18 Jul 2013

Maori take lead at global welfare summit

8:19 am on 18 July 2013

A Tuhoe leader has delivered the opening speech at a world social workers' conference in Canada.

Tamati Cairns says he was one of only two delegates from New Zealand and both were Maori.

The recent summit in St John's in Newfoundland covered care, education and treatment for vulnerable children, youth and families.

Mr Cairns says he spent time with the Zulu people of South Africa, who he says shared some distressing information.

He says there are 11 million people in the Zulu nation, of whom 1.5 million have Aids, and children as young as 12 are becoming the carers of children after their parents die.

Mr Cairns says says the 600 delegates were captivated by his karakia before his speech and felt the spirit of its meaning though they could not understand what they were hearing,.

He says organisers asked for a translation of the prayer, which comes from the Bible.