Harmony and Māori words

As Māori is used more the debate over how much it should be taught in schools and spoken on radio grows.

Māori words have always been used, as many place names are Māori. However the language was deliberately suppressed in an ill advised education system.

The language is making a bit of a revival, with some enthusiastic supporters and promoters, but some colonial traditionalists are trying to dig their white toes in.

Kate Fryberg: Harmony and the case for Māori wards

And the voice which most needs to be heard, the key note of our harmony here in Aotearoa New Zealand, is the voice of Māori. Why? To extend the metaphor, the first human voices in this land were those of Tangata Whenua.

It is Māori heritage and culture which makes this country unique – as many of us Pākehā travellers have discovered when asked to “sing a song from your country” and we find ourselves limping through a half-remembered version of Pōkarekare Ana.

Singing that a bit is one of my few memories of Māori at school.

More importantly, it is thanks to the Treaty of Waitangi that we non-Māori have the opportunity to live here. We have been invited to add our voices to the original songs.

We non-Māori, including we Pākehā.

The term Pākehā has had some bad vibes for some, but when I investigated i found that the term refereed to “the soft and loud sounds of the language of Captain Cook and his sailors” load see The soft and loud of “Pākehā”.

I am quite comfortable with being referred to as Pākehā, even though I do more soft than loud.

I have no problem with more Māori being taught in schools – in my time it was disgracefully ignored, along with important New Zealand history.

I don’t mind some use of Māori  in media, but i think that some of it is overdone. Good on RNZ for using the native language more, but for me it is sometimes overdone and I switch off.

It is probably near impossible to get the right balance for everyone. Younger people in particular who have had the opportunity to learn some Māori will benefit from it’s wider use. It’s not about me and my history, it’s about the future of New Zealand, of Aotearoa (a name I would be happy to use if it became official).

Bits of Māori speech in Parliament is lost on me but it’s probably no worse than the vast vapid verbiage used there.

I cringe when listening to our God laced dirge of a national anthem, but it is far more tolerable listening to the Māori  version.

We have a unique history which has a strong Māori flavour, and that should be a part of our identity, and it should be something we can be proud of.

Māori can certainly be a harmonious language when at it’s best (it’s use in hakas is not at it’s best). The world won’t end, the sky won’t fall in, and the long white cloud won’t evaporate if we hear some more of it.

We can live in harmony as a multi-lingual society if we try.

 

38 Comments

  1. Māori should be compulsory, but I feel to make it so it needs to be a core function of teacher training. There are simply not enough teachers out there with registration that are fluent. A great many of the “unregistered” teachers in the Charter system were actually Te Reo and general Māori tikanga facilitators. I am acquainted with a couple of European NZers who speak fluently, but as they’re not teachers, under Labour’s rules they’ll be unable to teach within the state system.

    I’m very proud to say that at Kings College Māori has been compulsory for all Year Nine students since 2010 and that many choose to pursue it further in the curriculum. Yes, the school has the fiscal resources but as a private school they’re able to employ unregistered teachers to achieve this end.

    Māori will need to be an integral part of the syllabus with ALL teachers at primary level being able to teach Te Reo before the word compulsory can enter into the conversation.

    I have never understood people who rave about kids needing to concentrate on core basics.
    Anyone who has raised children in a foreign country or bi -tri lingual household will tell you how very simple learning multiple languages is to children. To those Non-Māori who feel intimidated and threatened, can I say that no power is “handed to Māori”, on the contrary learning Te Reo demystifies tikanga and Te Reo, democratises and ultimately empowers us all.

    • Gezza

       /  May 11, 2018

      Well said, so very true. Tautoko that.

    • sorethumb

       /  May 11, 2018

      I find it hard to believe that school is the same as growing up in a home environment (not to mention opportunity cost – Mandarin/Nihongo).
      Do you want children to understand tikanga and learn to be skeptical?

