We should be encouraging women to come to Te Papa – so let’s keep out the taonga instead

Alf admires a politician who is prepared to stick his neck out and – in the case of Te Papa – seem to be over-ruling a bit of superstitious nonsense emanating from the mandarins who run the joint.

Hats off, therefore, to Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson.

Today he is quoted as saying the controversial warning to pregnant or menstruating women to stay away from Maori artefacts at Te Papa is simply an advisory.

Women can decide to ignore it.

If you want to find out what this fuss is all about – as viewed by the country’s bloggers, anyway – you should check out the post on the matter at Homepaddock.

It includes a reference to a post by the admirable Cactus Kate, headed: “Cook Your Own F**ing Eggs I’m Menstruating”.

Millions of public dollars are pumped into Te Papa, of course, a good lump of it paid by menstruating women.

Alf supposes the tax money collected from these menstruating women is in serious need of laundering – in the Maori belief system – before it is fit to fund Maori health or education schemes, or is used to store taonga. He does not know how the laundering is done.

But he can give a steer to the sorts of sums involved in trying to keep Te Papa afloat.

The data – from 2007/08 and hence a bit outdated because Alf was too busy with his whisky bottle to track down the up-to-date stuff – come from the Audit Office.

Financial performance – Te Papa reported increased revenue, including an additional $3 million of Crown revenue and increased sponsorship and exhibition revenue. Te Papa also reported a net deficit of $9.585 million compared to $14.026 million in 2007/08 and a budgeted deficit for 2008/09 of $15.280 million.

The involvement of public funding presumably prompted the media to quiz the Minister on the matter and-

Mr Finlayson said he did not get involved in the day-to-day running of Te Papa, but he understood that the message was not an instruction.

“It’s an advisory requested by the iwi, but it’s for people to make up their own minds,” he said.

Indeed, he is right, according to the museum mouthpieces who have hastened to clarify the position.

But on this occasion we are talking about a special tour for representatives from small museums, art galleries, heritage organisations, the arts and cultural sector or iwi organisations.

And as learn from The Hand Mirror, those who received the invitation were somewhat bluntly advised:

Wahine who are either hapü (pregnant) or mate wähine (menstruating) are welcome to visit at another time that is convenient for them.

At Stuff, we learn that the exhibit at the centre of the debate is the taonga collection.

The collection is not open to the general public but interested parties can arrange to view it.

Subject to the conditions we have mentioned, of course.

Maybe a medical certificate should be mandatory to get a gander at these hidden treasures.

The collection contains artefacts, including weapons that were used in warfare and items used in special ceremonies.

Many of the items in the collection are regarded as tapu, or forbidden, in Maori culture.


Alf is bothered by a state organisation hoarding forbidden stuff.

He urges the museum mandarins to get rid of the taonga and to give greater emphasis to encouraging more visits (especially from women in a delicate condition) to help out the finances.

Send it back to the iwi who are so anxious about who can see it.

Personally, he would light a bloody big bonfire as the cops would do to get rid of a pile of forbidden marijuana.

Oops. Forget about Alf’s insensitive use of “bloody” in that advice. Simply make it a big bonfire.

Then we can take Cactus Kate’s splendid advice and head for Shed 5 to engage in something much more to Alf’s taste than the tedium of looking at museum pieces.

3 Responses to We should be encouraging women to come to Te Papa – so let’s keep out the taonga instead

  1. […] We should be encouraging women to come to Te Papa at Alf Grumble. […]

  2. […] good has come out of a united Auckland already – South Island mayors are getting together to take a co-operative approach to ensure the Mainland’s voice is […]

  3. […] heard of somewhere in the bowels of Te Papa, a place best avoided by menstruating and pregnant women, the wee buggers have infested the Waitomo Caves, […]

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