This year’s theme for NZSTA Awareness week 2021 is Rangatiratanga, which is one of our core values. Rangatiratanga is associated with sovereignty, leadership, autonomy to make decisions, and self-determination. The word Rangatiratanga was used in article 2 in Te Tiriti o Waitangi to ensure Māori maintained control over their whenua/lands, culture, and taonga/treasures.
What does that mean for speech language therapists? Rangatiratanga captures people’s right to participate in decisions about their health, education and well-being. It’s leading their own journey.
How do we tautoko/support Māori, and all New Zealanders to exercise Rangatiratanga? How do we practice Rangatiratanga as speech language therapists in Aotearoa/New Zealand? NZSTA Awareness week 2021 is an opportunity to share stories of challenges we’ve faced and overcome, celebrations of advocacy and promotion of self-determination, and working with clients and whānau to awhi and tautoko their journey with navigating health, education and speech-language therapy services.
The word ‘Rangatiratanga’ has been used and abused for a long time and tends to be handcuffed to whenua & ToW kaupapa. However, to this fulla whose tribe did not agree to the signing of ToW back in the 1840s, rangatiratanga is about leadership and being a good leader. Uncle Manu Bennett, Pihopa o Aotearoa, was tired of the mixed-up views of what leadership is among our own people back in the 1990s. At one of our wananga he gave a different definition of leadership and is what I have tried to apply ever since. His whakatauakii is:
Ko te kai o te rangatira ko te korero – leaders live through good communication
Ko te tohu o te rangatira ko te manaaki – the sign of a leader is the aroha, care & support given
Ko te mahi o te rangatira ko te whakakotahi i te iwi – the main job of a leader is uniting the people.
Every one of us know what a good leader is and can give local & international examples. But the biggest thing that we have to do is believe that we are those leaders too.
SLTs are leading in their own fields, work, and communities and with diversity as the biggest benefit!!
Awareness Week can celebrate and acknowledge kaupapa Maori work that SLTs are leading (as in Uncle Manu’s words) and doing e.g. from performing ‘tutira mai’ action song to discuss cultural safety at Summit hui.
Rangatiratanga, ahakoa te iti, ahakoa te nui he taonga tuku iho ma tatou katoa.