FRIDAY Fast Five: The struggle continues

This week we lost Ranginui Walker. So great was his contribution to Aotearoa academia, and a robust Māori identity that anecdotes of him as a leader, visionary and good person have been a constant presence over the last few days. His seminal volume Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End is a mainstay in history and Māori studies departments throughout the country as Ranginui articulated the pain carried through generations of Māori by the forces of colonisation. Colonisation is a thorny topic, one that many New Zealanders are loathe to engage in and are quick to underestimate it as the root cause for many ills of society. This was not a deterrent for Ranginui and we must thank him for his tenacity in reminding us that the enduring struggle comes from the enduring pain, ka mamae tonu mātou. In 2004 Ranginui wrote in the Preface to the Second Edition of Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou:

“In recent years it has been fashionable to discuss Māori-Pākehā relationships as post-colonial, with 1985 as the watershed when the Waitangi Tribunal was made retrospective to 1840. Hawaiian academic Haunani Trask on hearing the term used for the first time said, ‘Have they left?’ With the Government’s expropriation of Māori customary rights to the foreshore and seabed by legislative fiat, it would seem not, and so the struggle without end continues.” 

With this in mind, today’s Fast Five will explain why Māori continue to assert tino rangatiratanga.

1. Tiffany Jenkins

A blog post written by Jenkins took on a life of its own last week as museum workers throughout Aotearoa baulked at the imperial overtones throughout her piece. I don’t want to give her piece any further thought as it made me so incredulously mad at how out of touch it was but this wee snippet illustrates exactly why what Ranginui wrote ten years ago is still so relevant: “But museums’ quest for knowledge is today under strain, amid angry debates over who owns culture. When it comes to requests from once colonised peoples, cultural institutions are timid.”

In a swift move, Director of the Dowse Art Museum, Courtney Johnston diffused the heated reactions of the masses by posting a response to Jenkins’ blog.

2. Self-representation

In this beautiful tribute to Ranginui written by curator Puawai Cairns and writer Paora Tibble, Ranginui’s understanding of the multiplicity of Māori identities is mentioned. A twitter user, @ranginui, tweeted about how Ranginui corrected him when he described himself as part-Māori, “You’re Māori, there’s no parts.” I will pass this on to my kids.

3. Metro Magazine tweet

Kei te hē, kei te hē, kei te hē. Try again. Not acknowledging my forebears whilst trying to get me to vote for something I feel was undemocratically chosen is wrong.

4. Māori critical art writers

When I wrote my reaction to the Mongrel Mob exhibition, it was partly driven by the fact that I could not find a review written by a Māori person. Where were the reactions from Māori? Were they not asked for? I want to read art opinions from te ao Māori but for whatever reason, they are not as prolific as those of Pākehā, why not? In the websites that critically cover art, Māori viewpoints are underrepresented, why?

5. Emma Ng

This is probably one of the most insightful interviews I have ever read. Emma is acutely aware of issues of diversity and this has manifested during her tenure at Enjoy Gallery. I took heart in her thoughts about the power in relationships between minorities and will eagerly see how that evolves in the years to come. It is a conversation that needs to be had more widely.

For some reason I remembered this song which I haven't listened to in years. It's a good one: