Statistics and Central Government rhetoric inform us that the Maori population is increasing, the age of that population is getting younger and we are living longer … all good news for those who feel Maori.

However there’s a reverse side of the coin … we are still counted too high among the prison population, we have lower social status with regard to housing and education, and domestic violence and abuse are still prevalent amongst the Maori population.

Truly the scenario for future unrest unless …?

That must be the question for the future. So using my crystal ball well past it’s “used by” date let’s take a glimpse into the future.

Maori, once a proud, dignified and aristocratic people, capable of ocean voyages in dug- out canoes, fighting colonization in its many forms, adapting to environmental conditions far removed from the warmer climes of Hawaii, have collapsed into a heap of unwanted refuse, supporting the colonial viewpoint that Maori were savages anyway. How much time does it take before a prized thoroughbred becomes a mongrel or food for the table?

The future demands changes, huge changes, sweeping changes, changes so diametrically opposed to the rules of engagement of today that neither the will nor desire exists with either local or central government to consider them. However, the good news for Maori is that the change will be in our hands and not the hands of others.

In the environment of today we are aware of successful Treaty settlements, the language renaissance, Maori reconnecting with their culture. The view through the crystal ball into the future begins to clear and look more promising.

Maori will move from the blame and grief mode into the empowerment or Tinorangatiratanga mode. They will have every opportunity to once more reestablish their mantle of mana and aristocracy. They will be able to heal emotionally, spiritually and physically. Maori have long protested that they are the best architects for their future and best psychiatrist for their emotional and spiritual illness. The future will bring this opportunity right to their doorstep.

Maori in Hawke’s Bay over the next 5–10 years will experience unthought-of optimism, hope and opportunity. Tinorangatiratanga demands individual and collective responsibility. Resourced with the proceeds of Treaty settlements, fisheries quota, empowered leadership and rangatahi seeking higher levels of education, Maori can be confident that change is possible. Add to this wonderful mix the number of Maori MP’s in Parliament and Maori councillors in local government, and the tools to legislate change also looks good.

Our national history must give confidence to the future in terms of how these developments for Maori will affect the rest of New Zealand’s population. Simply put New Zealand will continue to prosper, and develop reassured in its identity and purpose. Just as the haka has the wonderful ability to galvanize the majority of our population at the start of any competition, so too will success for Maori bring this same feeling of togetherness.

Hawke’s Bay has been the centre of horticulture and agriculture excellence. That has changed. The twin towers of Whakatu and Tomoana Freezing works have fallen. Orchards are being replaced by farting cows and grapes, or dare I say it, a regional sports park.

As Hawke’s Bay struggles to redefine itself and access the many wonderful opportunities, Maori will step forward and upward. Business opportunities abound: Maori tourism; provision of health services; education through Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa and Whare Wananga; mussel and crayfish farming; land management and property development; and small business development.

The landscape will change whether or not local and central government supports it or not.

The arrival of this economic windfall will also bring benefits to the wider community. Partnerships will be important for future mutual prosperity. Partnerships will bring a sense of wellbeing and healthy development. Leadership will be shared at all levels. Communities will take ownership and the focus that has been placed on Maori non- performance will no longer be required. I am not at all indicating that social problems will no longer exist; I am saying that Maori representation among these problems will drop significantly. The two partners of the Treaty will work harmoniously for the betterment of our nation, as it was envisioned from 1840.

So the trends for Maori will all be up. Improvement in health, education, housing, businesses, tourism, exports and imports. Partnerships must be developed now. The visits to WINZ by Maori will fall. The visit to Police Stations for violence and abuse will fall. Maori youth will respond to the Maori leadership at many levels.

The next decade will be exciting and challenging for all the right reasons.

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