Friday, June 8, 2012
Mike Butler: Dried heads were not sacred
Moon would have had to claim new evidence to get historically challenged mainstream media reporters to show any interest in the story. Anybody familiar with New Zealand’s brief history would know that preserved Maori heads quickly became a valuable item of trade as 19th century European ethnographers revelled in the discovery of the real live Stone Age Maori culture, and were keen to acquire specimens.
Interesting to see cultural expert Pou Temara quoted in this story, making a great show of piety, by asking: "What about the relatives of people whose heads were taken and sold? What about their feelings? The head is the most sacred part of the human anatomy. If that was true then, it's still true now."
Fair enough, one may say, but readers of my blog of January 29, 2012, entitled “Preserving heads debated”, may recall that Temara was reported as saying Maori were debating whether to revive the practice of preserving human heads. Temara said artists have replicated the old methods by experimenting on piglets.
The Government has given Te Papa $4.5-million since 2003 specifically for its repatriation programme. While Moon does not want that spending be reviewed, he does ask that repatriation ceremonies recognise these were not deeply sacred treasures at the time.
at 8:14 PM