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The need for Partnership while retaining individual identity

7/12/12 · Posted in Leadership, Partnership

The Chair of the Christchurch branch’s Access Committee, Hine Moke, talks about the need for partnership in leadership. Hine is also a member of the Christchurch branch’s Local Advisory Committee, which provides governance for the branch.

I have a strong passion for an inclusive community. Earlier this year, CCS Disability Action’s Upper South region signed an agreement with Ngāi Tahu. The agreement was about the new He Oranga Pounamu health organisation, Ngāi Tahu has set up. Hopefully, we will be able to work alongside He Oranga Pounamu to strengthen whānau (family). We are particularly keen to give whānau the confidence to look after their tamariki (children) so that they are not put into residential care.

In my opinion, the disability and Māori communities have a similar history. Partnerships can be sometimes a non brainer. For example, communicating between cultures involves a fundamental partnership. If you learn a language you have to work in partnership with people from that language. The history of bicultural partnership in New Zealand was based partially on language. William Hobson, the first New Zealander Governor, learning Te Reo Māori was key to the drafting and signing of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi). The early partnership based on language led to a written version of Te Reo being developed, which has grown like the English language with new words added to this day

Another example of a language partnership is sign language. According to the American School of the deaf, the first Sign Language school was founded in Paris 1755. Abbe Sicard, Director of the school together with his two deaf assistants, Jean Massieu and Laurent Clerc, gave lectures and demonstrations on methods to educate deaf children in France. Dr Thomas Gallaudet from USA was familiar with the work of the French School, and had even met with the Abbe at the beginning of his visit to England, but it was not until he had despaired of reaching his goal with the English that he turned to the French. Gallaudet attended one of the lectures, met with the Abbe and his assistants, and accepted their invitation to enter the teacher preparation program at the French school.  That’s how Sign Language began it universal journey. The deaf community don’t consider themselves disabled. They consider being deaf a culture, in part because they have a shared language, one born in partnership.

I believe identity is important. I’m a disabled Maori woman of tutowhertoa iwi, Christchurch is my home. As Kiwis we pride ourselves on cultural diversity! I’m proud of my culture and the opportunities it has given me, just as I’m proud of the my identity as a disabled person and the opportunities it has given me. It’s my physical identity. The first thing I go back to when people ask where I am from.

Community identity is just as important for me. I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. Post-earthquake I had to relocate to another ‘accessible flat, however, it had an inaccessible kitchen. I said no! to the flat because I was not prepared to have my joy of cooking taken away from me. Cooking had become an important part of who I had grown to become in the community. I would often bake at Christmas for the people who had supported me throughout the year, especially those who weren’t paid to do so! It had become my identity through community partnership.

The disabled community has many partnerships with the non-disabled community in Christchurch. We have non-disabled people advocating for an accessible Christchurch city. Some people don’t believe that non-disabled people should be taking an important leadership role. I understand their point, however, to get people to engage with the wider community and majority of non-disabled politicians, we need to involve non-disabled people. New Zealand has many disabled leaders shining through, not just in the disability community, but everywhere in the community.  I don’t believe that having non-disabled leaders alongside disabled leaders in the disability community takes away from disabled leadership because as long as everyone sees each other as individuals with their own identity- that’s inclusion. We need to work together in partnership!

I would like to leave you with a thought;

Don’t let your past be the reason why you don’t foresee the future. You might miss out!

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