Nearly 30 years ago the (then) Polynesian Festival was held for the first time in Te Waipounamu / the South Island of New Zealand. Renamed Te Matatini, this bi-annual cultural performing arts festival is returning to Ōtautahi on March 04-08th 2015.
This film clip about the 1986 Polynesian Festival includes recollections from some of the members of the Organising Committee, including my father-in-law Te Puraoterangi Parata, about their roles and responsibilities at that time. It also includes interviews with some of the 1986 performers from Waitaha and discusses their practices and performance at that time.
It seems only appropriate that my wife, Puamiria Parata-Goodall, is project managing the 2015 Te Matatini Festival; continuing the family tradition of overseeing the transmission of culture and learning and connection across the generations. Mauriora!!
I acknowledge Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for use of this footage.
This text is an essay included in “Back to the Māori Future” in Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, Max Rashbrooke (ed.), Wellington, Bridget Williams Books, June 2013.
Better by Design: back to the Māori future?
At the creation
It is interesting to speculate on the vision that the Māori leadership of the nineteenth century had in mind as they signed the Treaty of Waitangi, and what they may have envisaged a co-created Aotearoa New Zealand – and their role in that nation-building exercise – would look like.
A genuine blending of the Māori worldview, with its dynamic, community-grounded customs and values held in a frame of reciprocal responsibility to each other and the natural world, and the equally dynamic Western model, with its technologies and capital market economy and systems of management, would have been a heady mix indeed.
We do enjoy, fortunately, a unique Aotearoa New Zealand approach to life, one that shapes our view of both each other and the external world. But the merger – to date at least – has been a largely one-sided affair, with the indigenous instinct being overwhelmed by the globally dominant Western frame. It has taken a long time for Māori to tack their way back into the contemporary field, and the relatively impressive progress of late is still tentative and fragile.