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Superstition encouraged at Te Papa

Pregnant or menstruating women are asked to not go to a special behind the scenes exihibit at Te Papa, because something "bad" could happen if they do.

This is superstition, plain and simple. When Christianity declines, barbaric superstitions fill the void.

But wait, there's more.
Women cannot go into the garden, on to the beach or in the kitchen when they are menstruating.

“It’s a very serious violation of tapu for women to do those things while menstruating. Women cannot have anything to do with the preparation of food while they are menstruating.”

I’m stunned. I wonder if women who are menstruating are “sacred” (like pregnant women) and therefore the food will do something bad to them if they touch it. Likewise the garden, full of evil things like plants and rocks.

So, what will happen if Maori ever manage to get hold of the beaches*. Will menstruating women be banned from them? Will there be special police around making sure that menstruating women do not set foot there? The mind boggles.

Hattip: Lance on Kiwiblog

Related link: Anger at Te Papa ban on pregnant women

* 13 year old son made this connection.


  1. Maori do have control of the beaches! The Marine & Coastal Area Bill has the numbers to get through by the end of summer & it gives Maori the right to impose tapu on the beaches and have "violators" arrested and fined $5000. So make the most of this summer girls - might be the last for we the unclean sex.

  2. Sis,

    I really thought I could not be surprised anymore, but this really does it.

  3. Let me say at the outset that I think this is just another example of the stupidity of pandering to stone age savages, rather than helping them adjust to the silicone age.

    However, I cannot let When Christianity declines, barbaric superstitions fill the void. go by unremarked.

    I think that you'll find maori had their barbaric superstitions long before they had any intimation of christianity, and in fact they can probaly trace that barbarsism back to before the origins of xianity.

    Then, there are those who would also lump xianity in to the barbaric superstition fold, although as is often pointed out, most xians ignore the unpalatable parts of their chosen superstition and just hold to the cuddlier bits.

    The decline off all superstitions is the best hope Man has of realising His full potential.

  4. Sis, do you have a link for that? If so, I'd like to put up a post about it over at my place. Thanks.

  5. I'm actually okay with this. Not because I believe in the Maori concept of tapu/noa but because I know how I would want my sacred objects to be treated. So for example I would want people coming into Catholic churchs to be dressed modestly.

    I think we need to treat others how we would wish to be treated.

  6. Muerk,

    After thinking about this more, here is a comment I left on Kiwiblog that explains (in my mind) why this is wrong:

    Being respectful to other cultures should be limited to actions. Menstruation is something that happens, that I can’t control, that is part of being a woman. It’s not an action. It’s not like being asked to cover up bare arms, for instance. So to say that in order to be respectful, I should not enter into certain spaces because I happen to be experiencing a natural, regular bodily function that is easily contained using modern sanitary products because someone thinks that I may be attacked by an evil spirit if I happen to be in the vicinity of an ancient weapon, or go into the garden or frolic on the beach goes way, way, way beyond the request for being respectful.

    So I don't think there is much of a comparison with our own sacred objects. It would be like us saying that any woman who has eaten is not allowed into the church, or any woman who happens to be having a bad hair day can't step in because then Satan might cause another person to drop dead.

    It's restricted to women only, and the request itself goes beyond the bounds of common decency and respect for others, and that is why I object to it.

  7. I think it was important for Maori who lent the objects to Te Papa to explain what they believed re: the spiritual issues around these objects and women who are menstruating/pregnant. As far as I know no one is enforcing this, and women can choose to ignore it.

    I think Maori should be able to explain their position, and I think we should be free to ignore it if we choose, although I think we should respect that these are their taonga, although Maori concern seems to be for the women and their babies, and not the objects.

    Maori and Catholics share something - the belief in an unseen spiritual world. They say that certain objects have a wairua or spirit. Maybe they are right, although maybe we would describe it as demonic. Demons and angels are everywhere, not just with Christian people.

    I wear a scapular and the miraculous medal. We have holy water in our house so that we can bless ourselves. We have a rosary in our car and we have lots of holy images on our walls, some are blessed. We do this because we want our house to be safe and the Devil doesn't like these things.

    I find holy water keeps away nightmares from our children.

    Now to an atheist, these things are silly. But they are meaningful to us as Catholics. I'm not prepared to treat Maori spirituality as utter rubbish or superstition because who knows. Maybe there is something dangerous about certain Maori spirits, we would just cal them by a different name.

  8. muerk, no wonder you think " we should respect that these are their taonga" when you have fallen victim to another form of bullshit yourself.

    "I find holy water keeps away nightmares from our children."

    I found that making a safe home and explaining the real reason for things that go bump in the night helped my kids avoid nightmares. Also, no doubt the lack of torture images in the house helped with that!

    " Maybe there is something dangerous about certain Maori spirits, we would just cal them by a different name."

    Yep, fall for one line of religious bullshit, you'll fall for any line of religious bullshit.

  9. Neither of which, as you well know, are religions. Nor are the one and the same, although the ignorant like to try to tie them together, just as the pope tries to tie atheism to nazism.

    Atheism is a reasoned position. We are all born atheists, sadly most of us are indoctrinated in to one "faith" or another by parents who were previously indoctrinated.

    However, Marx was right in his summation of religion as a way to keep people mired in ignorance and docile.

