Thursday, October 24, 2019

Supporting AirNZ's use of Te Reo Māori - Problem with the Quality of Reo Used

It’s fantastic to see Air New Zealand embracing Te Reo Māori - using it and making it available for customers in various ways. Long may this continue.
Our national airline is not just a purveyor of goods and services, a mover of people and freight. It is also a ‘carrier’ of our national identity, culture and personality. Because of its high visibility and impact, Air NZ receives a daily opportunity to shape and contribute to NZ life far beyond their core work of flying aeroplanes.
By including Te Reo Māori in aspects of Air NZ’s business it tells us that the airline understands its role in helping to shape national identity and is open to the contribution of the Māori world to that national identity. Chief Digital Officer, Jennifer Sepull, makes this point in the Oct 2019 edition of ‘Kia Ora’ magazine (p. 176) where she says ‘As New Zealand’s national airline we recognise Māori culture is an especially important part of the nation’s identity and we try to bring that to life through our brand and customer experiences globally.’
So I was pleased to see, when I flew to Dunedin and Queenstown last week, the availability of Te Reo Māori in the check-in kiosks and bag drops. 
When using the Te Reo Māori option, however, I was disappointed in the quality of the Māori language used. It was unnecessarily complicated and the messages could have been conveyed in a simpler fashion with commonly used words and phrases.
I very much support the use of words and phrases that accurately convey what is intended, even when this means using little known or used words or phrases. This is often done in an effort to broaden popular vocabulary. I also appreciate that when the reo is used in entirely new contexts (such as at an airline check-in), new and unfamiliar words and phrases will naturally be required.
However, in my view, the fundamental thrust of meaning ought to be secured first (through using common words and phrases) before little known words and phrases are used. And when they are used, they should be done so sparingly and in such a way that strengthens (rather than compromises) the overall intended meaning. The successful communication of meaning is most important and the use of Te Reo Māori ought to meet this goal, just like any language. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the Māori language used in Air NZ kiosks and bag drops.
Here is an example:
Karapahia te waehere pae.
These words (except ‘te’ and ‘pae’) are unfamiliar to me and what is meant here is therefore unclear. I had to search for their meaning by looking at the photo and by recalling previous occasions at the airport. Doing this, however, defeated the whole purpose of employing Māori in the first place. 
Here is another example:
Hoatu tō puka whakaeke taupānga tō Ī-Tīkiti mata whakarunga rānei ki raro i te pūkarapa waehere pae i raro nei.
This is a very wordy sentence full of unknown phrases such as:
- puka whakaeke taupānga
- Ī-Tīkiti mata whakarunga 
- Pūkarapa waehere pae
The use of 'hoatu’ is also incorrect here.
With a bit of study, one could work it out, but no one has the time to do this when checking in at an airport. Again, this could be communicated using simpler language and I wonder whether some of these words are unnecessary? (Eg: mata whakarunga?) Additionally, this has the feel of substituting English words for Māori words (rather than true translation/interpretation) as the structure of the sentence feels English too.
There is a lot more that can be said about the use of Māori on the AirNZ kiosks and bag drops. I applaud AirNZ for embracing the language and hope that this will continue and grow. However, I hope that they consider simplifying the Māori language they use and perhaps make greater use of peer review and audience/customer testing?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Future of Whare Tapere – Tangata Whenua ‘Houses’ of Storytelling and other entertainments

Since convening a number of whare tapere upon my kāinga
in Hauraki (Waimangō, 2010-14), I have been approached numerous times regarding the use of aspects of the whare tapere - including the name and associated terms - in a variety of performing arts and theatre settings. For example, Te Pou Theatre in Henderson recently discussed the use of the term in some of its programming material. In 2018, the New Zealand Festival discussed using the term prior to the 2018 Festival and ‘whare tapere’ also appears in the new strategy for Māori Arts created by Creative New Zealand. This is a small number of examples that demonstrate an increasing interest in the whare tapere.

