Powhiris

I see Trevor Mallard has got some flak for urging a rethink of the influence of Maori culture in schools.

Somehow I doubt he would ever have said this, pre-Orewa, but lets take his comments at face value.

He is not saying there should be no Maori culture at schools, but that a recent powhiri took 90 minutes which was too long. Also he was concerned that female students were often sidelined in them. Seems fair enough. The reponse to this assertion was that women have a different but equal role in powhiris.

Personally I think Maori culture greatly enriches New Zealand, as it is unique to us. Almost every conference I attend starts with a powhiri. I like singing the Maori version of God Defend New Zealand more then the Engligh one, and who doesn’t like the Haka?

In fact the hotel receptionist in Washington when I mentioned I was from New Zealand, raved on about our “dancing warriors” he had seen perform recently.

But when powhiris, especially if all in Maori, go on for more than 10 minutes or so, people do start to get restless and you get a backlash. If I had to endure a 90 minute powhiri, I would probably say what Mallard said.

I did have to laugh at Titewhai Harawira’s response to Parekura Horomia complaining he had recently had to put up with a five hour powhiri. Her response:

“Now, if Parekura wants to sit through something like that for five hours, he’s got no balls, typical of Maori men.”

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