Tuesday, 12 October 2010

On the inconvenience of periods and pregnancy

Cross posted

The New Zealand Herald contacted me yesterday, wanting a comment on this invitation being sent out by Te Papa (the New Zealand national museum).

Te Papa storeroom tours

A behind the scenes tour of Te Papa's collection stores and collection management systems
Te Papa, 10:30am- 2:30pm, Friday 5th November 2010
Places are limited to 7 people

A chance for Local regional museums to visit various Te Papa store rooms and meet the collection managers of:
- The Taonga Māori collection - Lisa Ward, Moana Parata, Noel Osborne
- Photography and new media - Anita Hogan
- Works on paper - Tony Mackle
- Textiles - Tania Walters

Conditions of the tour:
* No photographs are to be taken of the taonga, however some images can be made available.
* There is to be no kai (food or drink) taken into the collection rooms.
* Wahine who are either hapü (pregnant) or mate wähine (menstruating) are welcome to visit at another time that is convenient for them.
* We start our visits with karakia and invite our manuhiri to participate.

Who is it for?
- This tour is for representatives from small museums, art galleries, heritage organisations, the arts and cultural sector or iwi organisations.


(I've edited the layout and fonts and so on, to fit on the screen, and the emphasis is mine.)

The Herald reporter suggested that I might have something to say about the practice of excluding menstruating and pregnant women being sexist and archaic. However, I didn't. I sent back these three quotes.

It's fair enough to respect cultural protocols, but maybe Te Papa could say that, instead of their mealy-mouthed request for pregnant and menstruating women to come back at a time that "is convenient for them." I'm perfectly able to function when I've got my period or when I'm pregnant. It's far more inconvenient to have to make special arrangements to come back at another time.

I don't understand why a secular institution, funded by public money in a secular state, is imposing religious and cultural values on people. It's fair enough for people to engage in their own cultural practices where those practices don't harm others, but the state shouldn't be imposing those practices on other people.

It's up to Maori to work out if and how and when cultural practices should change for Maori, within the traditional freedoms of liberal democracies. If it is important to Maori people that pregnant and menstruating women aren't included in the tour, then maybe the tour shouldn't take place at all.


The story appeared in the New Zealand Herald this morning:

Anger at Te Papa ban on pregnant women

It's interesting to see which of my quotes was used in the story, and how it was used.

Stuff also has a story about the invitation. They contacted Boganette for comment.

Pregnant women warned off Te Papa tour

A reminder: we are individuals at The Hand Mirror, not a monolith. The views above are very much MY opinions, not views of The Hand Mirror.

94 comments:

Josh. said...

I actually agree with you on this 1.. they should have worded it better.

Perhaps suggest that they change it?

Adele said...

In 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. On the surface a great leap forward for the western tradition as women now had a ‘voice’ in the evolutionary progress of humankind.

However, beneath is a narrative of oppression of the indigenous woman which began from the moment the coloniser - the male and the female - disembarked all over her worldview. Western notions of feminism still reek of such hypocrisy – being still fed by its patriarchal roots.

Your comments simply perpetuate the thinking of the colonialist hell bent on neutering the savage. And in the tradition of the Patriarch, you would prefer that my worldview be relegated to a foodless kitchen, albeit this time - shoed, and sterilised. Puukana to that.

Boganette said...

I really liked your comments Deborah and I totally agree.

For me one of the main issues I have with all of this is that it's happening at Te Papa. My partner is Maori and when we go to the marae I honour the customs and beliefs there because it's THEIR PLACE. Te Papa however is meant to be OUR PLACE.

I also think taking your shoes off is different to excluding women from participating in something "for their own good".

I should point out though - when I was commenting on this issue I wasn't told women could come regardless of their cycle.

I am enjoying reading the comments on the Stuff piece though.

“So please, stop worrying your pretty little head about it. ”
“Lady, take a chill pill.”
“get off your high horse and start screaming about something that is actually worth screaming about”
“get over your self”
And my fave “stupid feminist blogger” x3 in one post.

Ummm did someone say Bingo?

Martha Craig said...

I think it was pretty clear in the original email that visiting or not wasn't optional depending on your beliefs, it was expected.

A Nonny Moose said...

Adele, you may be interested to research the concept of Womanism, which is feminism that has rejected the feminist label because of intersections of race, disability, class, sexuality etc. It is a concept very embracing of the concerns you have, and one which we all as feminists (with a little f) aspire to - it's just that the term Feminism (with the big F) has been demonized to stop just such inclusivity you bemoan it doesn't have.

Psycho Milt said...

Bingo alright - the journo can't even spell your name (well, pseudonym). I thought that was just a cliche.

Mkura said...

Ae ra! Tautoko Adele, kia kaha me te manawanui e te tuahine toa!

Deborah said...

With respect, Adele, I tried to make it clear in the quotes I gave to the Herald that it was up to Maori to determine what values and cultural practices Maori should hold and engage in. For example:

It's up to Maori to work out if and how and when cultural practices should change for Maori, within the traditional freedoms of liberal democracies.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so ignorant of the fact that this is an invitation by Te Papa, "Our Place" which means the WHOLE of New Zealand, and yes, that includes Maori people believe it or not, an invitation to respect the tikanga of the Maori people who make up part of "Our Place" and who provided the items that are to be viewed on this optional tour. I believe this is a wonderful thing, to extend such an invitation to women. If you can't respect that, then you are still welcome to take part, which is even more fantastic as your own beliefs are respected. The 'condition' is clearly aimed at those of us in NZ who do respect tikanga Maori, to give a 'heads-up' if you will. Te Papa deserve a lot of credit, and the media as well to some extent, for highlighting an important part of Maori culture, which is part of collective NZ culture as a whole. As a half-caste I thought this particular belief was common knowledge but obviously it is not, judging from the unwarranted backlash! But at least now it will be a bit better known - knowledge is power isn't it? No matter how small the tidbit!

s117 said...

Is it not unreasonable for Maori to impose their cultural beliefs on visitors to their cultural treasures? Te Papa is merely respecting Maori beliefs. Te Papa is caught between its treaty obligations as a public funded institution and the wishes of the some of the public. While there is a need for debate on some cultural practises of Maori, this is not the time. A fight between minority groups does not benefit either Maori or Feminists. Feminism would do well to pick its battles elsewhere.

Boganette said...

I do respect tikanga Maori. It's mighty simplistic to say I don't simply because I don't think a public museum should exclude women from a public exhibition for ANY reason. Note: ANY REASON.