This blogpost was written in response to these various approaches and sets out my thoughts regarding the use of the term ‘whare tapere’ in iwi and non-iwi settings. The paper discusses my views regarding how the term ought to be used today and in doing so, it includes a discussion regarding the future of the whare tapere overall, as I see it.

Key Point
Unfortunately, a continuously convened whare tapere tradition does not currently exist and has not existed since the 19th century. Some aspects of the traditional whare tapere do appear in the modern ‘Māori concert party’ and the contemporary kapa haka but many do not. Given the fragility of the whare tapere today, I am reluctant to see the proliferation of the use of these terms in settings outside of iwi/hapū/whānau communities until such a contemporary tradition does exist. A key feature of this envisaged contemporary tradition is the confirmation of the meaning of these terms aligned to the history of the whare tapere itself, the histories and aspirations of iwi/hapū/whānau communities and, indeed, meanings found within the Māori language. Such a contemporary tradition ought to be established within iwi/hapū/whānau communities first for the knowledge and practices of the whare tapere in history belong to those communities. It is they who should benefit first from any initiatives to advance the whare tapere today.

Whare Tapere in History
Historically, whare tapere were iwi/hapū/whānau located and convened ‘houses’ of storytelling and other entertainments. It was a place where these communities told stories to one another, played games, performed on musical instruments and puppets and much more. And all of this was to be conducted under the guiding principle expressed as follows:

Kia kawea tātou e te rēhia.
Let us be taken by joy and entertainment.

Hence, the whare tapere was a place of joy and entertainment, where iwi/hapū/whānau told stories to one another and indulged in all manner of games, pastimes and entertainments. Whare Tapere were convened at a variety of locations – such as an open field, or at the base of a tree – and it appears that special structures were not created for the whare tapere (unlike the whare wānanga, for example). Hence, the word ‘whare’ was used figuratively in the activities of the ‘whare tapere’.

One of the features of the historical whare tapere was that it was the only institution of pā-villages (that I am aware of) where all members of the community could attend. All other pā institutions – such as the whare wānanga, whare rūnanga, whare pora, whare-tū-taua and so on - were exclusive and were set aside for a particular section of the community and not for all. The whare tapere, on the other hand, was for the community as a whole. All could attend and participate.

A second and important aspect of the whare tapere was that the community of the whare tapere was defined by the district or geographic area of that community - the area or district of land in which they held ‘mana whenua’ and are recognised by others as the tangata whenua of that area. Hence, the whare tapere was an institution of the tangata whenua and used as a means to perpetuate and strengthen mana whenua.

The link between land and the whare tapere is found in the word ‘tapere’, an old word for district or territory. It is not often used here in Aotearoa but examples do exist, such as ‘Te Taperenui-o-Whātonga’ (‘Whātonga’s great area’) in northern Wairarapa and Motutapere, an island in the Coromandel. There are other examples too. Tapere is an older Polynesian word and perhaps the most well-known use of the term is in Rarotonga, where the island is divided by a number of districts or tapere.

A whare tapere, therefore, is a ‘house of a district’. Because, in the traditional tangata whenua worldview, people and land are one, tapere refers to both a geographic area and the people of that area. Ultimately, the whare tapere existed to foster the tangata whenua of a particular district, the people who possess the ‘mana whenua’ of that area. It was a ‘community house’ where rēhia inspired storytelling, entertainments and other activities took place.

Whare Tapere Today and Going Forward – The Making of a New Tradition
It has been my aspiration that the whare tapere once again become a feature of iwi life throughout the country - and that we create whare tapere in much the same way as we have established kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, whare kura and whare wānanga, business enterprises (such as tourism activities) and other initiatives, all under the umbrella of our iwi communities. Similarly, I have thought it possible to create a contemporary whare tapere tradition and practice in much the same way as our taonga pūoro leaders have created contemporary taonga pūoro practice and tradition (based upon research concerning taonga pūoro in history).