      • Gezza

         /  May 11, 2018

        I don’t particularly mind. There are aspects of mythical & superstitious & religious beliefs which will possibly cause argy bargy if they are expected to be treated as true – but the language & general customs & courtesies shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Gerrit

       /  May 11, 2018

      You may want Maori to be compulsorily taught, what you cant predict, as an end result, is that the kids will want to learn or even use the language.

      One could imagine a lot of bored kids looking out the classroom windows wishing they were elsewhere.

      Teaching and retention are two different matters.

      Another problem will be teaching of the Maori version of pre and post colonial events that will get woven into teaching Te Reo.

      Will the facts be presented or a rosy non cannibalistic version of history?

      • If and when NZ becomes a truly bilingual society, we will switch effortlessly between English and Te Reo. You know what it’s like when you’re with other people and you both have a different native language but you both speak each other’s language? The transition is effortless. Not difficult.

        We’re a long way off worrying about that though. We’ve got to have a situation where it is first compulsory for all Teacher Trainees to be of a certain fluency. I’m thinking pigs might fly as far as any serious govt initiative though.

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  May 11, 2018

      Yeah, nah. Maori is of zero use to me or my family. ZERO.

      English is a global language and has vast utility as a means of communication with many people, from many lands.

      Offer Maori by all means, let people opt in.

      Want Maori as your primary language day to day fine – go for it..I won’t be able to understand you but its your choice…

      Primary language in a learning scenario like school? Well go to a Maori immersion school there are plenty of them.

      But compulsion – you can keep that.

      I prefer my kids and their kids focus on learning to learn and basic core skills like Reading, Writing and Math

  2. sorethumb

     /  May 11, 2018

    You’re confusing suppressed and revived. It is being pushed into a non speaking/non interested public space – is that “suppressed”?

  3. Corky

     /  May 11, 2018

    Maori shouldn’t be compulsory. Why? Because take away funding and the political push to make it compulsory, and the language dies overnight. That’s because many Maori aren’t interested in their culture, apart from learning enough to get them through and show other Maori they are the ‘real deal.’

    What should be compulsory is pronouncing Maori place names correctly. I get sick of hearing about: Paraparam,Towlpo, Teakawhacka Towlronga and Rotaruea. Try telling these people the correct pronunciation and two replies I constantly get are: ‘no one will know what I’m talking about.’ Or, ‘ that’s a bit of a mouthful.

    To be fair, that attitude is slowly changing for the better.

    • Gezza

       /  May 11, 2018

      That’s a case of teaching the Maori alphabet, or at least the Maori vowels. After 1 day of Latin Maori was easy. Anyone who’s learnt one of the Latin offshoots (Spanish, Italian eg) has no probs there. As an English speaker I kept stressing a syllable somewhere until I was told there is no stress on syllables in Maori. After that pronunciation was pretty easy except where the word’s a horribly long one & takes a good scan before you attempt to pronounce each sound in it.

    • sorethumb

       /  May 11, 2018

      Why should correct pronunciation trump common usage?

      • Gezza

         /  May 11, 2018

        Well if you get the opportunidy to pronounce a language correctly shouldn’t that be a prioridy? Qualidy, not quanidy. We should be suppording the idea of correct pronunciation of language including our own, in my opinion. Showing some responsibilidy and maturidy (or sumpthink like that). I don’t think it should just be anythink goes, and I feel sure our Pry Minisda would agree.

  4. sorethumb

     /  May 11, 2018

    Bottom line

    Asians are overtaking Maori (multiculturalism overtake biculturalism) therefor Maori identity need strengthening as a token compensation for all the down sides (housing 50; seater buses going to the crab fisheries on northern beaches).

    Tod Niall
    You mentioned Pacifica. Is that going to be a challenge for Auckland: the place of Pacifica and the place of Maori in an increasingly diverse society.