I mean it's in quotes in the article "any reason".

Which is why I am outspoken about almost all religious/cultural groups that exclude/insult/oppress women.

If I say I don't support circumcision does that mean I don't respect the cultural groups that practice it?

And I'm not buying the idea that there is "no ban" when you're telling women that if they come to this event when they're pregnant or menstruating they're not showing respect to Maori.

James said...

Ahhhh the old bugbear of "public" ownership causes conflict yet again....this time betwwen two branchs of the PC....whom to back?....toss coin.

;-)

Mikaere Curtis said...

I do respect tikanga Maori. It's mighty simplistic to say I don't simply because I don't think a public museum should exclude women from a public exhibition for ANY reason. Note: ANY REASON.
Even if the reason is an explicit convenant attached to the loan of the taonga ? If so, then you are either advocating for Te Papa to negotiate the loan of taonga in bad faith, or you are saying that Te Papa should never display taonga.

Both of those positions seem quite extreme in the face of a cultural issue that can be resolved by forward planning.

s117 said...

Admittance to the general Te Papa, is as far as I know, still permitted no matter what the status of the visitor. The article deals with the admittance to a private collection, held by Te Papa, which is not on public display and is subject to the wishes of the unnamed owners (presumably a Maori iwi). It is reasonable to allow a private owner to set rules and for access to be denied if those rules are not followed. As I said, this is not a battle feminism should be having. Debate on the some sexist cultural practises of Maori is needed, not the denigration of a public museum for following protocol.

Boganette said...

"If so, then you are either advocating for Te Papa to negotiate the loan of taonga in bad faith, or you are saying that Te Papa should never display taonga."
- no. I'm saying Te Papa should have questioned whether they should have an exhibition that isn't open to everyone. I'm saying Te Papa should have said right from the get go that they're a public museum and EVERYONE regardless of their gender/race/sexuality/whatever should be able to see the exhibit.

"Both of those positions seem quite extreme in the face of a cultural issue that can be resolved by forward planning."

- forward planning? I wasn't aware the exhibition was running for a full year? How can a pregnant woman plan on seeing it? Will it still be running when she's had her child?

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Boganette

If you truly respected tikanga Maaori than you simply wouldn't be expressing such comments.

Sleeping with a Maaori doesn't necessarily infer greater insight into the culture nor does it give you the right to confine its parameters to a few metres of dirt. Think Aotearoa.

Boganette said...

S117 - It's singling out menstruating and pregnant women and excluding them. It's really that simple. Cultural and religious beliefs are often sexist. We need to challenge sexist beliefs wherever they are. You don't get to just say it's about following protocol and therefore it's acceptable. A public museum that is paid for by women does not get to exclude women for ANY reason - hence the reason why Te Papa is getting heat from me.

Boganette said...

Adele - I do more than sleep with my partner and have never claimed being with him gives me any insight whatsoever.

But then if it's easier for you to just label me a racist instead of addressing the problems you have with what I've said then so be it.

A Nonny Moose said...

Adele, I find that horrible and unwelcoming to your culture that you would a) slut shame B for "sleeping with" Maori, therefore she has no right to a relationship b) resist questioning, debate and discussion about beliefs and rules that have roots in sexist history.

Why, when advocating understanding of the culture, you would push people away from it like this?

Mikaere Curtis said...

- forward planning? I wasn't aware the exhibition was running for a full year? How can a pregnant woman plan on seeing it? Will it still be running when she's had her child?

I think it would be reasonable for Te Papa to negotiate terms that enable everyone the opportunity to visit an exhibition, perhaps taking into consideration the entire exhibition tour. If they haven't considered this, then perhaps they should have.

no. I'm saying Te Papa should have questioned whether they should have an exhibition that isn't open to everyone.

They do this routinely - they often have exhibitions where your ability to view it is predicated on your capacity to pay the entry fee.

Scuba Nurse said...

Before we all get too mean and scratchy at each other...
Can I just clarify?
The Exhibition is open to ALL public.
ALL.
However, the qualified academics who have been invited to a preview tour are held to traditional standards?
Is this correct?
If so, then I can understand the frustration.
Technically anyone can come and see, and degrade the objects or put themselves at risk by entering the exhibition space once open.
We cannot expect the female academics not from Maori culture to tolerate being excluded when no-one else is!

I also found it very odd that no other states of Tapu are mentioned...
My understanding (and please, please correct me if I’m incorrect) is that it is often when the link between the spirit and physical world is at its strongest, people are often tapu.
E.g. When a woman is carrying a child or when someone has been tending the dead or sick.
So why only mention those states of Tapu linked with womanhood, and why only hold these standards to a small group of academics?

Deborah said...

I'm going to be out for an hour or thereabouts, so I can't keep an eye on the thread. I wonder, could we just retreat a little from the personal comments? This is a hugely vexed and difficult issue, and it would be good keep the words of our disagreements polite. NB: I'm not saying don't express anger or frustration or other emotions, but could everyone please be respectful of the people on the other end of the computer.

s117 said...

Yes, any action by a public institution should be held to account if it is either sexist or racist. That's the problem here. If Te Papa lets tapu women attend, then they disregard the cultural beliefs of Maori. If they don't let women attend, then Te Papa acts in a sexist manner. If they don't show the exhibition, then they are acting against their mandate. Te Papa is between a rock and a hard place.There is no metaphorical high ground either, for feminists to argue from here, and therefore I believe this is not an argument we should be having, at least not directly against Te Papa.

Scuba Nurse said...

Again, it IS a problem because it is only a small group, not everyone being held to these standards, and the only states of Tapu they are adressing are those relating to women.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Nonny Moose

In respect, why introduce her partnership status into the discussion if not to add credence to her points of view.

In terms of a Maaori debating style do not bring food to the table and not expect to have it chewed upon.

That you have yet to learn the rudiments of the culture despite 170 years or thereabouts since the Treaty was signed is something for Paakeha to address, why make it our problem, we are far too busy simply to trying to exist as indigenous peoples.

Scuba Nurse said...

Adele thanks for contributing.
can you clarify the main points of Tapu?

I realise that you have already addressed that we should know but clearly we dont understand why Women's states of tapu make them more vulnerable than any other.
I hear your frustration;
"That you have yet to learn the rudiments of the culture despite 170 years or thereabouts since the Treaty was signed is something for Paakeha to address, why make it our problem, we are far too busy simply to trying to exist as indigenous peoples."
But we are genuinely interested, want to learn, and you came to this page, so perhaps we can learn from each other?
Thanks for any help you cann give specific to the topic.