In convening whare tapere today, I feel it important that the whare tapere speaks and relates meaningfully to the issues, challenges and opportunities facing iwi/hapū/whānau communities today - this is so that it remains relevant and our community members find value in it. We will not be able to sustain the whare tapere if it does not present value to our people, if it does not address what is happening to our people today - and the opportunities and challenges facing them in the future.

One of the key issues - perhaps the most critical issue - facing iwi/hapū/whānau/marae communities today is disunity and fragmentation. Experiences of migration, land loss, diminishment of iwi estates, loss of power and much more has led these communities into their current fragmented and conflicted state. These experiences have produced a lack of trust internally in our communities - in our representative structures and in each other. There is an ongoing conflict regarding expertise and sources of authoritative knowledge (particularly with respect to mātauranga Māori) and a worrying lack of decision making skill, discipline and capability. 

The picture is not entirely negative, however, as these communities continue to exist and function (despite extraordinary odds) and, in some cases, have achieved significant things - such as kōhanga reo. When we think about, for example, the settlement of Treaty claims and how this can bring new possibilities to a people, we see that iwi communities do possess capabilities. (Recognising, too, that Treaty claim settlement processes have created enormous conflict in our communities - we are not achieving the healing and a sense of justice, vindication and achievement that is our due.)

There is much work to do concerning kotahitanga and whanaungatanga within our iwi/hapū/whānau communities, particularly at the level of relationships between iwi members. I feel that the modern whare tapere ought to be clearly focused upon how it can contribute to fostering the unity-kotahitanga and, hence, mana of these communities and in an ongoing way. (Kotahitanga is a journey not a destination, as we like to say).

To this end, I see three needs:

  • The need to provide joyful, uplifting and entertaining experiences within iwi communities for iwi members
  • The need for our people to hear our stories about ourselves and the world we experience and in an ongoing way
  • The need to increase our experience and confidence with creating and sustaining creative enterprises

In addressing these needs, we will foster positive relationships and whanaungatanga amongst our communities. 

I feel it important that our communities invest in activities that are fundamentally joyful in orientation - that our people experience their iwi communities not just as a place of conflict and where serious things take place (like tangihanga, for example) but also where wondrous and joyful things take place as well. Conveniently, this aligns with the kaupapa of the whare tapere expressed in ‘kia kawea tātou e te rēhia’.

With respect to hearing our stories, it is not too much to say that our people have been ‘starved’ of nourishing kōrero about ourselves - our histories as a people, our identities, our experiences. It recognises that there is a great yearning within our people for authoritative and high-quality presentations of our stories and in an ongoing way.  It also acknowledges that one of the key features of colonisation was the erasure of our stories about ourselves. In losing our stories, we lose sight of ourselves and our experiences and, hence, we lose our very identity as a people.

Finally, after such a long history of loss, our people (as iwi, hapū, whānau) have also been starved of success. Yes there have been successes in the iwi world since the 19th century, but it is fair to say that many iwi/hapū/whānau/marae communities have not experienced tremendous and ongoing success. There is a need to build the confidence of our communities with respect to dreaming dreams, articulating goals and aspirations and achieving them. This contributes significantly to a sense of community cohesion, pride and identity.

Given these ideas, this is how I describe the whare tapere today and into the future:

  • A whare tapere is a place where tangata whenua communities (iwi, hapū whānau, marae) tell stories and entertain one another in a rēhia inspired way. This is done so as to foster the identity, unity and mana of those communities. 
  • The whare tapere is a place where these communities tell their stories about their history, identity and experiences. It is a way of reflecting back to themselves their understanding of the world, themselves and their experiences.
  • As the purpose of the whare tapere is to foster the identity, unity and mana of tangata whenua communities, the audience and participants in the whare tapere are primarily members of those communities. However, much value is gained by those communities when they present their stories to others as well.
  • Similarly, whilst the work of the whare tapere is to tell the stories of that tangata whenua community, from time to time the whare tapere may also present stories from elsewhere, particularly where those stories align to and/or are relevant to a matter of importance to those communities.
  • The contemporary whare tapere draws inspiration from the whare tapere in history; however, it is free to fashion new approaches to storytelling, entertainments and performances to successfully appeal to contemporary audiences and community members so long as it adheres to the two foundational ideas of ‘whare tapere’ and ‘Kia kawea tātou e te rēhia.’

