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Cultural Sabotage

Updated on January 4, 2015
A traditional Maori Warrior
A traditional Maori Warrior | Source

What Gives Anyone The Right?

Coming from a multi-cultural country, New Zealand, where the national languages include English, The Reo Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language, and a rich history which is not so much in the distant past but in the recent past, my own personal culture has incorporated pieces of the many cultures present in NZ. The cultures within NZ include NZ European (Pakeha), NZ Maori, as well as many Pacific Islands such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Europe - France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales,Russia, Asia - China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, to name just a few.

It's Starts with Discussion

A discussion a number of days ago with my colleagues has stuck within my mind. As all New Zealand children are taught - we are equal - we are all human. Maori were in NZ first, and are therefore the indigenous people of NZ. The European settlers come only just under 175yrs ago, and made their mark in several ways - both positive and negative. I work with a group of people who are a mixture of cultures - Chinese-Malay, NZ European, NZ Maori, Irish, English, South African, Canadian.

It was noted, in all the histories of the people whom I work with, that the settling of Europeans in the history of their countries, that the local, original people of the land, and their cultural identities, were pushed aside in favour of the European ways of live, language, culture. The Maori woman I work with's father remembers being strapped at school for speaking Te Reo Maori yet he knew nothing else as his parents only spoke Maori. Another colleague smiled, and said "They practiced on us. Perfected the technique then sent it around the world" - she was strapped for speaking Gaelic in school in Ireland.

New Zealand's Unique Culture

New Zealand is reasonably unique in the way it's indigenous people are treated. Many countries are mistreating of their indigenous people, due to the addictions and trouble that has come about after the introduction (by the European settlers) of items such as alcohol, smoking, gambling. I'm not saying that NZ doesn't have those problems - in it's indigenous population and it's NZ European population. But what we do have is a Treaty - signed Feb 6, 1840 between the Pakeha (NZ European) and the Maori Chiefs of the time about how they would be treated. Whilst for a number of years this did not happen, it is being recitified as we speak and has been for a number of years. Currently, it is preventing asset sales that the whole country do not want to happen (but the Government does) because the water running the power companies belongs to the Maori.

Te Reo Maori is a national language, and all signs are translated into both English and Maori. Maori cultural is a large part of NZ schooling, Cultural safety is a large part of healthcare professional training - of all cultures. We've apologised for the treatment of the Maori by our ancestors, over and over. Prime Minister of Australia for 11yrs, John Howard, refused for 11yrs to apologise to the Aboriginal people.

The Question is...

What I really wanted to discuss was - what gives anyone the right to push their culture on a group of people? What makes one race better than another? Nothing - we are all human.

This is coming from a Pakeha, a New Zealand European - my mother, father, grandmother x 2 and grandfather x1 are all New Zealanders - One Grandfather was an English migrant. So, it's not a "poor me" speech - I am not a member of a race that has been pushed to the side. But, I do not see myself as better than anyone else, of any race.

So why does anyone else?

I welcome any discussion.


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