I got some good news on Thursday. I passed my third year of Māori language classes. I'm surprised. My classmates will probably be surprised at this news too.
Thursday was also the day that I read the newspaper story about the Woman Who Isn't Māori. I'm less surprised at this.
We know this woman isn't Māori because she told the Air New Zealand Facebook account she wasn't Māori when the Air New Zealand Facebook account said "kia ora" to her in a message. When she said she wasn't Māori, the Air New Zealand account got smart and sent back a Māori phrase, and she replied with "I'm still not Māori".
Clown move. She knows you don't have to be Māori to understand the phrase "kia ora". And if she wants to be intransigent about this, she should see my third-year class. It'd blow her mind.
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Goes without saying she wouldn't be surprised by some of us in the class. She'd probably be expecting the group of young Māori women and the middle-aged Māori couple. She'd probably also be expecting the smattering of Pākehā do-gooders. Pākehā broadcaster, Pākehā public servant, Pākehā married couple doing social work, Pākehā wearing greenstone. Of course we'd all be doing the class. Probably all a bit woke.
But, she might be surprised to meet the Three Musketeers. The builder, the fireman and the engineer. Each of them still young enough to be spending their Wednesday nights at the pub, not sitting for three hours with their shoes off in a damp room in Wellington's Tennyson St. Each of them so much like your dad or your brother you'd expect them to spend their Saturdays running around the rugby pitch. And they probably still do. But, that's Saturdays. Wednesdays are for learning te reo Māori. Which, as I said, would blow the mind of the Woman Who Isn't Māori. And, given that two of them look as Pākehā as, and all of them exude that Kiwi Rugby Bloke vibe, if the Woman Who Isn't Māori met them in a pub, she would probably think she was safe to whinge about the time Air New Zealand said "kia ora" to her. She'd get a surprise.
Anyway, the reason I'm telling you this is because I'd hate for the Woman Who Isn't Māori to go on pretending that "kia ora" is a phrase used by only Māori New Zealanders, and by woke Pākehā who see some career benefit in driving all the way to Hawke's Bay for a course-required weekend at the marae, and by companies who see branding benefit in co-opting a bit of Māori culture.
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I'd hate for her to think that any of us find her obnoxiousness amusing.
But I'd also like to call a truce with her and with anyone else who feels like she does. I'm going to hazard a guess that she's probably feeling a bit raw about being told what to do. I'd bet someone at some stage has told her off for not pronouncing Māori words properly. I can understand why that would rub her up the wrong way. It rubs me up the wrong way. We're more likely nowadays to correct an English-speaker's Māori pronunciation than an English-speaker's English pronunciation. We're are more likely to tell someone "that's not how you say Taupō" than "Prime Minister, the word 'something' does not end with the letter k".
So I get where she's coming from. She's feeling under siege. And maybe the more woke among us need to have a think about the reaction you create when you force changes on other people.
So here's the proposed truce. To the Woman Who Isn't Māori, you don't have to say "kia ora" or even pronounce Taupō properly. But, if someone wants to say "kia ora" to you, you know what it means, don't be a clown.