Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fiona Mackenzie: Monkey Business in the Town Hall

Strict Maori powhiri protocol was imposed on Auckland Council’s inauguration last Tuesday (29th Oct). Women councillors were directed into the back row behind all their male colleagues, then to the end of the line-up for the hongi. One councillor said she was “shoved” into the back, while another explained that the women simply followed each other. It’s hard to imagine these strong, assertive women willingly being so meek and submissive – especially as their ranks contain at least one ex-MP, two ex-mayors and a deputy mayor.  Wherever the truth lies, the appearance of discrimination and rudeness towards our democratically-elected councillors (and, by inference, all women) was shocking.

Whoever was responsible is obviously unaware that: 1) sexual discrimination is illegal in New Zealand workplaces and government, and 2) in politics, one must be seen to be doing the right thing.

Over and above that, this was a local government event, on public land, in a western democracy, representing Aucklanders of every ethnicity and gender. So why was Maori protocol even an issue?

The Town Hall is not a marae and it is not iwi-owned. Even if it had been Maori property, the councillors were not visitors to Auckland; nor were they first time visitors to the Town Hall who needed to be welcomed; nor did the women need protection (unless the organisers were worried that Len might continue to display poor judgment). So the use of Maori protocol made no sense culturally anyway.

To make matters worse, this sexist and undemocratic treatment had been dished out in council events before. Consequently, it had been purposefully discussed and agreed beforehand that the women councillors would not be discriminated against in the seating arrangement this time – although only because the swearing in ceremony would be preceded by a mihi whakatau (a message of welcome) and not a full powhiri!

Then, to add insult to injury, the speeches in English were translated simultaneously into sign, while those in Maori were not translated into English or sign, making the Maori content meaningless to the majority. And the powhiri went on for 40 minutes, which was way too long for the occasion. Many guests, including some councillors’ young children or grandchildren, were bored and disappointed.

The Council’s cultural sycophants enjoy western standards of living, status and great salaries, yet they are insisting on imposing inappropriate rituals and third world bullying tactics on our representatives. What’s more, I bet ratepayers cough up great sums for this privilege.

Western values, as they have evolved through time, are the reason New Zealand and many countries have prospered while others remain impoverished. It is unbelievable that any of us now allow our inclusive principles to be subverted, all for the sake of kowtowing to a bunch of bullies lurking behind a "cultural" fa├žade. It’s time for this farcical nonsense to stop.


Anonymous said...
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I agree, I am over all this, I am so sick of it that I now intend to walk out of any event gat I am subject this insulting behaviour . I recently went to the opening of the photographic society of New Zealand national convention in Wellington and suffered 35 minutes if the 40 minutes introduction in Maori again without translation. What the hell have Maori to do with a photography convention? They hadn't even invented the wheel..

Anonymous said...
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Wow such racist overtones to this article...if Maori are at an event then they will have been invited. what has inventing the wheel got to do with the article? You should lodge your complaint with the Mayor Len Brown know the man who has no family values...

Anonymous said...
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Fiona said....

" It is unbelievable that any of us now allow our inclusive principles to be subverted,"....

Yes it is unbelievable... but its happening all through the western world across many issues.

We seem not to value our own way of life any more, or the freedoms and prosperity our forefathers fought for.

Graeme said...
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I agree 100% Fiona. I once was ok with the occassional Maori welcome etc however not anymore. Unfortunately now there are haka's for the opening of a broom closet. A few quick words in Maori is one thing but the long protracted ramblings that we are now constantly subjected to are way over the top.
Like anonymous above I intend to walk out of any event where I am subjected to this behaviour.

Anonymous said...
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This happens all the time now at many events in NZ. The treatment of the women councillors was insulting and belittling, and I am surprised they are not more staunch about it.

Same old. I fear it will all get worse and evem more racist against evil old whitey...just another brick gone from the wall of Western Civ as we know it.

Anonymous said...
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ever been to a university function/opening/awards ceremony?
They are one of the worst offenders for this kind of nonsense.
On the commencment of my degree at Uni, we have a full fifty minute Powhiri, totally non-translated, yet there were people there from many creeds and races.
This is being rammed down our throats, almost a religion.
Next time, I am also walking out.

Annette Moffat said...
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I enjoyed a powhiri at the beginning of last year's Aged Concern conference - it was a 'grounding' feeling before beginning business - I thought 'this could only be NZ'. As a Pakeha I've imagined NZ without Maoris - what an uninteresting culture we would have - just a sort of duplicate of British. Yes there are issues we need to discuss & come to solutions that don't involve offensive attitudes.

Fiona Mackenzie said...
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Cries of racism are very effective at closing down debate. But we really must be free to talk about when it is and isn't appropriate to impose historic Maori protocol, rituals and language on public events - and how long they should go on for. You can bet there'd be very noisy complaints if our women councillors were being "shoved" about by Exclusive Brethren, or guests at a swearing in were expected to endure 40 minutes of the bagpipes or Irish dancing!

Chris said...
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If you are a university student then I would advise you to think very carefully before showing any disrespect towards Maori culture or the liberal consensus in general. People will notice and you will be remembered. Don't forget, unlike the NCEA and other examinations at school, at university you have to write your name on your exam script and if the lecturer regards you as a racist then you will fail and then there is not much you can do about it.
I know.

Graham and Catriona said...
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I totally agree with the sentiments. The pandering to so called Maori protocol in overwhelming and inappropriate ways does nothing but cause resentment and division, the very things we are told need to be stamped out.

