February 23rd, 2012


Please don't eat children in my back yard guys.

I came across a tweet this morning:

Now, I had no idea what this installation was about, so I went and had a look. Turns out it's a room full of bubbles, the bubbles having been made using water that had also been used to wash dead bodies.

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Whether you subscribe to this view or not, whether you believe in these concepts and their ability to affect your life or not, there are a couple of things to keep in mind here. One is purely respect and politeness. The other is the fact that our country is bicultural (or aspires to be). This means that Maori culture has (or should have) equal standing to European culture, and the right to tino rangatiratanga is hardwired into our founding document. So if Maori culture says "Not on my turf sunshine", that is a right of the Treaty. This public gallery is as much Maori turf as pakeha, and Maori have the right to say whether offensive and potentially dangerous things may happen on their turf.

In my opinion, that should be the end of it. But I have no doubt it won't be. Because one of the hardest parts about bicultural aspirations is when values conflict. What's more important? Personally, I think that if we truly want to be bicultural, then the most important thing is respect. Let's have some.

[edit] Thanks to the skills of anna_en_route, an article's been found. Turns out that the main objection was the exhibition's proximity to the exhibition of a historic Maori pataka (food storage house). So yes, tapu and noa, but not in quite the way I'd envisaged. The article has now been updated with a statement from the iwi.

[edit the second] And here's the Stuff article. The comments serve two purposes - to illustrate my point about how few people grasp that there is more than one valid culture in NZ, and to make me embarrassed for my fellow countryfolk.