Use of these terms and aspects of the whare tapere outside of iwi communities
Given these ideas, I do not support the use of the terms whare tapere (and associated terms such as whare mātoro and whare karioi) in non-iwi settings and for the following reasons:

  • The histories and traditions of the whare tapere in history belong to iwi/hapū/whānau communities. Therefore, it is those communities who should benefit from the use of whare tapere and its knowledge in the first instance
  • Knowledge, understanding and the identity of the whare tapere today exists in a fragile state. There is no widespread and shared understanding of the whare tapere and its various aspects. Taking the creativity of the whare tapere into non-iwi settings (such as the ‘theatre’) runs the risk of misrepresenting the meanings of these terms and the entire whare tapere tradition.

I recognise that the name ‘whare tapere’ already appears in a number of non-iwi locations - such as at the Academy of Performing Arts, Waikato University and the rehearsal space used by the band Herbs, located in Kingsland, Auckland. As I say, I generally do not support this concerned as I am with how the richness of the whare tapere tradition can be lost when this is done. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples where the richness of mātauranga Māori has been inhibited from expression by uplifting Māori words with little understanding. Perhaps the most well-known example (from the field of performings arts and theatre) is the translation of the word haka as ‘war dance’. Haka is continuously translated in this way in the public sphere. Haka simply means ‘dance’ and, as a verb, haka means ‘dancing’ or ‘to dance’. There are many other examples too - such as the use of the terms ‘whare wānanga’ in our universities - and the view that the months of the Maramataka are equivalent to the months of the Gregorian/solar calendar. As our interest in mātauranga Māori grows, so our disciplines concerning the use of this knowledge ought to grow too.

The histories, traditions and literature of the whare tapere - as incomplete and fragmented as our current understanding of it is - represents a tremendous opportunity for our iwi communities, one we should seize upon and yield with great enthusiasm!

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal (Marutūahu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngā Puhi) completed doctoral studies concerning the whare tapere at Victoria University of Wellington in 1998. He established Ōrotokare: Art, Story, Motion Trust in 2004 as a vehicle to advance the modern whare tapere and between 2010 to 2014, convened four whare tapere within his iwi/hapū/whānau community (Ngāti Whanaunga, Te Whānau-a-Haunui) at Waimangō Point, on the Firth of Thames, Hauraki.

How to cite this blogpost
'The Future of Whare Tapere - Tangata Whenua 'Houses' of Storytelling and other entertainments' by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal. Published to the 'Aro-Mind' blog by Charles Royal, 3 October 2019. (

(c) C Royal 2019. Except for reasonable quoting for research purposes (where the quote is cited and sourced correctly), no part or whole of this blogpost may be reproduced in any form without permission. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Is Io a pre-European tradition?