Dave said...
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Annette says if we just had British culture what an uninteresting culture we would have, what planet have you been living on Fiona, British culture has founded our democratic system, science, medicine, arts, sport and music. Maori culture had tribalism, slaves, cannibalism, genocide, primitive living conditions, a low life expectancy and no freedoms at all.
You are a prime example of the brainwashing sanitised version of history being taught at all our institutions.
Like lemmings most of us are following the propaganda being forced onto all of us by the greedy mostly white radicals. Read Ian Wisharts new book 'The Great Divide' for a rare look at what early Maori life in NZ was really like.
Another great British 'culture' is the ability to freely write your opinions something denied to most country's where a British presence wasn't established.

Anonymous said...
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Fair comment all round. The usual culturally acceptable way of dealing with long winded or boring speakers is the slow hand clap or foot stamp from the audience. Time for action at the next meeting perhaps?

grundle said...
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It is time for every fair minded citizen of this Western country to realise, the Maorification of NZ is well underway.
It disgusts me that ordinary Kiwis (of all cultures) are prepared to stand by like morons and not challenge this insidious 'take over'.
The proclaimed 'self-importance' and self-serving nature of this culture is going to lead to division and trouble. Wake up NZ... OPEN YOUR EYES, become a little 'street-wise and less ignorant.
I do not recognise any of the primitive and chauvanistic ways of Maori...It is after all 2013.

Christina said...
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Its all gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, this is becoming the norm in NZ at every event, Maori takeover and never bother to translate for goodness sake we are an English speaking country whether they like it or not plus it is bad manners and arrogant.
Plus that may be the Maori old way of woman be subservient and pushed to the back, but hello it is against the law to discriminate in NZ!
So when are our leaders going to grow some B---s and put a stop to this nonsense!

Barry said...
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The solution is to remove "maori" as an official language and to never ever again invite any part-maori to any function.

Annette said...
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Fiona - the difference is Irish people and the Exclusive Brethren Church were not here as Tangata Whenua in this land. Maori & settlers from the past & current should be working through these issues in the spirit of The Treaty of Waitangi.

paul scott said...
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Just incredible. The photographer in the first reply could have stood up and walked out. The answer to this racism in New Zealand is no. And you have to be prepared to do your something about it, even if the racists stand over you.
Abolish racist Tribunal.
Ablolish racist Parliament seats or better still, plus 5 Parliament seats for people of Asians descent.

Anonymous said...
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Blame Doug Graham who only found out he was a Maori just before his on going treaty negotiations, he even got a knighthood for causing more racial disharmony.

Anonymous said...
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Tangata Whenua is the start of the problem. We are a modern democracy and don't need the whole downstream move to primitive, rude, and ignorant cultural superiority we have got for our good intentions.
The TOW was written after all to establish law in NZ to stop Maori obliterating Maori and that "spirit" needs to be remembered

Gail Mosey said...
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As a female who is sick of being separated from my partner and shoved to the back, I now ask whether a powhiri is planned at the start of any event, and if so, when it is due to finish. That is the time I then arrive.

Anyone who objects should do the same. Perhaps if powhiri are being held to empty halls, then event organisers wil get the message.

Auntie Podes said...
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"Culture"? I fail to see the significance of the virtually stone-age culture of Maori. Powhiri are one example - the haka another.

The irony of the ubiquitous haka performed prior to the recent Japan v. All Blacks rugby match was very apparent. It is, in a way, a great pity that the Japanese team didn't stage a response of their Samurai tradition. That would have made an interesting topic for comparison and discussion.

brian w brown said...
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Fiona Mackenzie you are the very reason why I still hold some hope for our country. Why oh why we don't have more people of your calibre has me beat,maybe its because we are just so apathetic we don't deserve them.

Helen said...
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Yes Fiona, I agree. My comment is just this. As long as people in New Zealand - NOT aotea NZ - continue to allow this nonsense to continue it will. Who will have the guts to stand up to the bullies and say "ENOUGH!" Surely someone?


Peter said...
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Willing accommodation of intrusive behaviour happens all the time (when a salesman knocks on the door). Courtesy and respect extend only so far as realisation dawns that a form of misrepresentation is taking place. Reciprocal good faith is not being exercised.Many good people sense the brazen presumptions but lack the skill and fortitude to deal with it. A notable public example of principled reaction that sets the standard is long overdue.
Thank you Fiona.

Anonymous said...
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I was shocked and amazed to see this thread of negative comments from intelligent people. If we consider the wedding ceremony of Wills and Kate, it was full of pomp and archaic ceremony in a Cathedral setting foreign to most of us, yet how many of us sat through it, respecting it even though we did not understand it. New Zealanders do the same at funerals, we sit through the church-inspired process because we are respectful of other people. How many of us go to a Japanese Tea Party and let their cultural process take precedence, esp if its in Japan. All of the things being complained about here, are about NZers in our own country. The only people-oriented icon of our nation is our Maori traditions, everything else is a copy of a British or European tradition, including our Parliament and Legislature, our westernised music, our dancing(old time to current), our farming, our fashion. The only unique thing thia country has, is Maori. Other cultures respect that. They also respect that they can retain their own culture in our land. Mostly, its the non-Maori, non-Pacific, non-immigrant and non-Asian NZers who proudly display their narrow mind set, for all the world to see.

John said...
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This at its core is an issue of identity and culture, very pertinent questions to contemplate for our future. For I would ask my fellow countrymen what makes us as New Zealanders different from Australians? Do we have a national character which marks us out from all others? If so, what are the essential elements of that character? Such questions are oftentimes a source of unease. Unease because national identity is easily confused with its chauvinistic neighbour, nationalism. Unease because most are wary of national stereotypes. Perhaps, too, Pakeha unease because when push comes to shove much of the world cannot tell us apart from Australians. And so the question remains: what is it exactly to be a New Zealander?

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