A select committee is travelling the country receiving oral submissions on the proposed Abortion Legislation Bill.

“Tuesday morning’s session held at Novotel in Auckland’s Ellerslie was attended by seven MPs and dominated by pro-life submissions.”

Stuff

Although submissions are dominated by pro-life advocates, the select committee is dominated by members in favour of the bill. Chaired by Ruth Dyson, the outcome is as predictable as the hearing is pointless.

“Of all the MPs present at Tuesday’s select committee, all voted in favour of the bill apart from Labour’s Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki and National’s Agnes Loheni.

The logic behind changing legislation to decriminalise abortion will allow women to “self-refer” themselves for an abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy without needing a GP’s approval.

“This legislation will reduce the mental distress of the abortion process itself.”

Maori are affected by the proposed change in legislation because they make up a disproportionate number of abortions and, culturally, the unborn child carries much more significance than the current law affords.

The unborn Maori child carries the DNA and mana of its ancestors, so where is our concern for the mental distress of the mother urged to ignore her heritage and responsibility for her unborn child? Who will speak for Maori women torn between abortion law and their culture? Who will speak for the unborn Maori baby, culturally recognised as a taonga but under abortion law not recognised at all?

Bradford Haami is speaking out for both. Brad is an expert in Maori culture with a passion for traditional and modern stories. Prior to making submissions on the proposed bill, he met with kaumatua to talk about the rights of the unborn child and it was decided that a Maori voice should be heard so Te Oko Hou, a pan-tribal faith community, entered a written submission and were then invited back to present their oral submission.

“Te Oko Hou claims the unborn child as a taonga under article two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and believes this deserves recognition and protection by the Crown.”

Te Oko Hou submission to the select committee on Abortion Law Reform

When Brad was subsequently interviewed by Claudette on Radio Waatea, he said the absence of a Maori on the select committee listening to his oral presentation meant much of the tikanga was lost in translation. Maori concepts had to be simplified to be translated into English.

“Whakapapa is a big issue. The issue of our unborn child – it is a living being in our culture and it doesn’t have a voice at present. This is a major part of our submission.”

We say that the unborn child is a person before it is born.

The message is, it is tangata and has mana. Four elements make it a taonga in the purest form. Because of that, it is a living being. Under tikanga, it is a child from conception but under the law it is only recognised at birth.”

We advocate for the unborn child as a taonga who deserves the right of personhood under article two of the Treaty of Waitangi. The kukune should recEIve protection, safety (tapu) and preservation of life.

We believe abortion cuts off the continuation of whakapapa MAori identity of the past, the present, and the future, eliminating a portion of our ancestry.

We also believe the decision to abort is primarily a whAnau, hapu and iwi decision and not simply that of the individual.

It is our belief that we should create New Zealand Laws that produce life, not death, and considers the spiritual beliefs and lore of the people of the land.

There is a need to embed a cultural deterrant for abortion where a more whanau healthy environment is created to support our women who find themselves with an unwanted preganancy. Provision should be created right at the ouTset of the decision making process not afterwards.

We believe it is your duty as the Crown in partnership with we as MAOri under article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi to protect that past, present and future whakapapa legacy of MAori and New Zealanders by creating an environment where the kukune unborn child and the mother are safe and their lives preserved physically and spiritually to life, not death.

Tukuna te waiora kia rere – exhort the continuation of whakapapa MAori in this generation.”

Extracts from Te Oko Hou submissions to the select committee Abortion Law Reform

The select committee for Abortion Law Reform may have hardened their hearts against the cry of the unborn child but there is still hope for its mother and for us to take heed of these ancient Maori words about the future of our nation:

Welcome O son, let me greet you;

You have indeed come from the origin of mankind.

From the cosy haven (abode of the child) emerged,

Out from the barrier of Darkness-ajar (loss of virginity/ pregnancy)

Out of the abode fashioned by TAne of the heavens

On the sands at the Crimson Bowl, where the Exalted-one-rejoiced,

In the Implanting of parenthood, sacred Implanting,

Heavenly Implanting of procreation in times remote;

‘Twas then blood welled forth flood-like to the house passage exit (where the child emerges from)

Thus like the stars, O son, were you conceived (shaped with the growth of bones, sinew, flesh, blood and other processes),

And acquired the Recess-of-the-mind, the Recess-of-the-spirit;

You then strived, O son, strived for a Rauru of renown;

A self-possessed Rauru, and strived against the fate of being still born.

You, O son, remained steadfast on the narrow pathway to the wide word

O son, ah me!

(A.T.Ngata & Pei Te Hurinui, NgA Moteatea Part III, song 201)

This section of this famous oriori (lullaby song) reiterates how the process of conception set in place by ancient forces in the realm of atua and wairua, are merged together with shape and form. Here divinity and physicality are fused together. It also reveals the desire for the unborn child to seek health, strength, satisfaction, self-awareness and strives not to enter the realm of the still-born (maruaitu – death in the womb). The song emplores the child to remain steadfast in the desire to thrust its way through the sacred birthing passage to emerge out in to the world of light.

We proclaim this to be truth by tikanga MAori.”

Extract from the submission by Te Oko Hou, authored by Bradford Haami