If the tattooed heads must be returned to NZ, shouldn’t the guns go back to Europe?

November 14, 2014
Fred failed to return from his head-gathering trip, but look what's arrived instead...

Fred failed to return from his head-gathering trip, but look what’s arrived instead…

Our indigenous persons must be hooting with great delight, once they’ve finished weeping and wailing during ceremonies to welcome the return of tattooed heads from overseas.

Whether they can tell which heads belong to which tribes is a good question.

Whether they have been reclaiming pakeha heads – it transpires – is another good question.

This account of what’s going on from an American perspective was given a year ago in USA Today:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Even the roar of gale-force winds couldn’t drown out the weeping and wailing of dozens of New Zealand Maoris as they welcomed home ancestors.

The arrival this month of the remains of 13 Maori warriors from collections at museums and universities in England, Ireland and the islands of Guernsey, was a victory for the indigenous people of New Zealand.

For decades, Maoris from this South Pacific island have been fighting with institutions around the world for the return of an estimated 600 preserved tattooed heads known as toi moko, and skeletal remains called koiwi tangata.

The Maoris persuaded France and England to turn over some public collections, but hundreds of known remains worldwide have not come home.

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

October 13, 2010

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”.

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Margaret Mutu tells us more about the mystical matter of Maori and menstruation

October 12, 2010

Uh, oh. Looks like anyone who takes Alf’s advice and protests against Te Papa for basing its policies on superstition could be in for a rough ride.

Chances are such champions of common sense and progress will suffer the same fate as Paul Henry, and be denounced as racists, or as culturally insensitive, or something.

Alf sounds this note of caution on learning that Margaret Mutu has got in on the act after the Dom Post revealed that pregnant or menstruating women are being discriminated against at Te Papa “for their own safety.”

She has gone out to bat for the idea that pregnant and menstruating women must be kept out of certain areas, which happen to include gardens and fishing grounds as well as Te Papa.

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Here’s a matter worthy of protest action – Te Papa’s advice to pregnant and menstruating women

October 12, 2010

Pregnant women shouldn't walk under ladders, either...

The mandarins who run our national museum have succumbed to superstition, although they tell us they are simply respecting somebody’s belief system.

They are advising pregnant or menstruating women against attending a Te Papa exhibit “for their own safety.”

An invitation for regional museums to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of some of Te Papa’s collections included the condition that “wahine who are either hapu [pregnant] or mate wahine [menstruating]” were unable to attend.

Te Papa spokeswoman Jane Keig said the policy was in place because of Maori beliefs surrounding the taonga Maori collection included in the tour.

“There are items within that collection that have been used in sacred rituals.

“That rule is in place with consideration for both the safety of the taonga and the women,” Keig said.

Oh yes. We can always come up with a credible-sounding rationale for a ridiculous rule.

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Uh, oh – Vanda’s back in the headlines

June 27, 2009

Names weren’t needed. Alf knew immediately which one was involved when he spotted the headline: Deputy quits after clash at museum.

He was right. It was the Auckland Museum. And yep – the story revealed yet another contretemps involving its director, Vanda Vitali. The woman has a remarkable flair for whipping up trouble.
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