Scuba Nurse said...

Adele thanks for contributing.
can you clarify the main points of Tapu?

I realise that you have already addressed that we should know but clearly we dont understand why Women's states of tapu make them more vulnerable than any other.
I hear your frustration;
"That you have yet to learn the rudiments of the culture despite 170 years or thereabouts since the Treaty was signed is something for Paakeha to address, why make it our problem, we are far too busy simply to trying to exist as indigenous peoples."
But we are genuinely interested, want to learn, and you came to this page, so perhaps we can learn from each other?
Thanks for any help you cann give specific to the topic.

Craig Ranapia said...

Mikaere Curtis said...
Even if the reason is an explicit convenant attached to the loan of the taonga ? If so, then you are either advocating for Te Papa to negotiate the loan of taonga in bad faith, or you are saying that Te Papa should never display taonga.

Well, there is a third option. Do not accept this kind of condition on a gift/loan in the first place.

Is it not unreasonable for Maori to impose their cultural beliefs on visitors to their cultural treasures?

First, please do treat Maori as some Borg Collective who think the same about things like this. I am Maori and have enormous respect for my cultural heritage. Doesn't mean I have to stand mute and accept profoundly reactionary sexism, gynophobia and downright misogyny from Maoridom any more than I passively accept it from my taha Pakeha or my church.

A Nonny Moose said...

Argh, I just realized I fell into old debating habits, that I made myself try to kick once I started reading up on Womanism and race/ethnicity. Sorry Adele, you're right it's not your "job" to have to teach us.

What I do ask, to move the discussion forward, is that we discuss that beliefs (whether they are of a culture or religion) need to be brought into the 21st century. "Traditional" does not always equal "right".

And I do have an understanding of Maori culture, since I am a New Zealander and I was brought up on it at school. Dismissing a Pakeha making a good faith effort because of the bad attitudes of others is not fair.

Also, Women and Maori women are not some monolithic creature. There will be descent amongst all of them as how to handle and view this issue.

Boganette said...

Ok Adele you got me - Eight years ago when I met my partner in a bar I knew that eventually I would become a "feminist blogger" and Te Papa would pull this ridiculous move that is completely sexist and I would need to say "my partner is Maori" on a feminist blog so that I didn't come across as racist.

You are just one smart cookie to catch me out on that one. Apologies to all. And please don't tell Mr Boganette - he might get a wee bit pissed off.

Paul said...

The objects should not have been accepted by Te Papa under conditions that discriminate against women and thereby are contrary to the Human Rights Act. All public institutions are required to operate within the terms of the Act.

Scuba Nurse said...

bahahaha! the borg collective! Ace.
I disagree in a way Anonnymoose... I get where you are coming from,with not having to teach. but how else do we learn other perspectives without asking and learning from each other. she shouldnt have to teach those not interested, but if we clearly are interested?

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Scuba

Tapu at its most basic level means respect. Women are most vulnerable when they are menstruating and when they are pregnant. Tapu respects that vulnerability by creating a separation from harmful elements.

From my understanding some of the taonga were used in warfare and have shed life, therefore the possibility is that they contain harmful elements.

If people find this situation strange or laughable compare it to the practise of now burning down homes that have witnessed murder.

K said...

Adele - would it not have been fair to email a warning with the invitation stating that some Maori believe in Tapu and believe pregnant/menstruating women could be harmed by the exhibits? Why tell those women not to come at all if it's only a belief held by some Maori? Why exclude women who obviously wouldn't believe in tapu? If you're not religious you can still enter a church.

Scuba Nurse said...

We have a blessing on an area and staff when someone dies in the hospital, does that mean that those who work with the dying (eg in a hospice) should also be tapu in realation to this, I imagine they are working with our most vulnerable.
My concern is that it only seems to be feminine tapu that is targeted, and then only in some people (the general public wouldnt have even known about this had the media not broken the letter to the curators visiting).

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, K

I have to agree with other commentators in that if you cannot view taonga in the way that Maaori would like them viewed - cognisant of our cultural elements inclusive of tapu,and wairuatanga than perhaps you are undeserving of the privilege.

I would think any Museum in this country bereft of a Maaori presence will look decidedly monochromatic and barren.

K said...

So Maori who do not believe in tapu are not worthy of being able to view taonga? They have to have the seem beliefs you do to view their own artifacts?

Lucy said...

If people find this situation strange or laughable compare it to the practise of now burning down homes that have witnessed murder.

I find both customs equally strange, if it helps.

How it comes across to me is: if the argument was that the taonga would be harmed by the presence of pregnant or menstruating women, it would still be sexist, but I'd have slightly more respect for it as an argument - some Maori feel that the taonga will be harmed by your attendance, therefore it would be respectful to not attend.

However, as far as I can tell the argument is that the women may be harmed. In which case, surely it should be up to the women to decide whether they hold this belief and wish to stay away? In which case the warning might have been phrased rather differently?

(For clarity: I have been aware of this custom all my life. I just don't believe in following it.)

Lucy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giarne said...

I don't really know the subject of tapu particularly well but I hope I am right in saying that tapu is not resticted to woman and times of menstruation or pregnancy - there are so many ways and things that are tapu (sacred) or noa (ordinary) and it would be too long to list.

A couple I know about:
Weavers don't collect flax when menstruating or pregnant.
Things associated with your body and its functions (hair brush, clothing, toothbrush) are sacred and shouldn't come into contact with noa objects (tables, chairs, etc)
Similarily you don't sit on a table as it breaks its noa.
You don't wash people's clothing with tea towels/bath towels
You don't walk over people's legs (I can't recall the reaons at the moment)
Tohunga (skilled craftspeople) would not touch food while working on sacred crafts or perhaps while working on any piece of work - others would feed them so there wasn't 'cross-contamination"


Sorry if I have these a little skewiff, I'm racking my brain to remember a few. As you can see though, many of these refer to both sexes and are more "rules to live by" than ways of oppressing one group.

I'm of the view that Te Papa has had good reason and understands why this request has been made. As I understand it, they regularly communicate with advisors, or particular tribes about what is appropriate and I believe that we should respect that opinion of the tangata whenua.

It is not meant to offend women, they could have dealt with it differently and explained it perhaps so that there could be better understanding.

