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With the departure of much loved and respected Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia from parliament we thought it would be worth sharing a soul-stirring speech on abortion she gave to parliament in 2011.

Abortion Supervisory Committee Notice of Motion
Hon Tariana Turia; Co-leader of the Maori Party
Thursday 7 April 2011

I move that the motion be amended by omitting the words ‘Reverend Patricia Ann Allan of Christchurch’ and substituting the words ‘Dr Ate Moala of Wellington’.

I want to say from the onset that the issues associated with abortion are absolutely central to any understanding of whanau wellbeing, of whanau ora.

The protection and preservation of whakapapa is fundamental to the growth and health of our whanau. I think about the precious heartbeat of every child – and I think about a comment Ngati Whatua leader, Naida Glavish once made: ‘there is no such thing as an unwanted mokopuna’.

And I contrast that with statistics which tell me that in the last five years, close to 100,000 babies were aborted – more than twice the population of my home city of Whanganui.

The Maori Party was pleased to support Dr Tangimoana Habib when her appointment was first proposed. Tangimoana, of Tuwharetoa whakapapa, is a fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and currently works as a GP in practice at Te Kohao Health in Hamilton as well as running a satellite clinic in another high need area of Hamilton.

Tangimoana has been involved in Te ORA, the Maori Doctors’ Association, since 2000 and has been a member of Te Akoranga a Maui – the Maori General Practitioner faculty – since its inception in 2002. She is the continuing medical education provider for Te ORA and is also a GP registrar trainer.

But perhaps her greatest qualification is her lifelong proven commitment to improving Maori health status. She believes, as does the Maori Party, that effective work in this area means improved health status for all New Zealanders.

And so we are very pleased to support her appointment to this Board, particularly given the concern we have for maintaining the health and wellbeing of the mother, the child and the greater whanau at any time in which health issues occur.

When I was involved back home with Te Oranganui, we always insisted that any young woman seeking advice of a sexual and reproductive nature be supported with the wisdom of kuia whom we had arranged to work with us.

The thinking for us was that sexual and reproductive health is never just about biomedical or clinical matters. It is about mauri – the lifeforce; it is about wairuatanga – the spiritual dimensions; it is about ira tangata – the ongoing genealogical connections found in our whakapapa.

And so we welcomed the opportunity for Tangimoana to bring issues associated with Te Ao Maori to the debate.

We also supported Dame Professor Linda Holloway as Chair of the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

Dame Linda was previously Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences at Otago University; she has served on the Medicines Assessment Advisory Committee and was one of the advisers to Dame Silvia Cartwright during the inquiry into the treatment of cervical cancer at National Women’s Hospital.

What our amendment today is to strengthen the representation on the committee to take account of the particular needs of Pacific families.

Dr Ate Moala of Tongan descent, has a distinguished background in Pacific health, and in particular health related to the family. Dr Moala is Clinical Director of Pacific Orthopaedics in Wellington. She is a Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and has particular experience in working with Pacific communities on a range o health issues including breast cancer, immunisation, asthma and healthy lifestyles.

She is a Board member of the Pacific Health Research and Development Foundation Trust, and has been past President of the New Zealand Pasifika Medical Association.

Mr Speaker, we all know that culture counts. We believe that different cultural frameworks are vital in helping all New Zealanders to see health in a holistic way. And in terms of my amendment we consider it crucial that the issues of Pacific families are considered when coming to such a sensitive issue as abortion.

We have previously – in 2007 – put forward the nomination of Dr Moala as adding value to the cultural competency of the Abortion Supervisory Committee and of strengthening the composition and the professional knowledge available to the Committee.

We would hope that four years on wisdom will prevail and we will see a committee which represents the breath and diverse strengths of Pasifika populations alongside of tangata whenua and other populations.

We have a most solemn duty in this House to ensure that we act in this chamber in ways which enhance the health and wellbeing of all our people. I would hope that my amendment will enable us all to do that.

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