    Julie Zhu
    I don’t want to conflate the two. I think for me what is more significant about the next 38 days or the next few years whenever it happens is not the point where Pakeha become a minority but the point whenre Asians overtake Maori as the next biggest minority. I think that’s very significant for the implications that could have for Maori bicultural kind of state. Apparently we don’t sown the foundations for people to understand why the Treaty of Waitangi is so important why the role of tangata whenua here is so important. And i think that will get invalidated even more as theyre overtaken by a different minority.

    Tod Niall
    Because I would argue it has taken Maori a long time to get to a place where they are not yet where they feel they should be.

    Is there a new dynamic here that we have to worry about Paul?

    Paul Spoonley
    Well there is and I mean, in terms of Auckland it has already happened. So the Asian community is considerably larger than the Maori community of Auckland and yet Auckland is the largest Maori community in the country. So I think Auckland is the test case or laboritory in which we get to play around and decide how we do politics and in this case recognition of diversity and we started to day by talking about the council and the wards you know we are far from getting that right so we need to ask the question right around the community “are there difference between people who are tangatawhenua in terms of recognition as opposed to those who are immigrants and their decendants?” My answer is yes! I mean I think the conversation should be a very different conversation. And so i react quite strongly and quite negatively when people say , you know, there’s me, Im Pakeha and there’s others who are diffferent. No there are not they are not all the same.

    Julie Zhu
    “but that kind of positioning sort of positioning of Pakeha and everyone else. I always try to think of the ideal as Maori and everyone else because Maori are kind of the only unique aspect of NZ that really needs to be upheld if we are to move forward and I think there just needs to be solidarity.”
    https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/outspoken/audio/2018628359/outspoken-auckland-issues

    • PartisanZ

       /  May 12, 2018

      Can’t imagine why you see biculturalism and multiculturalism as an EITHER/OR issue? There doesn’t need to be an “overtaking” of one by the other … We can only have both and will continue to have both.

      Why?

      Simple: Te Tiriti o Waitangi founded the nation as bicultural or possibly binational. Hapu iwi Maori and The Crown … British … Pakeha …

      Immigration combined with ethnic identification leads inevitably to multiculturalism, which, in Aotearoa New Zealand, inevitably exists in a bicultural ‘medium’ …

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 11, 2018

    IMO, making Maori compulsory is just posturing. Yes, NZ history should be compulsory but you don’t need to live it to learn it. Kiwis will pick up whatever Maori is necessary and relevant for their lives without making it compulsory, just as they have always done since the first Pakeha Maori and sailors and sealers and whalers arrived here.

    The rest is just PC virtue signalling.

    • Never got how that many think learning Te Reo would be in any way disempowering?

      There’s nothing but a slam dunk for skeptics and bigots alike. On the other hand, it’d be rather disempowering to those who have the elite language, i.e., they no longer hold the only set of keys to the treasure thats the entire mysterious industry that is The First People, yada,yada.

      As I said – a profound demystifier.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  May 11, 2018

        If you can’t figure out that making something compulsory is disempowering I can’t help you.

        The “elite language” is simply whatever works in the culture and subculture you live in. It will probably be a natural mix of whatever language cultures comprise your environment. In my case that includes English, Maori, Afrikaans and German. Yours may differ.

      • sorethumb

         /  May 11, 2018

        There’s nothing but a slam dunk for skeptics and bigots alike.
        …..
        Ad hominem

      • sorethumb

         /  May 11, 2018

        On the other hand, it’d be rather disempowering to those who have the elite language, i.e., they no longer hold the only set of keys to the treasure thats the entire mysterious industry that is The First People, yada,yada.
        …..
        pardon?

        • PartisanZ

           /  May 11, 2018

          What traveller’s saying is that whether te reo is compulsory or not, Maori are disempowered …

          • sorethumb

             /  May 11, 2018

            The world caught up with them

            • PartisanZ

               /  May 12, 2018

              Nope … the world has just recently started trying to catch up …

  6. sorethumb

     /  May 11, 2018

    I was sitting in a pōwhiri, waiting for the manuhiri, when I started chatting with the young girl who was next to me. She looked to be about seven or eight years old. A beautiful young girl with dark brown hair and large eyes.