I am only coming to grips with many of these things, I do think its important that we attempt to respect each other and understand each other - this is why the debate is useful.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, K

Maaori not cognisant of the Maaori worldview or perhaps unknowing of the strength of their cultural identity would most likely share a Paakeha perspective in respect to the taonga.

They would view them merely as artefact - a thing stripped bare of substance and spirit.

They will certainly decry the sexism evident in Maaori practise and most likely will denounce the oppressive nature of the culture.

The sooner we all become like Paakeha the better things will be - yay, lets have Plasma TV.

Again, puukana to that.

Lucy said...

It is not meant to offend women,

Whether it is meant to offend women or not has zero bearing on whether it discriminates against them.

As you can see though, many of these refer to both sexes and are more "rules to live by" than ways of oppressing one group.

I don't think anyone is arguing that all applications of tapu/noa distinctions are inherently sexist. They are, however, arguing that the singling out of pregnant/menstruating women as the one group who should not visit the exhibition is.

Honestly: I have no time for anyone who argues that one week out of every four I shouldn't do certain things because it offends them. Whether it's tikanga Maori or not, it's singling out a quarter of my life as a restricted area. Because I'm a woman. The choice to avoid things due to one's own beliefs is one thing. The attempt to enforce those beliefs on others, based solely on their gender, is another entirely.

Craig Ranapia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Ranapia said...

The sooner we all become like Paakeha the better things will be - yay, lets have Plasma TV.

Again, puukana to that.


And who the hell said anything so stupid outside your imagination, Adele?

You'd really help your own case if you stopped man-splaining and man-trolling everyone else with a different point of view. I think I can do without the "privilege" of institutionalized gynophobia and its enablers, thanks, and if that makes me a "bad Maori" in your opinion? Whatever.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Lucy

As a woman operating under Paakeha notions of freedom you have every right to bleed whereever you like - just respect my right to not have to eat kaimoana tainted with your blood.

Why should Maaori give up their cultural practises to appease the interests of the narrow-minded masquerading as the fair.

Anonymous said...

Craig, Adele is not man-splaining because she's not a man.

Acid Queen said...

(That last anon was me, sorry)

Craig Ranapia said...

@Acid Queen: Women can (and do) man-splain all the time. There are women (and men) trying to have a civil discussion in good faith, and I really don't think Adele's patronising and abusive approach is adding anything much to it.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Craig

You obviously have lived the life of a Maaori woman such that you now hold some expertise in these matters.

Or are you that in touch with your feminism side that you now have a vulva instead of testes.

My comments were gender neutral and were aimed at whomever chooses to diminish my worldview and to elevate their own as being somehow more nobler and right.

Lucy said...

As a woman operating under Paakeha notions of freedom you have every right to bleed whereever you like - just respect my right to not have to eat kaimoana tainted with your blood.

I.....promise not to smear my menstrual blood over your paua before you barbeque it if you promise not to keep building straw-men arguments like that?

And, look: aquatic geochemistry happens to be a significant part of my current education. Of all the things in the ocean you need to be worried about, trust me when I say that whatever infintesimal amount of my menstrual blood that might get in there, should I choose to take a swim while having my period, is probably the lowest on the list.

Boganette said...

Acid Queen - I've seen lots of epic mansplaining from women. Mansplaining is definitely not a man-only thing.

Adele stop acting so damn entitled. You actually don't get to tell women to stay home during their periods just because you have certain beliefs that are entirely sexist and definitely not the view of all Maori.

Honestly this is an issue of sexism and misogyny disguised as "cultural belief". I really don't get how the period=cooties meme is somehow acceptable if it comes from someone who spells Maori with two As.

Craig Ranapia said...

BTW, Adele, you might like to consider that one of those "Paakeha notions of freedom" you so disdain, is the Human Rights Act that says I can't put a sign in my front window saying "ROOM FOR RENT - NO DOGS. NO NIGGERS. NO IRISH PAPISTS". It also prevents me putting a job ad in the newspaper saying "Women need not apply - cause I can't be bothered dealing with your crazy bitch PMS crap every month and you'll just get pregnant and quit anyway."

It would also be totally illegal if I refused you service in a shop or restauraunt because... well, everyone knows what "Maaris" are like. You're all on benefits and steal, right?

Hugh said...

Boganette, Adele's spelling of Maori with two "a"s likely comes because her view is that the two as better represents the sound of the macronised "a" than a single, un-macronised "a". (Blogger doesn't support macrons, which would be the only way to have a truly correct spelling)

As for man-splaining, my understanding has always been that it is a man-only thing, since it requires the use of male privilege, which women don't have. Not to say women can't be condescending, or that they can't cis-splain or het-splain or white-splain, but mansplain? No.

And yes I'm aware of the irony that I am in danger of mansplaining the concept of mansplaining. But here are some good links on the concept (including, in the comments quite early on, a discussion on whether women can mansplain)

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/01/it-looks-like-were-going-to-have.html

Hugh said...

Craig, I think you'll find that the idea that the examples you've outlined are unacceptable is not actually a belief that's unique to pakeha.

Giarne said...

I'm still not sure what trumps what and us all defending our patch in each corner isn't really helping build understanding.

Should cultural practices outweigh feminism or vice versa?

In the case of Paul-horrible-Henry I argued that his right to freedom of speech came with responsibilities not to use it to discriminate or spread hatred. (well, it was one of the arguements I progressed).

I don't see this as polar opposite but there is definitely a tension between the two arguments I can't tally up in my mind.

K said...

Removing the external female genitalia empowers women, it ensures girls get married and protects her reputation. It is done for a woman's own good. To protect her.

Why should communities that practice female genital cutting give up their cultural practises to appease the interests of the narrow-minded masquerading as the fair.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Craig

Maaori women in this country, generally, are at the bottom of the heap. Maaori men are slightly better off (NOT much though) because Maaori women tend to be the victims of their physical abuse.

You accuse me of having an abusive approach, I think you have been drinking too many lattes. Man up.

A Nonny Moose said...

Scuba, I was trying to leave the door open for Adele to teach if s/he so wished, without demanding it ie: dragging it back to beliefs 101

I can understand Adele kicking back at the our history and colonialism, but we're here in good faith. We're not here to destroy and disseminate all Maori culture, we're here saying "we have respect for the culture but THIS part needs re-examination because it is not representative of today's female equality".

But come on, Adele, the idea that women are weak and need protection when menstruating or pregnant? That's patently ridiculous, and scientifically debunked. If women couldn't touch food or go to particular places when in either state, this world wouldn't function.

