Māori are natural storytellers. On the marae we use stories to tell our history, to teach the next generation life lessons and to let people know, in our most creative of ways, who we are and where we have come from.
We have legends and myths about the creation of the world, that talk about Maui fishing up the North Island and creating fire for the first time.
Everyone has a story.
And right now, our party, our government is writing its own story.
A story that will last the ages.
A story that starts something like this.
In the beginning, before there was light – there were nine long years of darkness.
It wasn’t like a black darkness, more a dark shade of blue kinda darkness – the worst kind.
Anyway, without light, people in the blue darkness struggled.
Different groups tried, every three years, to bring light to the world. But alone, they weren’t strong enough against the dark blue nothingness.
Until 2017, when Whaea Jacinda, Winitana Peters and the Kakarikis joined forces, pushing apart the darkness to let light in. And over 50 percent of the world rejoiced in their achievements.
Together – some may describe it as a coalition with a side of a confidence and supply agreement – they set about to ensure that they used their time in the light to do good things for people.
They called their caucuses together in a large round building and asked a question: Now we have light – who will help make the world a better place? Who will help usher in the age of Wellbeing?
One man, fresh from the North came to the front of the crowd.
“I, Maui, will take up this tremendous challenge. I will catch a one billion dollar fish every year for three years and distribute it amongst the regions so people can prosper and economic development can flourish.
The leaders – Whaea Jacinda, Winitana Peters and the Kakarikis – huddled together to consider this man’s proposal.
Whaea Jacinda said “I’m sure that guy is Shane Jones, not Maui”
Winitana said “It’s definitely Jonesy”
The Kakarikis said “one fish a year sounds like sustainable fishing to us”
And Shane Jones, I mean Maui, was sent off to help the regions thrive with his PGF – his ‘pretty ginormous fish’ fund.
Another man from the North then stood up – he was more handsome than the first, if I do say so myself – and said:
I am Kelvin Davis – some people mistakenly call me Kevin Davies, but it really is Kelvin – Kevin but with an L and Davies without the E.
Winitana said “get to the point, Kevin”
The man continued “Now I can see in the light, I have found that too many people are languishing in the dungeons, terrible dungeons, across this fair land. I would like to safely reduce the number of incarcerated people by 30 percent over 15 years.
I can do this safely by taking a Maori approach, investing in rehabilitation and mental health services and treating people and not just their crimes.”
The three again turned to consider Kelvin’s proposal.
Whaea Jacinda said “I think I’ll make this guy my 2IC”
Winitana said “Let out the over-65s first”
And the Kakarikis said “demolish all the dungeons”
And with that Kelvin was sent on his way to correct a system that was broken by the terrible blue darkness. Then one of the Kakarikis – Hemi Shaw – stood and sang:
“Ma is white, Whero is red, Kakariki is Green”
“Usually you sing a waiata after your speech Hemi,” said Whaea Jacinda but kia ora to that.
“Are you guys feeling hot?” Said Hemi from the house of Kakarikis.
“Have you noticed that the climate around us has been warming up?”
The two nodded.
“How did those in the darkness sit around and do nothing about this warming of the globe for nine long years?”
The two shrugged their shoulders.
Hemi then announced “I will take action against one of this generation’s most pressing issues. I will change the climate. I will lead climate change.”
And off he went.
One by one people came forward committing themselves to making the world of light a better place for people to live.
After a couple of years, Whaea Jacinda, Winitana Peters and the Kararikis came together to see how much change they had brought to the world of light.
Whaea Jacinda said “Right, what have we done? How much progress have we made, team?”
The other two in unison said: “Heaps.
“The jewel of the Pacific – often mistaken on flights for Valerie Adams – Carmel Sepuloni, has made great progress.
“Boosted the incomes of 384,000 families by $75 a week through our Families Package, and made life easier for parents with newborn babies with an extra $60 a week.
“Her list is massive!”
Whaea Jacinda said “That’s great progress, but there is still more to do. What about teaching our kids?”
“Well, Whaea, Master Hipkins of Rimutaka, with his fiery hair has turned the Education castle upside down!
“Rolling out the free lunch in schools programme to all Year 1-8 children in 30 schools, extending to 21,000 children in 120 schools by the beginning of 2021.
“Helping the families of more than 416,000 students around NZ to be better off next year with the school donations scheme. He is also teaching our history in schools.
“Did we not do that before?” said Whaea Jacinda, “That’s crazy. Well, I passed the child poverty bill – but what else have we done? Give me a quick overview, ‘cause the story teller does not have long to go with his speaking slot.”
“Historic investments in mental health, extending doctors’ visits, tackling climate change, we have done more in housing, the economy, in transport, infrastructure, regional development, Maori development, in trade, in wellbeing, across the board – oh, Whaea Jacinda,” the two exclaimed “We have done a lot – which is more than heaps. But there is still more work to do! The nine years in darkness did more damage to our world than we could ever imagine.”
The three stood quietly shaking their heads in disappointment at the under-investment by the blue darkness for nine long years. Then a man, with so much money in his pockets he jingled as he jogged, approached the group.
Whaea Jacinda said “Hi Granty – I mean, Master of Coin – what’s got you all short-changed?”
The Master of Coin said “I have received news from afar– in about 365 days time two taniwha and their pack of baby taniwhas are going to descend on us all and try to bring back the blue darkness, once again, to the world.”
“Stink!” the group said in unison.
“Really stink,” said the Master of Coin. “The mama taniwha and the papa taniwha don’t appear to get along.”
“Unbelievable” they said in chorus.
“There are rumours,” Grant said, “that the baby taniwha are restless because of bad polling results and may devour the big taniwha before they get here… but still, what are we going to do?”
Whaea Jacinda said “Well, last time I said that we should do this, and we did, so we can do it again!” Winitana said “They sound like rather unpleasant-looking Taniwha.”
And the Kakarikis said “Taniwha are a plague against biodiversity – we must defeat the Taniwha”
The three knew they had made much progress in bringing wellbeing to the world of light, but they needed time to do more.
They have 365 days (give or take) to devise a plan to defeat the hideous taniwha heading their way…
A plan that will need volunteers, a plan that will show the world that it is better to live in the light than return to the dark.
What will they do? Who will help them? Will the baby taniwha topple the big taniwha in an act of desperation? So many questions that require many, many answers.
But, ladies and gentlemen, this, this is where the story stops for now. A cliffhanger, of sorts. Because the second chapter is still being written.
And all of you are part of the story line.
What happens next, the twists and turns, the fate of its characters will be up to you.
Our story must continue.
Members of our party, help us write the next chapter of our story. Pick a path that sees good triumph over taniwha.
We have all done it before.
Let’s spend time in this year’s conference planning, organising, coming together to ready ourselves for 2020.
We have made progress.
So let’s make sure that our story ends with many happy ever afters – but for now, while we prepare, this story is simply to be continued……..