The All Blacks are in the UK, they’ll be doing the haka. All New Zealanders will cheer and beam with pride as they do it. Those of us lucky to be at the venues will no doubt pine for home.
That is the Maori within us, that is what being a New Zealander is.
Why then do some of us struggle so much with this reality when we’re at home? What makes us want to cherry pick those aspects of Maori identity and culture for our own use when it suits, but reject the concept of the bicultural society when we fear it might cost us? Are we free loaders or just too blind to see that what sets New Zealanders apart from other cultures is, at least in part, is the “Maoriness” in us all.
Dick Frizzell’s interview for our Talk Treaty project relates how once he’d discovered the Maori within, he confronted it head on with his art, showing what a New Zealander is. That work was too much for some – the art establishment for one, the Maori correctness movement for another. To that Dick replied,
‘The idea that you can keep a culture alive by choking it to death is ridiculous … sometimes you have to turn it upside down and shake it around a bit.’
And in the end, his imagery resonated strongly with his audience – us, the New Zealanders.