    We started talking about kapa haka as we waited. And then, for some reason, we got on to the subject of Pākehā. I can’t recall why. But I do vividly remember her expression changing.

    “I hate the Pākehās,” she said.
    https://e-tangata.co.nz/news/my-mother-is-pakeha-and-i-love-her

    that’s what haters and wreckers have done

    • sorethumb

       /  May 11, 2018

      And the thing is how did that come about?
      One school of thought is we stole from Maori and we cut a deal [Gareth Morgan, Consedine]
      Another school of though is that Maori were “natives” (primitive peoples) with a culture Europeans had a few thousand years back and we walked in. We introduced agriculture it’s plants, animals and techniques and increased the carrying capacity x 400.
      Either way there are 4.5m people with a stake in this country and a minority who as tangata whenua think they are owed “x”. “X” is as long as a piece of string. If we settle for “x” how do we know what sort of the deal we got. Willie Jackson talked in the $billions.

      • sorethumb

         /  May 11, 2018

        Culture in and of itself isn’t what matters. Culture is important in so far as it defines our identity (any culture will do). When Maori finds it’s way into Morning Report it defiles our own sense of collective consciousness. Unless it has become part of the lexicon it is like raw sewage. Espiner and co are thinking we will get used to it and the government advisers are asses raised on an ideology of tabula rasa, in humanities (which should be closed down – or at least face scrutiny)

  7. sorethumb

     /  May 11, 2018

    Michael King
    One of the features that has always characterised the writing of history is an impulse to restore balance after an interval of perceived imbalance. Hence, like the workings of a clock, the forward motion of history is often generated by pendulum swings. And the examples of imbalance which I have offered are themselves the consequence of previous imbalances: Salmond’s against a former inability or unwillingness to perceive the process of cultural encounter from Maori perspectives; Belich’s against a tradition of military history that was both racially arrogant and culturally chauvinistic; and Clunie’s against a literature on missionary endeavour whose major distinguishing characteristic was filial piety.
    Having noted that, however, I would go on to say that the kinds of history that portray Maori as acting only with nobility, and Pakeha acting only with malice and self-interest, are as patronising and as offensive as an earlier generation of historical narratives which either ignored the Maori role in the national equation or wrote off Maori strategies as the ineffective antics of a savage people. Idealisation of Maori behaviour also builds up a paradigm in which it becomes difficult to accommodate other episodes in New Zealand history, such as the periodic cruelty of Maori to other Maori. Ultimately, historians have a responsibility to reflect all the variegations of human behaviour in these islands, to follow evidence wherever it leads, and not to write narratives that simply caricature one side or another.
    http://www.sof.org.nz/origins.htm

    • Gezza

       /  May 11, 2018

      He gets that right.

      • PartisanZ

         /  May 11, 2018

        Nope … He gets it ‘Right’ …

        Where is the evidence of academic “idealisation” of Maori behaviour …?

        • sorethumb

           /  May 11, 2018

          In that article above the quote

    • PartisanZ

       /  May 11, 2018

      There’s considerable danger in getting all your information from one bias confirming source.

      King is described as “a popular historian, author and biographer” … Popular … Populist?

      “He believed that all Pākehā had the same right to be called indigenous as Māori and disagreed with claims that only Māori have a spiritual association with mountains, lakes and rivers.

      He noted a recent tendency in literature to romanticise Māori life and indicated that certain aspects of Māori society in the pre-European era were harsher and less humane than the results of British colonisation.” – Wikipedia

      Telling statements both. Indigenous means: “originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.” Synonyms include “native, aboriginal, local; original, earliest, first, initial; ancient, primitive …”

      I think it most unlikely that Maori claim they are the only ones who possess a spiritual association with mountains, lakes and rivers.