From time to time, I am asked whether I believe Io to be a pre-European tradition or not. Here are my thoughts:
  • I am open to the idea that the Io tradition does have a history prior to the arrival of the European to Aotearoa-New Zealand. Given the multiplicity of atua in the traditional Māori pantheon, it is likely that someone, somewhere was inspired enough to conceive of one, overall and superior atua. 
  • My question, however, is this: can we be finally conclusive and definitive about it? Is it possible to finally prove that Io is pre-European? In my view, I don't think so. As I say, I am open to the possibility. I am just doubtful whether we can prove the Io tradition to be pre-European - it could be, it might not be.
  • I have found that evidence asserting Io as a pre-European tradition is unconvincing and occasionally disappointing. For example, Michael Shirres (who I met and knew) relied solely on the work and evidence of my granduncle Māori Marsden in his book He Tangata. He does provide examples of Io literature from other iwi traditions but none point directly to a pre-European history for Io. He relies solely upon Uncle Māori’s assertion that it is and no other corroborating evidence is provided. (See note below as to what I think Uncle Māori's real interest was.)
  • It’s also notable to discover that references to Io begin to appear in the written record later in the 19th century rather than earlier. For example, Io does not appear in the numerous whakapapa books of authorities such as Te Rangikāheke of Te Arawa and Mātene Te Whiwhi of Ngāti Toa. Whakapapa dictated by my tupuna Te Ahukaramū of Ngāti Raukawa in 1856 does not include Io, however, whakapapa written by his grandson Kipa Roera in 1915 does include Io. I do not think it correct to assert that because Kipa includes Io in his whakapapa that his grandfather knew Io too. As I say, it is possible that Te Ahukaramū did know Io but it is difficult to conclusively say he did.
  • There is also the explanation offered by some (often very reputable people such as Pei Te Hurinui) that Io was never shared publicly and was known only by those initiated in the tradition. It is asserted that Io was a secret cult and this accounts for the absence of Io in whakapapa books written in the early 19th century. This is possible. The problem with this, however, is that just as we can say that Io was secret, was not written down and this accounts for the absence of Io in the written record, we can also equally say that because we have no written evidence we can not conclusively say that Io is pre-European.
  • The other problem is the lack of evidence from other parts of Polynesia. There is very little literature found in Te Moananui-a-Kiwa that is akin to Io in the same way that we can find similarities throughout Polynesia for Tāne, Hine, Ranginui, Papa and particularly Tangaroa. Additionally, if there is a Polynesian claim for a supreme being it is more likely for Tangaroa, for obvious reasons.
  • Hence, in my view, it is difficult to be finally conclusive on the pre-European provenance for Io. As I say, I am open to the possibility. I just think it is difficult for us to prove it today.
  • I also ask, does it matter anyway? Does it really matter that we can prove Io to be pre-European? For me, I think, in the end, no. What is more important (and more interesting) is the meaning, value and significance of the Io tradition rather than its history, as interesting as this might be. I find now that it is more important to ask, what does the tradition hold for us today and going forward?
  • I suggest that it is this question that lies at the heart of Māori Marsden’s enthusiasm for the Io tradition. He wrote about it on various occasions and I was present at a number of wānanga where he spoke about Io (he gave me some Io whakapapa too and the Ngā Puhi version of Tāne's ascent). As I say, I suspect that his real interest in Io was not because of its historical provenance but rather because of the value he saw in the tradition for young Māori like myself. Uncle Māori, as a Minister, was more interested in the spiritual welfare of his people than their history (although he knew a lot about this too!) and this led him to think about the value of the tradition rather than its history. 
  • I believe that the preoccupation with proving a pre-European history for Io really comes from a lack of confidence in our Māoritanga. At least, this was my experience - for I look back now and see that my concern to discover proof for pre-European Io was really about 'feeling authentic', trying to get in touch with some true or real experience and knowledge of Māoritanga. In doing so, I idealised the past and overlooked the richness of the present. When I began to ask myself what mātauranga Māori was all about anyway - when I began to look into the meaning and significance of the Io tradition - I found that my anxiety to 'prove' the authenticity of the Io tradition diminished.
  • As I spent more time exploring what the tradition actually represents - its core wisdom - I began to see that it is not Christianity dressed up in Māori symbols and ideas, as some would have it. I see the Io tradition as a profound meditation on the nature of life and existence based upon the idea that there is one source for all things and to which all things return in a perennial and unending cycle. I also see that it contains ideas of growth and maturation, that the world is birthed from Io and is equivalent to Io, an idea that contrasts with the Old Testament idea that the world was 'created' by God, is a manifestation of God's creative power and is not, therefore, equivalent to God.
  • We see, therefore, that there are similarities and differences between the Io and Christian traditions.  However, they are not exactly the same. I believe, also, that interest in the Io tradition grew in our iwi communities in the face of the rise of Christianity. There was an intensification of interest in the Io tradition, there were even attempts to build bridges between the Io tradition and Christian. This is found in Kipa Roera's whakapapa books (in my possession) as well as in the letters of Rev Paora Temuera of Ōtaki to Eric Ramsden.

