Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rods For Their Own Backs

Two articles in the news yesterday caught my eye:
"DOC orders driveway shift after maori grave found", and
"Maori Party: 'We're not going into byelection to come second' ".
+ In the first, a Taranaki farmer has to move his driveway after the Department of Conservation (DOC) found that it ran across six 160-year-old Maori graves. He says its location means, if it's moved, it'll cause traffic problems. A Puketapu spokesman says the family should act immediately, now the graves have been correctly identified.
DOC says "We order". Maori say "immediately". NZ Herald does not report any problems concerning the graves, ever since the driveway was made a century ago.
So rather than forcing a farmer into the great effort and cost of relocating a driveway (with the resultant involvement of NZTA over road safety issues), moving a fenceline and phone cable, would it not be simpler to just exhume the remains?
Surely this is not a PC-blow-it-out-of-all-proportion maori issue...it is an issue of respect for the dead, coupled with a reality check on the age of the driveway and lack of previous drama. That's all.
"Well, it was Mothers
Day: I had nothing
else to do..."
+ The second story is a double-header: the Maori Party preparing to stand against Hone Harawira in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate...and the sustained outbursts by Hone's mum and his sister throughout the entire 4hr. meeting at Waitangi's Te Tii Marae.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia calls it psychological abuse by the pair, and claims they also intimidated people by saying they'd written down the names of those present.
Aside from the politics (Mana vs Maori Party), surely anyone disrupting a meeting should have been removed. With my limited understanding of marae protocol, I thought women were not allowed to speak there without being invited. Why put up with a heckler (OMG, a female heckler!) for four hours...and then complain about it afterwards?
The issue here is not the right to hold an opinion, not freedom-of-speech, but the right to remove an interjector, and why this wasn't done. The hui organisers only have themselves to blame.
There's generally a simple solution to most problems...unless you really want to make a rod for your own back.
PS: 10 May 2011 - ...and here're the consequences of tolerating such behaviour...
PS: 17 May 2011 - Te Tii marae threatens to ban Hone's mum!


Anonymous said...

In the case of the farmer, there's an historic reserve right beside his property. That is part of a pending treaty claim. So maybe there are wider political implications going on that the media has not reported...

Mad Bush Farm said...

On the second...no comment..yet I'll have to go and have a good read of that one. On the first..okay if it was simply a matter of a council saying Oi! Move your driveway without giving a very good reason then I'd be ropeable if I was the one in that position. I live on a farm so I'm well aware of the hassles farmers can get over things. But on this - we're dealing with a burial sight which makes things a little more complicated. I have Kaitahu ancestry in my genealogy - and I don't think I'd be very happy if anyone disturbed the resting places of my ancestors. Stepping back here that would be the same as someone digging up our relatives out of a graveyard and moving them elsewhere. We have to consider both sides of our culture here. Anonymous above me says it's part of a pending treaty claim. So yes very very trick and complicated issue indeed. I'll go back to my hole now and stay there. Have a good one
Cheers Liz

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

Hi, y'all!

The bodies came from the beginning of what's known as the Puketapu Feud (an inter-tribal scuffle lasting 4yrs that eventually claimed 60 maori lives).

There's more, halfway down THIS page:

But like this week's return of the shrunken maori head from France, I'd have thought the Taranaki tribe involved would have WANTED their ancestors' remains re-buried somewhere more sacred, instead of left under a driveway!

Maria, Hawera said...

It also depends on how they were buried, in the first place.
If they were just dumped in a hole after a fight, then yes - bury them elsewhere with more dignity.
If their original burial was a full-blown respectful ceremony, then I suppose the local tribe will be thinking: "Why SHOULD we move them?"