Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Colonisation and whakama

I have been slow to the party that is Archives New Zealand: they have been steadily uploading old clips, documentaries and short films to YouTube for the education, edification, and elucidation of Kiwis everywhere. This is an absolute taonga. We can see ourselves as we were, fifty, sixty, seventy years ago.

In watching archival footage reporting on Māori issues, however, I am whakamā. I am shamed. I am shamed by the lack of cultural understanding of even the most enlightened Pākehā reporters of the day. For example, the pronunciation of Te Reo Māori is poor, even when in the next sentence an Iwi member says the word correctly, the Pākehā reporter keeps mis-pronouncing the terms. The pluralisation of uncountable nouns is cringe-making.  But it is the lack of cultural competence and acceptance of the uniqueness of Māori tikanga that is hardest to bear. 

However, watching the footage is educative. Check the two videos below. Firstly, a film from 1974 about Tuhoe:

Secondly, seven years earlier, a clip about Okaio & Te Araroa migration to Auckland (1967):

These clips are a marker of Aotearoa today as a society: without being able to watch the past, we would not realise how far we have come. As Treaty partners, we Pākehā still "have promises to keep, And miles to go before [we] sleep" (Frost, 1923)... or perhaps, in a less colonising way, He mahi kai hōaka, he mahi kai tāngata ("just as work consumes sandstone, so it consumes people", or, worthwhile tasks take much hard work; Tikanga Māori, 2016).



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