Manukau Courier : November 25th 2010
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Take your first step towards a career in computing, communication, or business 7633 000115 MIT FACULTY OF BUSINESS Apply now l www.manukau.ac.nz l 0800 62 62 52 WHERE LEARNING IS A PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE Te reo and hegemonic paradigms Interesting -- the biggest mailbag of the year after my last columns with enlightening insights into people's thought processes -- and a clear guide to a public differ- ence of opinion. Plus a widening of my vocabulary, but not in Maori -- a complaint about my hegemonic paradigm'' and carte blanche'' in the one sen- tence sent me reaching for a dictionary, a lawyer or a medical textbook. (From the Oxford dic- tionary: Hegemony = dominance; paradigm = a pattern underlying a the- ory or methodology; carte blanche = full discretion- ary power given to one person.) One intriguing com- ment from a reader with a clinical position in Maori health: By the time said performances are completed there is little time for actual patient care.'' Another reader can't understand -- like me -- why radio's Morning Report lapses regularly into Maori, followed by ponderous translations. One last chorus on powhiri, karakia and waiata before the topic takes a back seat. William Ropata, Otara: As social com- mentators like Pat Booth continue to expose their racism, it is prudent for us all to be reminded that when we think about what makes our nation uniquely special on the global landscape, then it is our indigenous Maori culture that we have to recognise as our unique essence. It is not, as some in society may believe, a clean-green image (hardly true) or our anti-nuclear stance (hardly unique). When Pat Booth's hegemonic paradigm gives him carte blanche to apply his cultural mindset on traditional tikanga values, he needs to be reminded that the practice is racist, histori- cal and unhelpful. Women do not take the front row at a powhiri as a sign of sub- mission but rather as an indication of respect by men towards women. Our whanau are a most important consideration. Just a couple of hun- dred years ago in rather more tumultuous times, if women were lost then so was the tribe. Intentions of visitors could easily be a precur- sor to war, and so women stayed behind a protec- tive barrier of menfolk. The underlying values of tikanga never change, even in these rather more (but not entirely) peaceful times. So women in the second row at powhiri still has relevance today. It would come as a shock to Pakeha that in the quest for a bicultural society it is they who must change. Maori are bicultural already. Racism seeks to destroy the oppressor as well as the oppressed.'' Brian Rowe, St Heliers: It is high time that so-called Maori pro- tocol was confined to Maori occasions. The swearing-in of the new Auckland city mayor and councillors was definitely not one. Also to allow the deputy mayor to be rel- egated to a second row seat shows a weakness and bias in leadership which is worrying. We are both heartily sick of Maori welcoming parties greeting every important visitor with a haka, poking tongues and lengthy harangues that the visitors don't understand. They even travel overseas, on any excuse, to welcome, greet, bless, whatever, at the taxpayers' expense.'' Jill Duncalfe: Men sitting in front is role dif- ferentiation, not gender inequality. Just like in most homes men do the heavy work like cleaning out the guttering on the roof and women take care of the social contact side of life. Both roles are very important to healthy family life. Men sitting in front at powhiri traditionally protected the women from a possible attack. Women, as bearers of children, were import- ant, and men were stronger fighters. Okay there's no likelihood of being attacked during a powhiri these days, so why bother? This is how our differ- ent ideas of what a per- son is comes into it. We European New Zealand- ers think of a person as an individual presence, standing on their per- sonal strengths, personal rights, self confidence, self esteem and self assertion and self auton- omy. There is another idea about what a person is -- that a person is a point that stands on a line of persons from the past and into the future. So rather than being a singular presence, a per- son is a presence in the company of those people who have passed away and those who are members of their wider family even though they might not be physically present. When a person is encountered like this there is a non-physical dimension to their pres- ence that needs to be attended to. This is what a powhiri takes care of. It's a different type of safety that acknowledges the potential for spiritual or psychic danger and the powhiri ensures this kind of safety for both visitors and hosts. In any healthy part- nership, one person's ideas are respected by the other person and vice versa. For example, if a man thinks it's worth making time to watch the game on TV and his partner thinks it's worth making time to go to a book club, a partner worth holding on to would support their other half, rather than put them down. Likewise with our partnership with Maori. Let's put our money where our mouth is and start practising this egalitarianism we value so highly.'' Graham Oliver: I too want to understand what is being said at powhiri. Consequently I have started to learn te reo. I try to live by the maxim seek first to understand then to be understood'. I can recom- mend it. Kia kaha.'' Ron Hood: What's happened to our cultural protocol of ladies first? This goes back centuries and precedes the alleged Maori settlements in New Zealand even if this is assumed to be as early as 925 AD. In 925, the knights of old were bowing to the ladies and stepping back to allow them to enter the court or room ahead of them. That is our protocol and precedes the first marae ever built in New Zea- land.'' Henry Perkins, Bot- any Downs: It's time someone spoke up. Some years ago a friend commented that the way we seem to get Maori ceremony imposed when- ever something was opened, it wouldn't be long before we had to have a karakia before we opened an envelope. At each future council or local board meeting they should be required to stand while the national anthem is played (not sung) using a tape or CD if necessary. Powhiri, etc, could then follow if desired. In a similar vein, when are the All Blacks ever going to sing the anthem with the vigour of the haka?''
November 23rd 2010
November 26th 2010