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May 21, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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NT: Te Ara Tauira

Mi Casa, Su Casa
I’ve noticed that when shoes come off at the marae, they seem to enter a period of liminalness, of no longer belonging to the individual, but to the collective.
List of the 5 Types of Shoes Most Likely to Disappear (or be “borrowed”) at the marae:
1. Jandals — Easy to put on, easy to take off. Socks:optional.
2. Nike Scuffs — One of the most common choices of footwear for young Māori students. Stylish and branded, but just as convenient as jandals. Also the hardest to track down if stolen, as they are all identical.

3. Red-bands/ Gumboots — Staple for rainy Wellington weather. Perfect for traversing muddy terrain and most likely seen on homesick East Coast students seeking familiarity and the comfort of home.
4. Slippers — Arguably the most multipurpose footwear — the shoe that seems to be neither tapu nor noa, can be seen outside, in the wharenui, wharepaku, and lecture theatres. Very likely to be “borrowed” (with exception of the symbolic pair that seem to have been outside the whare since the beginning of time, that are so worn down that they’re practically soleless).

5. Branded sneakers (primarily Nike and Adidas) — Most sought after shoe, but the least accessible considering their rarity. Anyone who’s been to a marae before knows better than to put their best shoes on display.

I guess some people would see the tendency for shoes to “disappear” from the marae as exemplifying the stereotype of “Māori criminality”. But to them I would say the fluidity of ownership that is issued upon personal belongings while at the marae is one of the most visible and prominent forms of whanaungatanga, and acts as a notion of connection and kinship. After all it could be argued that we’re just taking heed of the Pākehā notion of taking a “walk in someone else’s shoes”.

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