I am not weak nor disgusting when menstruating. My body is not dirty. To keep such ideas alive is to tell women they are weak, disgusting and dirty. And less.

Craig Ranapia said...

@Hugh: That was my point.

Hugh said...

Really Craig? Because it sounded to me like you were saying that Maori shouldn't dismiss Pakeha values so lightly because those values bring benefits to Maori.

You haven't shown that Maori have anything to lose by rejecting Pakeha values, since the Pakeha values that are positive are Maori values too.

A Nonny Moose said...

Ok Adele, that's enough with the passive aggressive personal attacks. "Sleeping with", "man up", "in touch with your feminism side", "tainted with your blood".

This is a community that does not abide gendering insults. Anyone who is an ally of women or feminism/womanism would not use this language. Your agenda is to retain the status quo. We understand what it's like to have to protect what small pieces of power the patriachy throws to women. But attacking people who are angling for change to give you MORE power is just ridiculous.

manamaori said...

I'm not surprised that a bunch of white middle class "feminists" are upset. You do nothing for Maori or PI women at all. You're all too busy sucking up to each other and patting each other on the back. You should show more respect for the culture of the tangata whenua.

Lucy said...

You haven't shown that Maori have anything to lose by rejecting Pakeha values, since the Pakeha values that are positive are Maori values too.

I believe it was Adele who explicitly described them as "Pakeha freedoms", leaving Craig free to respond in her paradigm. I don't think the freedom to disagree or gender equality are Pakeha-only freedoms or values, and I sincerely doubt that Craig, being Maori, does either.

Tracey said...

Kia Ora Koutou

I have read all of your views and I do understand your questions and concerns

being a Maori myself ( well im scottish also, but identify myself as Maori) Maori tikanga and Tapu is not something I would ever question.

Tikanga is something that is so precious and important to everything Maori. The way I see it is that wahine are simply being asked to respect tikanga Maori...why is that so hard to fathem?

Yes Te Papa means "our place" all of ours to cherish, weather your are Maori or not, it really comes down to respect for ones culture.

"I'm saying Te Papa should have said right from the get go that they're a public museum and EVERYONE regardless of their gender/race/sexuality/whatever should be able to see the exhibit"

everyone is allowed to go......they havent said pregnant or menstruating he said. woman cannot go...."It's an advisory requested by the iwi, but it's for people to make up their own minds,"

A Nonny Moose said...

@ Mana: we recognize the historic non-inclusive failures of feminism, but to keep punishing us and accusing us of that is unfair. We are here trying to have a good faith discussion, and we understand the historic anger behind kick-back attacks like Adele's. We are here to support moving forward, not overwhelming and taking away choice.

Because this is what it's all about - having all options and choices open.

Bamboo said...

Well said Adele and manamaori. This white supremacist colonial "feminist" bullshit is not part of my feminism.

It's not okay to fuel racism with feminist rhetoric. The language used by white feminists here totally echoes colonial discourses with assumptions of pakeha cultural superiority.

Scuba Nurse said...

Thanks A Nonny Moose, and others.
I opened the floor to Adele when people started attacking because I thought she was here to teach, not preach, and I want to understand.
I wanted to understand why (and let’s get back on topic here) only the female forms of being Tapu were relevant in the notice.
I don’t want to get into a "my beliefs are better than your beliefs” fight, because no one wins that – ever.
The only way this country will ever unify is with trust on both sides that traditions are treated with respect because there are good reasons for them, and they are safe for all.
As ‘K’ said, “Why exclude women who obviously wouldn't believe in tapu? If you're not religious you can still enter a church.” So why not leave it up to the women to decide?
Our belief that we have fought for equal rights too long and hard to give it up is just as valid as the belief of Tapu items and people.
Since then Te Papa has come out with a statement saying it was a warning only, not a banns on all women who fit in the aforementioned categories.
I’m not even going to get into that...

Deborah said...

I think Te Papa is fudging the words there. The invitation, which is copied in the original post, says that pregnant and menstruating women are welcome to visit at another time. So clearly, they are not welcome and ought not to come at this particular time (i.e. when they are pregnant or menstruating). Their post-hoc explanation is disingenuous at best.

Capcha: ingenee

Dione Joseph said...

Deborah I think your comments on a whole are thoughtful but surely you fail to see that Indigenous peoples whether of NZ or Australia have a tradition where the sacred and the secular are intertwined?

Religious and cultural values cannot be separated from the supposed 'secular' stream of life.

The request that menstruating and pregnant women donot attend the tapu areas is of importance for the women - would any woman,irrespective of her cultural and religious beliefs, want her unborn child to be in the presence of something that was associated with death?

Living in Australia and working with Indigenous people here I applaud NZ on how far ahead it is - but at time silly remarks such as these seem to insult the knowledge and wisdom of those who were here long before the white man came.

Take heed and learn, there is much of Maori custom and obligation that is musuemified, locked up on boxes to examine and stare at - this is living Maori traditions. Have respect and honour them.

A Nonny Moose said...

And thank you once again Bamboo for missing my comments about inclusivity and Womanism. Because there's nothing like letting your eyes slide past words because you have a pre-set idea of what we're actually saying.

Mikaere Curtis said...

Because this is what it's all about - having all options and choices open.

I'm not hearing much choice here. The basic position taken by Boganette, Craig et al is "Conform to our feminist absolutism or else you are a bigoted primitive."

A position, I note, that has consonant tonalities with DPF's "Superstitious Bullshit" post over at his sewer.

In reality, no amount of femsplaining is going to change Maori culture, *especially* with regards to tikanga. However, there *are* aspects of Maori culture that are compatible with feminist ideology - such as the structural decision-making mechanisms outside of the rituals of encounter. i.e. the participation of women in the key strategic and tactical decisions facing whanau, hapu and iwi.

Deborah said...

Dione, I'm absolutely fine with respecting Maori values and traditions. However I don't think it is right to enforce those values and traditions through the power of the state. Te Papa is a state funded institution. As such, it shouldn't enforce particular spiritual values.

It's up to Maori women and men to work through their cultural values and practices, and keep, adapt, or discard them as needed. So for example, I don't like the practice of women not being allowed to speak on marae, but that doesn't mean that I'm out there on the barricades demanding change. It's not my place, at all. Some Maori women and men want to change that custom, other Maori women and men want to keep it. Who the hell am I to insert myself into that space?

