In a profound demonstration of unity and solidarity, Aupito William Sio, the former Labour Minister for Pacific Peoples, represented the voices and hearts of Pacific communities at the recent Waitangi Day commemorations. His participation underscored a pivotal moment of cultural and historical significance, reinforcing the deep-rooted connections between the peoples of the Pacific and the indigenous Māori of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Embracing Languages and Cultures
Sio's address at the event was notable not only for its content but also for the linguistic journey it embarked upon—beginning in te reo Māori and transitioning into Samoan, before concluding in English. This linguistic choice was more than a mere formality; it was a powerful affirmation of the intertwined cultural heritage and mutual respect between these communities. As the only speaker granted permission to deliver his whaikōrero (formal speech) in English, Sio stood as a testament to the inclusive spirit of the day, embodying his role as a cultural bridge.
A Message of Unity and Support
Throughout his speech, Sio reflected on the historical instances of support between iwi (tribes) and Pacific communities, emphasising the shared experiences and collective responsibility that binds them. He articulated a clear message: "Those of us who now call Aotearoa our home, we must stand, must be with you." This sentiment resonated deeply with those in attendance, highlighting the shared struggles and aspirations of Pacific peoples and Māori.
A Promise of Continued Solidarity
Sio concluded his address with a commitment to action, promising to convene Pacific leaders in the coming months to develop a plan of support for Kiingi Tūheitia, the Māori King. This gesture of solidarity was not just a promise for the future but a continuation of the longstanding camaraderie between these communities.
This gesture of unity at Waitangi Day by Sio and Pacific leaders, walking together onto Te Whare Runanga Marae, symbolised the deep-rooted connections and mutual respect between Pacific peoples and Māori, showcasing a collective approach towards a more inclusive future for all New Zealanders.