  10. LRO if Atheism is reason and rational how come you are both unreasonable and irrational>?

    I'm with muerk on this, not only is it courteous to respect others customs it might be wise as well since some of those objects might be satanic though for baptized believers they will be harmless.

  11. Superstition encouraged at Te Papa

    Somehow, this was exactly the last blog on which I would have expected to find people calling this kind of thing "superstition." Suddenly you're ruling out the possibility that physical objects can be associated with spiritual effects? Sure, I rule that out. But Christians?

  12. Sorry andrei,

    I forgot that it is rational to believe "holy water" stops nightmares, that it is reasonable to deny children an education in case they find out your myths are just, well, myths. I forgot it is ratioanl to to do good because if I don't a sky pixie will punish me, rather than doing good because it is, well, good. I forgot it is reasonable to believe a biscuit becomes the "body of christ".

    Nah, I prefer my reason and rationalism to you bullshit and bluster any day.

  13. In regards to the devil, I like to follow the advice of the previous exorcist of Rome who said that our children's best protection is their innocence and our best protection is to know the devil exists, but not pay him too much attention. Not believing he is real and getting too obsessive are both dangerous. Our Lord defeated him 2000 years ago, he's a loser and is just trying to drag people down to hell with him.

    I also agree that angels and demons are everywhere. God allows demons to tempt us. It happens frequently, and really, I don't worry too much about that, either. Each temptation is a means of personal victory if I triumph in ignoring it.

    Some objects may actually have an evil something or other in them. I have personally got rid of such an item a number of years back. It never did anything to me, though, because I never opened myself up to it.

    I have opened myself up before to evil though, and it's truly horrible. It's like being crushed in a vice from all sides. It was a momentary thought that I succumbed to thinking I could feel the energy of an old building I was in. The effect was instantaneous, and my NO was heard by God, thank God, and it stopped. I was just incredibly sick for two days afterwards. Probably ranks up there as one of the stupidest things I've ever done.

    The thing with this Maori requirement for women not to go near these objects, and also not to go into the garden and the beach while menstruating has triggered my alarm bells. If it were just the objects, then maybe I could see the point, but the garden and the beach as well? And why are women in more danger if they are menstruating near the objects? What is that about?

    Maybe the old Maori warriors were afraid of their women when they were hormonal, and tried to fool them into not going near their weapons as a self-preservation tactic?

    Sounds bogus to me, whatever the reason.

  14. "Sounds bogus to me, whatever the reason."

    Maybe, maybe not. But these taonga belong to the iwi, not Te Papa and the iwi have generously shared them with us. I think we would do well to respect their tikanga, just we would want respect for our sacred places and objects.

    I think the issue with the garden and the beach is kai is noa, and women who are menstruating are tapu. So you wouldn't sit on a table because the body is tapu and food is noa.

  15. Muerk,

    You should be aware that there is a sin of superstition. Pandering to those things that we know are false under the guise of "respect", I think would fall under that sin.

    Here's the description of Superstition in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    It's one thing to allow people their superstitions, it's another to actively participate.

  16. I'm not sure if tikanga counts as superstition though. It may be religious. Hmmm... Would we describe Jewish Law re: menstruation and the clean/unclean idea as superstition or would we regard that as a religious observance? Obviously Jesus freed us from the Law by giving us the Spirit of the Law, but prior to that, were the Jews superstitious or religious when they observed these kinds of rules?

    Certainly much Catholic practice would be seen as superstition, sacramentals for example. We can see that on this thread.

    Something that interests me is that people keep bringing up Catholicism in regards to this debate. On Kiwiblog Davaid Farrar mentions it, and so does Idiot Savant on No Right Turn. Intriguing.

  17. Sadly it seems those who would happily embrace separation of church and state ignore animist religions.

    I several times objected to Maori prayer being utilised at public sector functions on the grounds that it was not a state religion, and that it at best is irrelevant and at worst highly offensive to those who don't share that belief.

    Of course I did this when Labour was in government but I suspect nothing has changed since the current government is propped up in part by a party defined by seeking state sanctioned racial preference.

  18. All superstitions are just that superstitions and only the adherents believe in their magic and reverence. Respect to me is earned not given automatically. I have no more respect, probably less if honest, for a priest than my plumber. If these artifacts do have some spiritual method of harming pregnant and menstruating women – then let’s hear it. Until this detail on how the items are potential harmful is revealed other than “we believe it” then this superstition is worthy of no respect and anyone should be able to view them or the exhibit pulled. Still on a scale of silly-beliefs I put the Maori artifacts below The Catholic Churches ‘transubstantiation’ load of bullocks.

    Gotta go.


  19. The thing is, the Crown signed a treaty with Maori and with that comes responsibilities and duties. We see State sanctioned racial/cultural preference only because we can't see how our own culture and ethnicity is already completely dominant.

    We expect Maori to speak English, wear European clothes, use European manners, the Maori Party has to work within a European based political and legal system.

    Lets be brutal and _honest_ here - there is already state sactioned cultural preference - the Pakeha one.

    Heck, an iwi can't even graciously LEND their stuff to the state museum without being told their beliefs around these objects are "superstitious bullshit" (quoting David Farrar here).

    Jesus, as always, has the answer - Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.


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