But by the same token, there are cultural practices which are utterly abhorrent. NB: I don't for a moment include any Maori customs and practices that I know of in this. For example, think of honour killings in some countries. That's a cultural practice. IF you are going to defend cultural practices simply on the grounds that they are practices particular to a certain group, THEN you are committed to defending honour killings.

In other words, a practice is not immune from criticism just because it is a cultural practice.

By the same token, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't respect cultural practices either. Just because people do things differently doesn't make it wrong. It's just different. End of story.

We have to make judgement calls about cultural practices. Te Papa has made a judgement call that it is permissible to exclude some people on reproductive grounds. That is, a state funded institution is discriminating against people on the basis of the state of their bodies. As Idiot / Savant says, we have specific legislation that precludes us from doing that.

Tracey said...

Te Papa has to honour it's obligations under the Treaty, which means honouring tikanga. It also has to honour the specifications of those who own the the taonga, which means honouring tikanga

Deborah said...

But I don't think honouring tikanga is a trump card. It's certainly something that should be considered, and thought about carefully, and steps taken to ensure that tikanga is respected. But it's not the end of the story. Julie's got a helpful suggestion about how the issue could have been handled, instead of simply excluding women: Tricky balancing act ahead.

Te Papa is certainly caught between honouring tikanga, and obeying the law. Perhaps they could have been up front about that, instead of trying to fudge the issue by telling women that they weren't welcome.

As for the safety issue i.e. it's really all about keeping women safe - isn't that a matter for women to judge themselves? I suppose that plenty of Christians might think that my soul is in danger of eternal damnation, but really, since I don't think I have a soul at all, I just don't give a sh#t. In fact, I find the belief ludicrous, and patronising. I am an adult woman: I am entirely capable of making my own choices about what risks I will take. I don't need some patronising museum staffer to make that decision for me.

In any case, the "keeping women safe" idea is just an ex post justification from Te Papa. The invitation (see the original post) simply made it clear that pregnant women, and women in their bleeding time, are not welcome. There was nothing there about safety whatsoever.

Julie said...

Can I just encourage people to check out the comments on the other thread on this issue where the discussion is going a bit differently, and marino has given a good explanation of her view of the nature of tapu, which I found really helpful.

Craig Ranapia said...

Te Papa has to honour it's obligations under the Treaty, which means honouring tikanga. It also has to honour the specifications of those who own the the taonga, which means honouring tikanga

Te Papa also has to honour it's obligations under the Human Rights Act and employment law. To take it to the absolute precautionary reductio ad absurdum, would it be "respecting tikanga" if Te Papa stopped employing fertile women -- for their own safety, of course. After all, men never get pregnant or menstruate.

I suspect PSA secretary Brenda Pilott would have a word or two to say about that -- all short and unambiguous.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know of some examples of harm that has befallen women who have not respected this custom in the past.
Is there good reason to continue to hold this belief in this day and age, when we know what causes crop failures and earthquakes and many birth defects? Or is it merely still held because it's traditional, like many ghastly discriminatory practices used to be?

- Madeleine

Anonymous said...

Adele - I would like to know what menstruating women are more vulnerable to than non-menstruating women.

Also if people who have cuts or abrasions are also expected to not go near kaimoana for fear of tainting it with their blood. What about people who get cut on shells while collecting - do they run on shore? Or is it only menstrual blood that is dirty?

From what I know about nutrient cycles and filter-feeding, if any atoms from molecules of the menstrual blood are incorporated into the body of a mollusc, it's not as menstrual blood per se, but as part of a molecule rebuilt from the digested products of the molecules in menstrual blood. Those same filter feeders will also contain atoms that have been up people's bums, spat out from phlegmatic lungs, parts of decaying corpses etc. That's the way it goes.

If there was a reason, like menstrual blood makes the shellfish grow diseases that then make people sick, or taints the flavour (double blind trials to verify?), then fair enough about keeping menstruating women away. However, somehow, I'm guessing that's not the case.

These taonga used in warfare and their harmful elements - actual harmful elements, or things that viewers believe are harmful, and are therefore only affected by if they believe that to be the case. in which case nobody who doesn't believe they are harmful would find them to be, so are safe.

- Madeleine

Anonymous said...

Tracey - while many cultural practices have obvious value or function, this one seems to be equivalent to nothing more than superstition.
"Something bad" will happen if you do or don't x y or z. Throw spilled salt over your shoulder to know the devil off, or whatever that one is. (Personally, I throw spilled salt in the sink.)

I don't have respect for things that are superstitions as part of my lack-of-belief system. Am I entitled to at least equivalent reciprocal respect?

- Madeleine

Anonymous said...
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Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Madeleine

Firstly, in Te Ao Maaori - the Maaori worldview, there is no separation between the spiritual realm, and the realm of human affairs and daily living. The vulnerability we speak of is spiritual - caused by the body being depleted (how many women experience feelings of crappiness while having their period) or diverted (in the process of growing life).

Actually any situation in which a woman is depleted in body makes her vulnerable to harmful elements - common sense from a medical point of view, it is also true from a Maaori perspective.

You miss the point entirely when going into the minutiae of the feeding habits of the mollusc.

In traditional Maaori society a rigid adherence to cleanliness was observed by the application of tapu - to avoid disease and pestilence. Excrement was land based and the waterways that contained food were strictly maintained in a pristine state. to preserve the food resource and avoid contamination.

Only in recent times has there been a concerted effort on behalf of Paakeha to move to land based sewage disposal - I guess,even Paakeha are now sick of swimming in E Coli.

Also, I should add that another reason why women were discouraged from swimming while menstruating was to avoid the possibility of being shark food.

If a woman transgressed and then got eaten the overwhelming response from her people would be - ana! which has an equivalence to doh!

Anonymous said...

Its a pity the person/s who wrote that initial request did'nt take the time to explain that this request was only specific to those who wished to view artefacts that have not been researched and verified by TePapa curators yet.. Its also a pity that same person/s did not explain the incredibly powerful forces of nature that were invoked and harnessed to these weapons of destruction by shaman of the day..

Believe it or not, most of these weapons have killed other human beings, many in gruesome ways.. The strong energy they emanate would definitely affect different sensitivities in each person differently.. However, the compassionate, empathetic and others of higher sensitivities, such as women during menses or pregnancy, are also the most vulnerable in these environments..

The real danger lies in the aforementioned forces of nature or 'mauri' that reside in these artefacts.. These forces do not think, they act.. They were created in times of extreme fear of life and death, times of survival and imbued with all the destructive forces or 'gods' their shaman were capable of invoking..

