Sunday, April 03, 2011

Maori - unrealistic standards?

As a result of someone pulling my leg over the Maori translation of Ministry of Women's Affairs I had a look at said website this morning. Surprising - or is it? - how much of it is devoted to Maori.

By sheer coincidence this month is the 100th anniversary of the first convention of the Māori branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) held at Pakipaki in 1911. Maori were enticed in their droves to sign up to a pledge promising not to smoke or drink. But I never knew about the third requisite.

Temperance Pledge

He whakaae tene naku kia kaua ahau e kai tupeka, e inu ranei I tetahi mea e haurangi ai te tangata, kia kaua hoki ahau e whakaae ki te ta moko. Ma te Atua ahau e awhina.


I agree by this pledge, not to smoke tobacco, not to drink any beverages that are intoxicating, and also not to take the ta moko. May God help me.

Ta moko has long interested me and I've painted many tattooed subjects. Countless women died of septicaemia as a result of the practice and one hundred years ago the process was painful, dangerous and barbaric. But that has been replaced with safe modern day techniques and I imagine the idea of bowing to a European/other culture request to forsake ta moko today would rightly be reviled.

But isn't there a hint of an analogy in there?

(Leaving aside tobacco) isn't the answer for leading a good life finding some middle ground or moderation or better way without total abandonment? For many Maori there seems to be only the high road or the low road. All or nothing. And I suppose the same must be said for some Pakeha. But there does seem a stronger delineation with Maori. "Churchies or crims" as I have heard one Maori friend remark about a family which ended up making the worst sort of headlines.

These concepts - good and bad - even make an appearance in public service contracts today:

Tapu/Noa Sacred/profane The recognition of the cultural means of social control envisaged in tapu and noa including its implications for practices in working with Maori Service Users.

Are Maori setting themselves unrealistic standards? And then, too often, failing spectacularly?


Redbaiter said...

Maori only really have one problem and that is white urban liberals inculcated with cultural Marxism.

Actually, those people are at the root of most of our problems, no matter who "we" are.

FF said...

Lovely work there Lindsay-well done.
Esp portrait two, very powerful.