      They’re the only ones who have a Maori spiritual association with them …

      And certain aspects of Māori society in the pre-European era were harsher and less humane than the results of British colonisation from a British colonisers’ perspective … Yes. But to not point this out in describing pre-European Maori society is hardly “romanticizing” it.

      Perhaps its simply trying to see it from a pre-European perspective?

      Hence, despite his considerable impartiality and insight, Michael King has become a kind of NZ History ‘Jordan Peterson’, exploited by the likes of Hobson’s Pledge, the Alt-Right, Right Brigade et al, the Treaty deniers and “one people” assimilationists …

      • Griff

         /  May 11, 2018

        He noted a recent tendency in literature to romanticise Māori like “Maori spiritual association”

        The claim Maori have some sort of special relationship with NZ that can never be attained by anyone else is Racist Bullshite .

        The ideology underlying racist practices often includes the idea that humans can be subdivided into distinct groups that are different due to their social behavior and their innate capacities as well as the idea that they can be ranked as inferior or superior.

        Personally I have more knowledge about, have seen more of ,spend more time in touch with, devote far more effort to, this nation’s natural heritage than 99.9% of Maori.
        This is part of my core values anyone who knows me is aware of this and how much it motivates me.
        I have yet to meet a single Maori that can say the same.

        • PDB

           /  May 11, 2018

          Griff: “Personally I have more knowledge about, have seen more of ,spend more time in touch with, devote far more effort to, this nation’s natural heritage than 99.9% of Maori. This is part of my core values anyone who knows me is aware of this and how much it motivates me.”

          And I thought your true loves were the sound of your own voice & abusing people who don’t agree with you……go figure?

        • sorethumb

           /  May 11, 2018

          Likely untrue due to evolution. We evolved in a natural environment.

          An important choice for a mobile organism is selecting a good habitat to live in. Humans are argued to have strong aesthetical preferences for landscapes which were good habitats in the ancestral environment. When young human children from different nations are asked to select which landscape they prefer, from a selection of standardized landscape photographs, there is a strong preference for savannas with trees. The East African savanna is the ancestral environment in which much of human evolution is argued to have taken place. There is also a preference for landscapes with water, with both open and wooded areas, with trees with branches at a suitable height for climbing and taking foods, with features encouraging exploration such as a path or river curving out of view, with seen or implied game animals, and with some clouds. These are all features that are often featured in calendar art and in the design of public parks.

        • PartisanZ

           /  May 12, 2018

          I wasn’t claiming Maori have a “special” relationship with the environment or with Aotearoa New Zealand …

          I was claiming that Maori have a Maori relationship with them … which Pakeha don’t have … and can’t have …

          Seems nearly everyone wants this type of situation to be ‘racist’ when all it is is racial difference.

          We can all have ‘personal’ special relationships with Aotearoa NZ … I do.

      • Gezza

         /  May 11, 2018

        I don’t get all my information from one source. I accept the basic premise he gets to in there that there are some historians or folk who prefer them who adopt the default view that basically all Maori were essentially savages who agreed to be civilised by Europeans and other extremists who adopt the default view that all Europeans were basically colonising destroyers who brought nothing of any value at all to a highly advanced & civilised native population which ignores that they were separate nations which sometimes warred with each other & were not Geneva Convention-types about the aftermath.

        There is no one single history of NZ & there are many perspectives. I don’t automatically agree with anyone’s idealised version of our history. I look for what seems to be true from what we know from both sides and accept that every side tells history their own way, thru their own lenses or the ones they choose to adopt.

        With the advent of the internet and better availability of information about the land wars and iwi histories becoming more available than ever before it is up to people to walk their own way thru what they want to think. In my case, I often see two versions of events and often tend to favour the Maori perspective of what happened and why.

        Parihaka is near where I come from and I firmly support the Settlement and the Crown apology. It was a disgrace to our ancestors. My grandfather was a young constable of Irish parents and among the party sent to arrest Rua. To his dying day he blamed the Police Commissioner for the events which occurred.