An open letter to Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia

whanau ora

Tēnā kōrua Tariana and Pita,

I write to ask you both, as the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Minister of Whānau Ora, to rectify the tapu that has been disregarded. Explicitly, I am referring to the comments and actions made by John Tamihere and Willie Jackson over the past week. As prominent Māori leaders, their male bigotry reflects a tikanga of male dominance rather than a tikanga of male respect for women. The obvious factor to address is JT and Willy’s leadership roles at two organisations which are funded by TPK through the Whānau Ora initiative. As a counsellor I would hate to know that the CEO of a wrap-around social service entity, is contradicting the ethos of her/his organisation by their insensitive handling of a sensitive issue.

Rape is rape; end of story. If JT and Willy can get away with basically vilifying a rape victim, it not only shows their support for male bigotry but inaction on your behalf shows your support for the same tikanga. Te Puni Kōkiri is apparently ‘a group moving forward together to realise Māori potential’ – hopefully “Māori potential” is synonymous with admirable sincerity rather than atrocious callousness. There is no doubt that both MUMA and the Waipareira Trust have and will continue to empower many families, yet there is evident doubt over whether their leaders are fit for the job. I am not calling for TPK to be the moral and ethical police on the organisations it invests into but I am suggesting a needed congruency between the mana of its leaders and the tikanga of their establishments.

Briefly, I call for TPK and Whānau Ora to hand both MUMA and the Waipareira Trust an ultimatum: terminate John Tamihere and Willy Jackson’s contracts within the next two weeks, or further funding towards the mentioned entities will cease at the end of the present financial year. At the end of the day, what kind of an example do we want to set for our rangatahi, that rape is okay? Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the greatest tragedy “is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people.” So what tikanga do you want to leave as a legacy for our youth? What message do you want to portray to women, and what license are you giving to men? Intervene into this debacle, and hand MUMA and the Waipareira Trust the ultimatum.

Sounds harsh…but not as harsh as the comments made to the girl ‘Amy’:

“How free and easy are you kids these days?”

“Girls shouldn’t be drinking anyway, should they?”

“If they gave consent, than it’s not rape, right?”

I’m pretty sure women are tapu, am I right? If so, honour their mana wāhine and throw MUMA and Waipareira the ultimatum. A man’s mana is measured by his respect for women; no respect equates to no mana.

This is my wero.

From Te Kaituhi Lewis,



8 thoughts on “An open letter to Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia

  1. Kia ora ehoa. These two CEOs are the reason why their two respective organisations have been so successful. MUMA and Waipareira should not be penalised by their dismissal.and they have in fact been punished by the media Media Works. A few months hence and the “roast busters” are still fancy free. Shouldn’t we be urging a quicker resolution to this alleged horrible crime than beating up on JT and WJ?

  2. Who do you think established these organisations and their services for their beneficiaries in west and south Auckland? Their comments are just that and would have had no impact on rangatahi who don’t tune in to Radio Live. This smear must not go beyond the two individuals, to the organisations they worked their guts out for. The idea that they should stand down because of it is ridiculous. If you do work for them then you no doubt are no longer doing so. That’s your prerogative. It’s not theirs.

  3. Willie and JT should be stood down from any roles they have with vulnerable communities as their behavior clearly cuts across the face of what Waipareira and MUMA kaimahi are trying to achieve but most of all their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters must be appalled their attitude to females in particular those that have been violated by rapists as has happened in this instance. The honorable thing to do would be resign however to do that, they first need to admit they were wrong, but I cant see them doing that because they are to arrogant, as for mana in the community gone long ago

    1. Kia ora Gordon Aston,

      I tautoko your comment. At the end of the day this issue is not going to just blow over and go away. JT and Willy need to acknowledge their endorsement of misogyny and step down from their positions as CEO’s of MUMA and Waipareira. Our wāhine deserve better.

  4. As far as appealing to the two Ministers of TPK and Whanau Ora to stop funding for Waipareira just because of what Tamihere and Willie Jackson said; I’m sorry I don’t get the logic. Why should recipients of this funding suffer for something JT said on air? It won’t hurt him. Let’s look at the alleged statements;

    How free and easy are you kids these days?

    That’s a fair question given what is alleged to have happened ie drinking, going out at the age of 13, and the consequences. JT and WJ were asking a kid not a woman. In fact no such person with any respect for their sacred being would have been involved or present.

    Girls shouldn’t drink anyway should they?

    I assume they meant alcohol. The answer is NO. They should not have at the age of 13.

    If they gave consent that’s not rape right?

    This is where JT and WJ got it very wrong. If the victim is under age then it is wrong regardless. Worse still the allegation is that a 13 year old was plied with alcohol and then taken advantage of. However the police are to blame for not charging the rapists, not JT and WJ. Finally everyone should be treated with respect not only women.

    1. Kia ora Atihana m Johns,

      There were more comments made than the ones I used in this post, but more importantly I’ll clarify my post. I am not advocating for the suffering of those that utilize MUMA and Waipareira’s services, what I am advocating for, is that the CEOs of the two entities incarnate a congruent character that equates with their organization’s ethos. JT’s and Willy’s actions throughout the week confirm this discrepancy that needs to be rectified. As a counsellor, I would never want my clients to suffer due to redundant workplace funding, but I also wouldn’t want to work for someone that evidently contradicts the purpose of their entity. I say yes, to MUMA and Waipareira continuing their great work in the community, but I say no to Willy and JT being at the helm. My wero to TPK and Whanau Ora is a challenge of accountability, the leaders of the wrap-around services should be people who evidently stand for what they portray. I do agree that the NZ Police are to blame for the Rape Busters walking free, but JT and Willy hold a certain mana in the Maori community. What essentially have their comments and actions endorsed for our rangatahi?

      Kia maia, kia kaha, kia manawanui

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