These forces do not need your belief to exist, do not need your permission to act, do not need your co-operation to operate.. To deny that these forces exist because they can't be seen would be like denying thoughts exist because they can't be seen..

I believe TePapa staff 'in the know' made this precautionary suggestion to protect the vulnerable from these very dangerous forces, nothing more, nothing less.. Whether people choose to regard this suggestion with respect or not will come down to free will and individual choice on the day..

Deborah said...

Anon at 5.28, women who have had miscarriages read this blog. I've copied and pasted the rest of your comment into a new comment at 10.28, but I've deleted the paragraph about miscarriage.

Also, could you please respect our comments policy (see above). you don't need to register with blogger, or use your real name: just add a consistent handle to your comments.

Anonymous said...

Non-Maori feminist has spoken, therefore, we as Maori should feel privileged that you have kindly pointed out to us our failings as a race. Should we also feel ashamed of our cultural norms, and immediately change our ignorant beliefs to suit mainstream, modern views?

Everyone loves Maori culture when it's used to increase tourism, or when Maori culture is used as a point of Kiwi difference and uniqueness, but woe and betide if we actually ask people to respect long-held traditions when in contact with OUR taonga, or in a Maori environment. Then we're labelled as 'backwards', 'ignorant', and 'savage' - and the most humorous label; 'oppressors of women'.

I don't expect to participate in a Japanese tea ceremony and demand they change certain aspects because it's not convenient for me. I'd never presume to do that to any culture. Why does mainstream NZ feel they have every right to expect this from us?

Fyi, Maori, nor Te Papa, are not excluding women from viewing tapu objects...as stated, women are welcome to return when they are not having their period, or when they are not hapu. Also, it's an 'advisory' only, therefore wahine may continue into the collections if hapu or if it's their time of the month - but they do so at their own peril. These are safeguards put in place to protect our cherished wahine and pepes.

Maori culture does not oppress women - individuals oppress women. Women have their own special power which Maori culture celebrates, and protects. My hope for you, Deborah, is that one day you would care to research a little deeper than what you think you know, and perhaps emerge with a clearer understanding.

@ Boganette: The collections discussed here are not on public view. It's not an exhibit, but a collection of objects stored away. Anyone can view these objects at any time...even years into the future, after making the appropriate arrangements.

Wahine Toa!

Deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah said...

Anon at 1.25 - I did not make any comments about Maori culture, and I certainly did not label it with any of the words that you say that people apply to it. Yes, I've heard those words, but I most definitely did not use them myself, nor would I use them.

My issue all along has been with the way Te Papa phrased this 'advisory'. It wasn't sent out as an 'advisory': it was a clear direction that women who are menstruating or pregnant are not welcome. As I've said elsewhere, I'm very happy to respect tapu, just as I am happy to respect churches and mosques. I don't believe in it, but if it's important to the people who own the sites, then as a matter of common courtesy, of course I won't walk in that place, or swear or whatever. But the way that Te Papa phrased the invitation, and then defended it, suggested that women were supposed to believe that particular artefacts could harm them. I don't. Whatsoever. (For the record, I don't believe in the god of the christians either, or indeed, any gods.) However, I'm happy to behave in a way that is consistent with respect for those who do hold such beliefs.

Aside from that, there is still an issue with a public institution enforcing particular spiritual beliefs. I find that problematic with respect to any spiritual and religious beliefs. For example, I oppose the prayer at the opening of parliament, and the tax-exempt status for churches.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Deborah

Side walks are public spaces, parks are public spaces paid for by rate and taxpayers, and to banish religious or cultural expressions in these places would be tantamount to breaches of the BORA.

Also where does a bi-cultural understanding fit within your perceptions of public space?

Also, tautoko Anon, ngaa mihi a nui.

Deborah said...

Side walks are public spaces, parks are public spaces paid for by rate and taxpayers, and to banish religious or cultural expressions in these places would be tantamount to breaches of the BORA.

Yes, it would. And I would be opposed to that. I'll need to take a bit of time to think about my response to this for a bit, but I think my response would be to say something to the effect that I'm fine with someone say, standing on a street corner and preaching christianity, but I would be very unhappy if the preacher insisted that no one be able to counter his views, or offer atheist criticisms, and so on. That is, it's not permissible to claim public space for your exclusive use. By analogy, I oppose having public holidays for christian festivals (Easter, Christmas), but not having public holidays for other religious festivals (for example, Eid ul-Fitr).

So I think that with respect to the public funding of Te Papa, I would want to say something to the effect that it's fine to have the spiritual or cultural view that some taonga are tapu because they may cause harm, as long as it's fine to also have the view (as many people do), that they are just inanimate objects in the same way that a chair is a physical object.

But I'll need to think a bit more about this before I respond in more depth. I've got some fairly clear views about the separation of church (religion, spirituality) and state, so I've been able to respond to earlier comments pretty quickly, but I haven't thought this particular angle on it through. I hope to get back to you sometime this evening - I'm busy with teaching and children for the next few hours.

Hugh said...

Deborah

As somebody who I think is roughly on the same page as you, although not a woman, here's my interpretation, which might help you in forming your own views.

It's not appropriate for the state to enforce or even endorse a certain view of spirituality in a public space, be it a footpath or a museum.

The equivalent would be a city government saying that pregnant woman would be strongly advised not to go to a certain public place for fear of spiritual harm that might be done to them. Even if the government is only advising, not ordering, it's still a pretty bad look.

And can we please get past the whole "We just want to protect women"? I can't speak for Maori culture but we Pakeha have a long history of repressing, restricting and harming women under the guise of protecting them and their sacred life-giving wombs.

In fact I would go so far as to say that it's never the state's role to endorse a particular view of spirituality in any context. This is one of the main areas where I often find the Treaty of Waitangi hard to accept - it's hard to reconcile the state's need to take into account Maori values when those values are so often based on religion, while simultaneously maintaining a state that is religiously neutral. And it's hard for me, as an atheist, to practice a level of respect for Maori beliefs while still maintaining my convictions as an atheist.

Anonymous said...

Adele -
"The vulnerability we speak of is spiritual"

My belief and worldview is that that sort of belief is mumbo jumbo nonsense (regardless of whatever culture it is a part of), so why should I respect it? It would be disrespecting my own worldview to show it any credence. I entirely disagree on its merit; my world view demands evidence.

