Saturday, 10 May 2014

Tapu: Part Two

Here's a brief overview of the points that will be covered in this post..  your learning intentions if you like...

Covered so far and therefore task Completed: 
- Why it's tapu for a girl to do a haka on a boat. And why whakapapa is tapu too. See previous post... here.

This pou (post/pole.. pun intended):
- Why doing the haka is not acceptable when you've been to NZ and seen someone else do it

I live in the tourist capital of NZ. Everyday I see bus loads of tourists being carted off to different Maori cultural experiences. While sharing our culture is great... sometimes I feel like we don't own it appropriately by making money off of it or by allowing others who don't know the significance behind it to perform it.

Part of this issue is our national rugby team who we all love. In .... the All Blacks began using the Ka Mate haka. Eventually it became a phenomenon. We would be expected to see it performed at every rugby match from then on. To this day our sports teams do the haka. And while that's great and all... sometimes it feels overused.

Another part of the issue is that many people who do the haka don't know what it means. They don't know the language behind it and as such nor the significance. I suppose in this way it is an Indigineous Peoples issue. People misusing our cultural relevance.

The haka was used traditionally to scare off other foe who were going to fight you. If you did a fierce enough haka - Ka Mate literally means To Die in the future tense - then the other band of warriors would run off and not come back because they knew you would beat them and by that I mean wound, kill and raid your marae if needed - because of utu (revenge) etc.

By doing it in a rugby game this kind of makes sense because you're telling the opposing team - watch out, we're strong - and we think, nay, we know we'll win.

Alot of school teams do this as well before a game to size each other up and get a better view of the mana and guts of your opponents.

However - and this is entirely my own opinion - I think that we've gotten to a point where we are using the haka for show. It has lost its true meaning and strength. Those All Blacks haven't lost that kaha but the symbolism for me has definitely gone. At least when used in rugby and sports.

This leads me in to a nice place to discuss the misuse of cultural intellectual property.

Cultural intellectual property is defined as.... 'the physical constituents of the cultural heritage of a group or society.'

In NZ it could encompass a range of things - alot of which personally annoy me when used by those who are not Maori or who are not from NZ:
- Ta Moko 
- Haka
- waiata
- te reo maori
- use of pounamu and bone
- knowledge and use of carving the above taonga - particularly for selling to others (am thinking more about Chinese jade necklaces with Maori symbols and designs being sold in certain big red shops)
- whaikorero
- branding of things maori
- whakapapa
- hangi and other food styles and preperation
- cultural arts and weapons
- weaving with harakeke (flax)
- Etc.......

Okay.. this is not to say we shouldn't share our culture ... because we should. Maori culture is inclusive... and where its not perhaps its slightly tapu.

Recently a certain music festival was made to retract an advertisement for their upcoming fest in the summer. It had portrayed two girls dressed as Native Americans.

When did it occur to them that just because it wasn't two girls dressed in piupiu (flax skirts) holding poi... it doesn't mean what they did wasn't racist. Perhaps once they had pushed their advertising and got alot of negative feedback.

And then there is the video of Beyonce and Stan Walker and his crew where they honour her in their haka. 

Beyonce and Stan Walker Perform The Haka with the…:

After everything I've said about the respect people should give the haka in particular, you may think that I dislike Queen B doing hers in response. However, there are times, like those where its okay because she's being honourable and has obviously felt the crew's wehi and ihi... it shows on her face.

A good haka where it is respectful and used appropriately should bring you to tears because you feel the passion, the wairua (spirit) and the intense physical demand of being part of a haka.

A bad haka.. and I hate to put it in such simplified bad/good terms... to me is simply one that has no honour. For examples done drunkenly by those who don't know the significance of it, or by those who do it to mock the maori culture.

When used appropriately, I say go hard. But be respectful because if it's not your culture or worse you are doing it to show off to someone something you saw once at a game or event etc... then think first.. who does this cultural aspect belong to... do I have a right to use it.. and am I using it respectfully.

At present there have been rumbles of discussion of cultural intellectual property misuse... in particular harking back to a certain car company who created an obscene ad where a group of emaciated models performed the haka.

Now I'm not a lawyer but I certainly believe there is a reason to create some type of law that defines what cultural intellectual property is and how Maori could use it to safeguard our culture.
Others may have differing views and thats okay too. :)

On with the journey...

Video to find to embed:
Maori tv matatini talk maori guy saying need to have reo in as part of comp and that if theyre doing the haka they should know what it means.

Two more posts. Next one is about:

Whakatauki o tenei pou - Proverb for this post:

Kua takoto te manuka
The leaves of the manuka tree have been laid down

This is a form of wero (challenge), that is preformed in very formal situations on the Marae. It is when you are challenged and you answer that challenge depending on how pick up the leaves. The wero is to see whether you come in peace or as an enemy. This proverb is used when being challenged, or you have a challenge ahead of you.

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