Maori culture increasing in importance to NZers

By Paul Harper

There has been an upsurge in the number of New Zealanders who consider Maori culture to be an 'essential component' of New Zealand society. Photo / Northern Advocate
There has been an upsurge in the number of New Zealanders who consider Maori culture to be an 'essential component' of New Zealand society. Photo / Northern Advocate

The acceptance of Maori culture as an important part of New Zealand society will only increase further in the future, history professor Paul Moon says.

According to the Roy Morgan State of the Nation March 2012 report, there has been an upsurge in the number of New Zealanders who consider Maori culture to be an "essential component" of New Zealand society.

Importance of Maori culture to New Zealanders

In December 2001, 52 per cent of respondents said it was essential, compared to 61 per cent a decade later, although in the past three years the figure has remained steady around the 60 per cent mark.

Dr Moon, professor of history at the AUT's Faculty of Maori Development, said the figure is "bound to" get higher in the future.

"It's a demographic fact, a cultural fact and a social maturity fact that increasingly we will begin to see that aspect of the culture as integral to New Zealand society.

"Go back to your grandparents' time, going to school before the Second World War, if they lived in the city the chances are they probably didn't have a single Maori person in their class, and their culture was still seen as something that belonged in a museum like an exhibit - that's the way it has often been treated.

"That's a common pre-War perception. That has completely changed, of course. So there has been almost a revolution in the perception of the culture, a trend that is likely to increase."

Dr Moon said the increase was down to two components - long-term factors such as programmes teaching Te Reo and tikanga Maori, and events which put New Zealand on the world stage, such as the Rugby World Cup.

"The more we are in the international spotlight for an event like the Rugby World Cup, the more the indigenous culture tends to fall under the spotlight."

Performers and artists such as singer Tiki Taane who combine traditional Maori culture with contemporary elements also boost acceptance.

"I think that is where the biggest advances are taking place, because there are almost two strands of Maori culture running side by side. When most people think of [Maori culture] they might think of a haka performance, or a hangi, or an event at a marae, that's the sort we tend to put on for tourists. But there is a whole other dimension of Maori culture, such as Tiki Taane who are mixing traditional elements with more contemporary ones, there are artists, writers, poets, dancers, that whole modern aspect of culture that tends to get sidelined popularly, but are still very important and is gradually making more penetration."

Dr Moon said the survey did not say whether respondents answer how they perceive Maori culture in society, or how they would like to see it.

"But certainly if you were to look at New Zealand from an overseas perspective... I think the results would be very high that it is an essential part of the culture. The fact that Maori culture is the indigenous culture and does not appear anywhere else in the world, that adds to its importance."

- NZ Herald online

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 24 Apr 2014 11:34:51 Processing Time: 14ms