Monday, June 26, 2006

New Year's Eve?

More Mawkish Maoritanga?
Tomorrow is Matariki, the Maori New Year. I suppose that makes today Matariki Eve.

Hate to be a cynical kill-joy, but can't resist the opportunity to moan. This whole Matariki business. Does it feel like more sickly, cringing bi-cultural nonsense to you? Another fatuous fabrication of left-wing, bone-pendant wearing media morons on a mission to 'transform' society. Y'know, like "global warming", or the "sick culture" of NZ policing, or the "obesity epidemic," or the [insert faddish lunacy here].

I think it all terribly phoney, myself.
We never celebrated it last year, or any previous. Why the big deal this year?

The other thing is, I don't know why lefties are so keen to embrace 'Maoriness', coz if you looked hard & honestly, you'd discover many things - intrinsic to Maoritanga - that the left find so deplorable. All the 'violence stuff' aside, how many lefties would celebrate nepotism, tribalism, or primogeniture? Maori culture is extremely hierarchical and status conscious. How does this gel with concepts of equality & egalitarianism? What about traditionally segregated sex-roles? Or the notoriously moral conservatism on issues such as homosexuality and abortion? Then there's God (who's a big no-no in many lefty circles). How do you incorporate esoteric matters such as religion, patriotism, and monarchism into your modern, liberal world-view? Just wondering...

Not meaning to scoff at well-meaning lefties (whose hearts are often truly in the right place), but it's their ideas, or rather, their idealisations that fail to impress. Hate to be so abrupt, but I can't stand the syrupy, romanticised vision of traditional Maoridom: wise, kindly, all-forgiving matriarchs watching over their blissful frolicking grandchildren, while men work chirpily gathering nature's abundant harvest under a smiling benevolent sun. To ascribe to such a dainty, rococo picture is ignorance doubled & naivety squared.

So, why are we observing Matariki again? And which aspects of Maoritanga are we supposed to 'celebrate' again?
Please clue me in, lefties! I'm waiting...
And please hurry, or I might miss the party.

Update: Wow! Bingo! Jim Hopkins' column is about the Kahui twins, but his intro perfectly sums up the false sentimentality and wishful delusions clouding perceptions of Maori culture. Controversial, no doubt, but I couldn't help nodding & cheering & hear-hear-ing. I truly think Mr Hopkins is on to something.

The canonisation of Maori is largely not of their own making. Maori didn't collectively seek to become dinner party saints, or classroom ones either, for that matter. They didn't incessantly demand to be represented as a tangata more in touch with the spiritual dimension. And neither did they insist on being ordained and sanctified as a race more in tune with whenua and whanau and aroha and such.

In fact, Maori people's status as latter day saints was created for them. And while their elevation may have been warmly embraced by some Maori since, there's no doubt it happened initially because others deemed it should. And those doing the deeming were the people who deem most things in this insular little nation-city, namely the middle class, particularly those within it whose missionary gene irresistibly draws them into politics, government, education and the media.

Maori have become the unwitting repository of a numbed middle-class hunger for spirituality. They have, in effect, been reinvented to satisfy the inchoate needs of a class notionally secular but still needing to believe in something.

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