Tariana Turia, in perhaps the most bizarre political episode of the week, tabled an amendment seeking to appoint a raving lunatic to the Abortion Supervisory Committee. Luckily the vote failed, but what is most concerning is this from Turia:
In addressing the House, Mrs Turia said the issue of abortion was central to family well-being. "The protection and preservation of whakapapa and genealogy is fundamental to the broken health of our whanau".
I do not think abortion undermines the notion of whakapapa. Cultural values are fluid and change over time in response to changing circumstances. Maori inhabit a vastly different world and the notion of whakapapa has not remained static. Turia is allowing a very narrow interpretation of whakapapa to inform her views on what is essentially a health issue.
"I think about the precious heartbeat of every child, and I think about the comment that Ngati Whatua leader Naida Glavish once made, that there is no such thing as an unwanted mokopuna."
This is true, but a distraction from the real issue. Abortion is about a woman’s right to chose. It is unwise to allow an emotive assertion to obscure objective judgement.
Turia is undoubtedly a social conservative. It worries me when I see Maori values advancing socially conservative policy. Maori were and are pragmatists. Just because we lost some aspects of our culture and struggle to maintain others does not mean we have to hold onto to what we still have with an iron grip. Values and ideas are meant to change.