If women were really more vulnerable when menstruating, then we should be able to tell from medical data - it might seem to be common sense to you (especially if you think of it as bleeding as opposed to expulsion of unwanted tissue), but the body has a remarkable ability to manage internal resources to stay healthy. A process that left a woman as vulnerable as you seem to imply probably wouldn't have evolved. I think I shall go a-googling later.

The shark risk is related to any blood, not just menstrual blood. At least I can see that that aspect has some foundation, given what we know about how sharks find food.

I thought at least some women feel great when 'in the process of growing life'. Sure, it's taxing on the body, maybe leaving it compromised, but a few bits of stone probably don't bear dangerous pathogens on them, especially if they are artefactual and not still covered in the drying and decaying bits of smashed-up body from a recent use in war.

Regaarding the mollusc - I think you miss my point. If you can't tell from the mollusc itself whether someone menstruating has been nearby or not, then the tainting is in your mind, not the shellfish, meaning the actual event did nothing discernable to them, you just think they did. Did I win something Lotto a few weeks ago because the stars were positioned just so, or because of chance?

Tapu to avoid disease and pestilence makes sense, but only in traditional times - isolation is a recognised and functional way of reducing the spread of disease. These days we have Janola and soap and Dettol and chlorinated water instead.
Much as sending a runner has been replaced by using the phone, such tapu has been superceded, at least in thei case.

"... the incredibly powerful forces of nature that were invoked and harnessed to these weapons ...The strong energy they emanate would definitely affect different sensitivities in each person differently.. The real danger lies in the aforementioned forces of nature or 'mauri' that reside in these artefacts..."
I agree they have chemical potential energy, and nuclear and electrostatic forces within, but those probably aren't the ones you mean. My belief is that any mauri you determine these objects is because you choose to invest the objects with them when you get told a story about them, as opposed to anything inherent in the artefacts. This is easily tested. Get a genuine artefact and a replica, and see if people can pick the genuine one from the powerful forces it emanates.

I wonder if you accept that it's possible to reject aspects of a culture while still respecting the culture, and that anyone dispecting this aspect isn't disrespecting Maori as a whole. There are plenty of aspects of Maori culture I admire and respect because they have purpose. This one I don't. It's an anachronism.

- Madeleine

Anonymous said...

Adele -

Forces and energies? It still sounds like superstition to me, and superstition is not part of my world view at all. To expect me to disrespect and ignore my values for the sake of respecting yours is asking a bit much.

You suggest just because these forces (harmful forces?) can't be seen, it doesn't mean they're not there. You suggest they emanate forces that the compassionate and empathetic can feel. I suggest it is the delusional and cognitively-impaired instead, but whatev.

I wonder - if we took a few objects, and replicas, and asked these compassionate and empathetic people to tell them apart on the basis of the energies being emanated, could they reliably tell the difference?

As for tapu, it's an anachronism. In times past, and even now, isolation was a good strategy to reduce the spread or risk of disease. However, these days we have Dettol and the like.

- Madeleine

Deborah said...

Hello again, Adele

I've been thinking about your pavement analogy i.e. the pavement as public space. I think my initial response to it still holds: I don't want particular expressions of belief / faith / whatever barred from public spaces, but that means that all expressions of belief / faith / whatever are acceptable in that public space (acceptable in the sense that they shouldn't be banned, not acceptable in the sense that I or anyone else is required to approve of them).

Transferring that to Te Papa, people are very welcome to express the view that certain artefacts cause harm to women when women are in their presence, and other people are very welcome to express the view that there such metaphysical effects don't exist.

I think this discussion is starting to make it very clear to me just why I found Te Papa's instruction that women who were menstruating or pregnant were not welcome. Te Papa was in effect requiring me to believe that these forces really do exist. In other words, they were trying to dictate belief.

As I've said elsewhere, I really don't believe in anything much at all. Not christian gods, not new age crystals and the like, not the spirits that some Maori believe in. Yet Te Papa's exclusion can only make sense if such they think that such things are so real that everyone ought to believe in them.

I find that dangerous. State power should not be used to compel belief. Our history is rife with the horrors that occur when the state tries to dictate what people should believe. To be very clear, most of the time when this has happened, it has been a state dictating that its citizens must be Catholic, or must be what we now call Anglican, or must follow Islam. But it's very dangerous territory when a state tries to compel religious belief.

It also shows me why I wouldn't have been worried if Te Papa had said something like, "These taonga are regarded as tapu for women who are menstruating or pregnant. We ask you to please respect this tapu." I would never knowingly transgress against tapu, not because I believe in it myself, but because it's a matter of respecting other people's cultural beliefs. Of course, there's a condition on this: I don't respect cultural beliefs such as the beliefs "justifying" honour killings. But just as I behave quietly in a christian church, and not interrupt the worshippers, I'm happy to treat tapu with respect. Not because I believe in it, but because as a thorough going liberal, I respect other people's rights to hold particular beliefs.

Deborah said...

Hello, again, again, Adele

You asked me about bi-culturalism. My answer is that I am unsure about it, because I dislike the binary in what is a multicultural country. I'm concerned that if we talk about bi-culturalism, then the discussion is confined to Maori, and pakeha, and it doesn't leave much space for New Zealanders who are neither Maori or pakeha.

I'm also unsure about how the term is used by Maori people, so I don't quite know exactly what you mean by it, and how it might impact on public space.

Having said that, I think that it is very important to recognise the position of Maori as the first people in New Zealand. And I think that as a country, we need to do a lot more. For example, I think that the language of pakeha, English, gets a massive subsidy from the state because virtually all our public and state discourse is conducted in English. And te reo gets very little assistance in comparison. I would like to see something like the accord between Francophones and Anglophones in Quebec, where the rule is that all signs MUST be in French, although signs may have English as well. I'd be pretty happy with a second Maori house in the parliament, or a parallel parliament. And so on. I'm a little reluctant to make lots of suggestions about what should be done, because I think that it's not for me to charge on in and tell Maori what to do. But I can see huge scope for doing a lot more to reflect the standing of Maori as the first people in New Zealand.

And of course, that begs the question about why I am objecting to the Te Papa invitation. My reasoning goes back to my concerns about the state getting involved imposing particular religious and spiritual beliefs on people.

Thank you for reading through my comments. I've been reading through yours carefully, and reflecting on them. I'm still annoyed about the way the Herald presented my views: they were looking for an Angry Feminist angle, and when I wouldn't give it to them, they still made it sound like that anyway. Mind you, they couldn't even spell my name right, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Deborah

My apologies to you once again, I am having to actually work today, but I will respond to both your posts as soon as I am able.