Friday, December 6, 2013

Lucia Can't eat your lunch near long dead bodies

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the cultural sensitivity that is being brought up is actually invented for political gain. How else to explain the story today that Maori are will be offended that workers ate food outdoors near a place where archeological work was being carried out?

A Labour MP has accused Kapiti Expressway workers of being "extremely offensive" to Maori by eating their lunch at a wahi tapu site as historical human remains lay nearby.

Darien Fenton said at a transport and industrial relations select committee meeting yesterday that the workers were spotted eating their lunch at the wahi tapu site at El Rancho, Waikanae, which includes the Takamore urupa, and a macrocarpa known as the Maketu tree.

But the New Zealand Transport Agency denied that the particular site in question was wahi tapu, and believed appropriate protocols were followed.

Ms Fenton told the committee she had spoken to two women from Te Ati Awa. "[They] understood the site was tapu until the archaeologists had finished their work, yet we found workers having lunch onsite which was extremely offensive to local Maori."

Speaking later, she said that seeing workers eating on the sacred site, with recently discovered human remains from the burial site nearby, had shocked her.

"It was incredibly culturally insensitive and showed a degree of ignorance I didn't think existed in New Zealand any more.

"I was pretty gobsmacked by it all. People are already stressed enough. Everybody should know that the whole site is wahi tapu."

Maori used to eat people and yet they can be offended when others eat any other type of food near long dead bodies? How does that make any sense??

Related link: Workers eating at 'sacred' site offend Maori - MP ~ Stuff

2 comment(s):

Muerk said...

Food is noa (common) and the body is tapu (sacred) in Maori culture. I think it's reasonable to be mindful of people's cultural and religious beliefs when you are in their space. Likewise I wouldn't expect workers to sit down and eat lunch in a church.

ZenTiger said...

The obvious problem here is the workers didn't realise they were in a "sacred space". You know you are in a church when you are in a church. When you are in a grassy area with trees, it can often look like a grassy area with trees.

Sounds like the people complaining love to complain to "authorities" but are not so bothered to walk over and talk nicely, or perhaps even consider a sign? The news report doesn't mention any of that, so I am just left with the impression that men going about their business can be attacked for having lunch in a grassy area with a tree.

And who knows, as Lucia says, the Maori bones may turn out to be "lunch" which would make the whole thing totally hypocritical.

On another note, I recall many a pleasant lunch around the gravestones of the Bolton Street cemetery. Looking at the headstones whilst sitting and eating gives time to pause and reflect on the lives that came before us.

Turning to Michael King’s Penguin History of New Zealand, he certainly does examine the short, brutal lives of Maori, cut short often by premeditated acts of violence: “As Maori oral tradition recorded, and ancient burials have confirmed, elderly people, women and children, along with defeated male warriors, were periodic subjects for torture, killing and cannibalism.” (p. 87)

King also cites the Grass Cove incident of 1773 in which ten of Captain Cook’s crew were victims of Maori cannibalism to underscore the misunderstandings of first contacts between Maori and Europeans, despite Cook’s generally enlightened and moderate approach to indigenous peoples in the Pacific (p. 106).

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