.