The Value of Te Reo Māori

Every language is a temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined.
Oliver Wendall-Holmes, American Jurist
The value of the Māori language is not so that we say in Māori precisely what we would say in English anyway; but rather that the Māori language is the vehicle of or an avenue into a distinctive way of thinking about, explaining and ultimately experiencing life. For, after all, this is the value of any language – a distinctive way of experiencing, responding to and explaining life[i].
Languages share things with each other and they also differ in significant ways – and it is this ‘significant difference’ that we ultimately seek to give expression to as we foster, grow, and advance Te Reo Māori today.
Of course, it is important to acknowledge that the Māori language is a taonga, a treasure of inestimable value. We should, therefore, act to ensure its future.
We should also remind ourselves that New Zealand has certain obligations and responsibilities to the Māori language and we should meet them.
However, we should be equally motivated and inspired (and perhaps, in time, finally so) by the tremendous enrichment and opportunity that the Māori language represents for modern day life in Aotearoa New Zealand – for this is where its value truly resides.
The Māori language has been spoken in this country for hundreds of years. We do not know when exactly it was created (given its ancient Polynesian origins), but we do know that it came here in approximately 1350 (a ‘limb’ of the tree of Polynesian languages).
Over the next four centuries, and prior to European arrival, what came to be known as ‘the Māori language’ changed and grew according to life in these islands.
As these Polynesian pioneers encountered new species of flora and fauna, new climactic conditions (including a type of cold they would never have experienced in central Polynesia), a new landscape and waterways, so their language changed and adapted accordingly.
Eventually, the entire country became ‘clothed’ in the Māori language and this remains the case today.
They also had to learn new ways of harvesting resources, they had to learn how to garden and grow crops, they had to learn how to erect buildings and other structures, they had to create new kinds of clothing and so much more.
While learning how to live successfully in this new environment, they also had to update ways of organising community, ways of making decisions, ways of resolving conflict and so much more. All of this took place in ‘te reo Māori’.
The first time a baby was born in this country, te reo Māori was the language; the first time lovers fell in love, and fell out of love, te reo Māori was the language; the first time conflict occurred and was resolved, the first time something was lost and found again, the first time failure was endured and success was finally achieved, the first time anyone sang a song, or danced, played games and so much more, all of this was done first in the Māori language – it was the language through which humanity first came to voice in this part of the world.
When Europeans arrived and brought a profoundly different worldview and experience, many aspects were enthusiastically adopted by Māori of the time. This included literacy, technologies, methods of local and national organisation and, of course, the Biblical worldview.
Consequently, a tremendous amount of change and creativity took place and again the language changed and grew in response to these experiences.
As we know, Māori creativity was seriously undermined in the colonial period and much was lost. However, it is vitally important to acknowledge that despite the assault upon it, the Māori language did in fact survive (perhaps miraculously so) and it remains with us today.
All this history and creativity – first created, explained, and experienced in the Māori language – awaits real expression in Aotearoa today.
A language is a ‘lens’ through which our entire reality is experienced and understood, a ‘way’ of encountering the world around us.
The Māori language, therefore, provides us with a valuable lens, a distinctive way of ‘seeing’ our world – and the more we become familiar and fluent in the language and are exposed to the particular ways by which it describes life, the more this ‘lens’ becomes a part of us, changing us, transforming us and our world in important ways.
The Māori language, therefore, represents a deep and profound opportunity to our country – a vitally important contributor to the process by which we as a nation can find own distinctive voice, our own way of thinking, articulating and being in this world.
[i] C. Scott Littleton writes: ‘Thus, language, or, more properly, the logic embedded in language, is by definition a prime factor in achieving an agreement as to the nature of the world. And as languages and their attendant logics differ substantially in time and space, it is impossible to understand the nature of a given ‘agreement’ without reference to the structure of the language spoken by those who share it.’ Introduction Lucien Levy-Bruhl: 'How Natives Think', Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey , 1985, p. xxix.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mātauranga Māori and moving into new workspaces

MM recognises that workplaces are not just physical - rather they are spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social spaces.

