what makes something Māori?
*Something* not someone. If you wanna wave your more-Māori-than-thou flag around, you’ve probably alienated yourself from those around you anyway, so do as you will. Kei tō whakapapa, if you have Māori ancestry - you’re Māori. You could not know where or who you descend from, you could not speak Māori or think aligned with your whānau/hapū/iwi (family/subtribe/tribe) kawa (protocols) and values, or only just learn of your heritage yesterday - still Māori. How you connect and recognise that for yourself, up to you. #whakapapa #movingon. Anyway, that’s not what this post is about - I’m talking about workshops, events, courses, products, inanimate objects, businesses…
if it has a Māori name, does that make it Māori?
If it has a Māori design, like kōwhaiwhai patterns - does that make it Māori? If it has te reo Māori, or whakatauki/āki (proverb) included in any part of it - does that make it Māori? And therefore in contrast, if it doesn’t have any te reo Māori or symbolic representations of te ao Māori within the design, application or use - can it still be a Māori something? What if the people behind or involved with the products and operations aren’t Māori but have jumped aboard the waka (canoe) and are profiting from their ‘Māori products’?
Add all of this to the thread of “the complexities of being Māori”. What actually makes something Māori?! If the example in the first paragraph is anything to go by, I reckon taking a closer look at its whakapapa is a pretty good start. This shouldn’t be a surprise because I talk about it allllll the time. Remember, this is my blog so this is just my opinion, not the opinion. But whakapapa is eeeeverything. Take a second to think about the following examples:
Pākeha workshop with a Māori name? Tiki made in bulk, imported from overseas and sold by foreigners in a souvenir shop?
It’s not just about how one or two aspects of te ao Māori is weaved into creating final product or delivery, like the name or a humble koru. But the whole thing. Mai i Te Kore ki Te Pō ki Te Ao Mārama / from potential/thought, to assembly/processes, to the physical manifestation/result/experience.
Again, just my whakaaro - keen to hear yours.