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May 31, 2014 | by  | in Homepage |
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Te Ao Mārama Editorial

There will be many people around this university who will be feeling left out after looking at the front cover of this issue. The intention is to help you feel just that.

If you are not interested in Māori culture you will read little, if anything, in this Salient – and so perpetuate your ignorance.

From the editorial written for the first Te Ao Mārama in 1972 by Gil Peterson

In Germany, someone from the government comes to your town when you are young, assesses your abilities, and then tells you what you will do in life – some are sent to university, some to apprenticeships. As a result, the German people are some of the most wealthy in the world and very few are unemployed. The same system wouldn’t work in New Zealand – if some bureaucrat told us we couldn’t go to university, we would tell them to shove it.

What does this have to do with the Te Ao Mārama issue of Salient? The point is that different cultures react differently to different policies. That should be the starting point of any discussion about ‘special treatment’. Just as German policies that work for Germans wouldn’t work for New Zealanders, some policies that work for Pākehā don’t work for Māori. We already accept this basic premise in other cases – we tax the poor less, we give extra help to children with learning disabilities. This isn’t controversial. But for some ugly reason, helping Māori is.

Although we are all New Zealanders, there is certainly a distinct Māori culture. Just like every other culture, it has its strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, what follows are generalisations, but culture is by nature general. Māori are the most warm, friendly and engaging people. Māori are accommodating and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. Respect for traditions and elders is ingrained. Love is on full display, and humour abounds. Despite all the hardship, Māori are such a happy people.

It’s not controversial to say that Māori are also vulnerable to weaknesses. Educational attainment is hugely lacking – 50 per cent of Māori males leave school without passing Level 1 English. Māori are over-represented in prison and poverty, and under-represented in Parliament and workforce participation. Many are trapped in a triad of vices – smoking, alcoholism and obesity. To deny these weaknesses is to deny the systemic othering of Māori which led to these problems existing. Acknowledging weakness doesn’t lay blame. It lays bare past failings, and helps us identify how we can move forward so that the cycle does not continue.


Lots of people look at us and see two privileged white guys. Only one of us is. Cam is part-Māori, and identifies as a member of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Interestingly though, Cam’s mum was a whangae child (a Māori term describing a concept similar to adoption). By blood, Cam is descended from Ngāti Kahungunu.

This heritage has taught Cam two things: firstly, that certain Pākehā change their tone massively depending on their (perceived) audience. Similarly, Māori often treat him with suspicion or disdain. Being an undercover brother has shown him the dark underbelly of casual, everyday racism. This isn’t always sinister; more often than not, it’s just a lack of understanding. When people don’t understand, their first response is often fear, followed by discrimination.

The other thing he’s realised is that the obsession with the physical masks the cultural. Blood quantum, skin tone, birth parents – these all warp what it means to be Māori. Physical attributes don’t make you Māori – a Pākehā adopted into a Māori family is Māori. To put physical conditions on a culture is to exclude those not fortunate enough to be born within it. Anyone can be Māori.

We can should must identify with aspects of the Māori culture, if we are to identify as New Zealanders. A traditional belief of many Māori is that we walk through life backwards, our eyes to the past, not knowing what the future brings. Watching our life unfold, navigating our way forward by reference to what’s been. That’s an objectively beautiful way of thinking about life. The concept of ‘utu’ (so often bastardised as ‘revenge’, with all of that word’s aggressive connotations) actually means ‘reciprocity’. If someone does right by you, you need to return the favour. If someone wrongs you, they owe you. Ideas of balance, fairness, karma, justice and utu are universal; they just have different names.


This week, we are really proud of what has been produced. There are 40 pages of content showcasing the views and ideas and feelings and concerns of Māori students at Vic. Half the content is in Te Reo, half in English. Challenge yourself to read all of it – surprise yourself with how many words you recognise. If you get stuck, ask a Māori friend to help. If you don’t have a Māori friend, ask yourself why not. If you don’t want to engage with this edition, don’t. You don’t have to. We can’t force you. But just know that being ignorant of the Māori worldview is your loss.

Finally, we want to thank everyone from Ngāi Tauira for making this amazing issue a reality. Special thanks go to Te Po for being our guest editor for the week. Also to Elijah and Mikaia, co-presidents of Ngāi Tauira, for their patience and grace. And to Tanja for being Salient‘s resident mum for a week. We loved having you all in the office.

Our contributor of the week is Imogen, our designer. We can all agree that she’s done a fantastic job designing so many different pieces.

Have a great holiday. We will see you all after the break.

Duncan & Cam


“Pinepine te kura ,hau te kura

Whanake te kura I raro I Awarua

Ko te kura nui, ko te kura roa,

Ko te kura o tawhiti nā Tu-hae-po                                     

Tenei te tira hou, tenei haramai nei;

Ko Te Umu-rangi, na Te Whatu-i-apiti

Nau mai, e tama, ki te taiao nei

Ki whakangungu a koe ki te kahikatoa,

Ki te tumatakuru, ki te taongaonga;

Nga tairo e nahau, e Kupe

I waiho I te ao nei.”

He moteatea tēnei kua whakatinana i tōku nei titiro ki te ao, mai i te titiro a tōku nei iwi o Ngāti Kahungunu. Ka tū whakahihi ana au i runga i te tihi, i te pito o tōku maunga a Otatara, ka titiro whakamua ki Te Whanaui-A-Orotu. Ka puta te whakaaro ko wai au i te iwi Māori, ko wai  au i te iwi Pākehā? I te ao e noho nei au, ka rere ōku toto i ngā wai mārino o tōku awa a Tūtaekurī, ka teretere tōku tuakiri i ngā piko o Otatara rā. I te ao Pākehā ka tahuri ōku whakaaro ki ngā pukapuka a te whare wananga, ka rongo ōku taringa ki ngā tini reo mātauranga e karawhiua mai ana e ōku kaiako.

Kei tēnā tangata tōna kanohi, kei tēnā tangata tōna kōrero tāhūhū

Ko te kanohi o te tangata  he ōrite ki te whakaahuatanga o tētahi whakairo. Ko te kanohi tonute whakairo. He moko kāore i āta tākia e te kaitā, he moko tākia e te ngākau.

He tātai whakapapa ki te whenua, he tātai whakapapa ki ngā tīpuna o nehe rā

He hītori e whātoro atu ana ki Hawaiki nui, ki Hawaiki roa, ki Hawaiki pamamao

Ko te hinengaro te kaipupuri i tō mōhio ki te ao: kete tuauri, kete tuatea,  kete āronui.

Kei te mata tōna reo e whakakupu ana i taua mōhio ki te ao.

Ka tū whererei ngā poupou i roto i te wharenui o Te Tumu Herenga Waka.  He kanohi ēnei tipua whakairo hei whakatauira atu ki te marea kei hea te taumata hei whai, mai i te wā e kuhu atu ana ki tōna poho, tae atu anō ki te wā ka wehe atu ka whakapōtaehia ana. Inā rā te kōrero, “E tū, e hine, e tama mā whakaarahia ake ngā poupou o tō whare o Te Herenga Waka.” Me whakarangatira ēnei pou, ngā kanohi nei o aua matua tīpuna ko mātou hei pokohiwi mā rātou.Ka pā te waewae ki te papa o tēnei whare tapu, kua tangata whenua koe. Kua herea tō waka ki tōna tauranga, kua pae ki uta.

E mihi kau ana ki a koutou, otirā ki a tātou katoa i tēnei putanga o Te Ao Marama 2014,

Te Po Marie Hawaikirangi


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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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