The goal is to create the best circumstances whereby people can do their best work.

According to mm, attention needs to be paid to the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social dimensions of the space so that the best circumstances are achieved.

(This is what is meant by 'one has to use the right kete for the right contents' or 'the tikanga/kawa for one house is not right for another'.)

There are a number of ways of achieving this:
  • clarity of kaupapa (attention paid to the name of the space, communicates kaupapa and intention)
  • Clarity concerning who is the space for? (Hence the question 'mō wai tēnei whare? in karakia for opening a whare)
  • Placing of a mauri stone is about intentions and setting the energy conditions for the intentions to be achieved
  • Opening blessing is about directly addressing the physical structure as the site or vessels in which the intended mana is planned to flow (mana used here to mean the authority and creativity of the group using the space)
  • Ongoing hui is about continually revisiting kaupapa, intentions and who the building is for - this is done in regular mihi each time visitors come, meetings are held etc to keep the fundamental kaupapa alive.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Peak Experience by Abraham Maslow

'A peak experience is a moment accompanied by a euphoric mental state often achieved by self-actualizing individuals. The concept was originally developed by Abraham Maslow in 1964, who describes peak experiences as "rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter."[ There are several unique characteristics of a peak experience, but each element is perceived together in a holistic manner that creates the moment of reaching one’s full potential. Peak experiences can range from simple activities to intense events; however, it is not necessarily about what the activity is, but the ecstatic, blissful feeling that is being experienced during it.'


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Insulting column by Bob Jones

Far out Bob Jones is insulting! The idea that any gains or improvements that Māori have made since the 19th century are entirely as a result of Pākehā generosity is ignorant. And the idea that Māori exist today because of their Pākehā whakapapa (when clearly both is the case) is offensive. 

The old hackneyed argument that ‘there are no pure Māori in the world today’ is used (yet again) here by Jones as the reason why Māori ought to feel grateful to Pākehā. We only exist because of Pākehā - a view also promulgated by Hobson’s Choice. 

This is deeply offensive as - we can infer from Jones's comments - that he believes there is nothing of value to be found in a person’s Māori identity, history, culture and experience. The only thing of value, that modern Māori ought to be grateful for, is what the Pākehā world has given him/her - language, culture, values, prosperity, their very existence.

I really hate this kind of veiled (and not so veiled) racism because as I respond to it, I see that my words may make me look like I’m jumping to the defence of my Māori identity and that I do not value my Pākehā identity. I want to make clear - I am not like Bob Jones. I love my Māori and Pākehā identity equally, I love both sides of my family equally. There are things about the Māori world which I love and there are things in the Māori world which drive me nuts. Equally, there are things about the Pākehā world I adore and there are things that are infuriating!

I find it remarkable when wealthy, privileged people (like Jones) feel upset about the world, that they are somehow ‘hard done by’, that the world is not going as they would wish. Given their wealth, their privilege, their enormous and numerous opportunities to influence the world, I find it remarkable that they think they are the victim somehow.

Finally, I have never understood the 'there are no pure Māori in the world anymore' argument. I find it amusing that those who continue to assert this view feel that they have some kind of 'trump card' which successfully invalidates  Māori initiatives, such as Treaty of Waitangi claims. The fact that my Mum is Pākehā (and who I love very much) does not erase the fact that I am also a descendant of Marutūahu, of Tamaterā and Whanaunga, of Raukawa, of Ngā Puhi etc, that I am a product of that heritage just as much as I am a product of my mother's heritage (I am named after my French great-grandfather). 

PS Dear Bob - I saw that your response to the criticism was to say that you intended your column to be regarded as satire and that people are too sensitive, they take offence too easily. Well Bob, a key ingredient of satire, I am sure you are aware, is humour. Satire is usually clever too and I have to say that I didn't find your column funny or clever. I suspect that you didn't either.

See here: