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  • Originally published 07/30/2013

    Historian bemoans 'snap-frozen' Maori culture

    Maori culture has been cheapened, the haka has become a corrupted spectacle and Maori tourism villages are degrading, according to one of the country's leading historians.Paul Moon's criticisms come in his latest book, Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand, where the Auckland University of Technology academic takes a look at the changing New Zealand identity over the last couple of centuries.Speaking on Firstline this morning, Dr Moon said it was about time someone took aim at the version of Maori culture we – and especially the tourism industry – present to the world."For a long time, we've had a snap-frozen version of Maori culture that's been around since the late 19th century," he says....

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Polynesian navigators revive a skill that was nearly lost

    Two ocean-going canoes have returned to New Zealand after an epic voyage to Easter Island by Polynesian navigators using traditional craft. The revival of ancient skills continues to gather momentum and has great cultural and political significance for the indigenous people of the Pacific.They waded ashore from their canoes through the luminous turquoise water of the lagoon. The captains, festooned with garlands of flowers, led a procession of around 20 men and women, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, New Zealand Maoris and three sailors from Rapanui, better known to most of us as Easter Island.Then the band played, waiting dignitaries made speeches and girls from the High School, still in their uniforms, danced....

  • Originally published 07/14/2013

    Century-old photos pose a war puzzle

    Intriguing photographs have surfaced of a young woman wearing the uniform of a New Zealand military officer in the Somme region of northern France where the horrendous battle of World War I was fought.Her identity is not known. In one of four photographs which are almost 100 years old, the woman, wearing the distinctive "lemon-squeezer" New Zealand military hat, salutes while holding a cane in front of a tree in a walled garden. In contrast with the usual battlefield pictures, she is standing in a relaxed setting outside a house with shuttered windows.The woman, who wears a wedding ring, is shown both in uniform and wearing a blouse and skirt, in the four grainy black and white glass negatives found in the village of Hallencourt, which was a base behind the lines during the 1916 battle....

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    Te reo a 'poor cousin', tribunal told

    Te reo is an official language of New Zealand - but it's still treated as a poor cousin of English, the Waitangi Tribunal has been told.Kaumatua Erimana Taniora addressed the Tribunal yesterday about his hapu's loss of land and language as the third week of stage two hearings into Ngapuhi's Treaty claims got underway at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri. This week Whangaroa hapu are having their say....

  • Originally published 07/01/2013

    Iwi charged with role in saving Maori

    Today marks the start of the 38th Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week). It began in 1975 amid concerns about the health of the language and has grown into a week where community groups, companies and schools celebrate with a raft of activities.The Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, is calling for more iwi investment in te reo revitalisation and a wider acceptance from Maori that the language still stands in a precarious position.Census data from 2001 to 2006 revealed a drop in ability to hold an everyday conversation in Maori from 25.2 to 23.7 per cent. The figures are the most recent available until this year's figures are released.A new government language strategy is due by the end of the year but officials are already signalling that community initiatives which aim to get Maori speaking their own reo within their homes are an increasing focus....

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    Protection for south coast massacre site urged

    A massacre of 50 Maori on Wellington's south coast has been brought to light thanks to a lucky Google search.Historian Elsdon Best wrote a comprehensive history of Wellington Maori, The Land of Tara and They Who Settled It, in about 1919.However, an incident in which northern Maori swept into Wellington and killed 50 Ngati Ira iwi at Tarakena Bay about 1820 came to his attention only after his book was published.He told fellow historian Henry Christie, who wrote about it in 1931. Miramar military historian Allan Jenkins came across Christie's record of the massacre about 30 years ago but, despite numerous searches, was unable to find it again....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Pre-quake Christchurch being forgotten, says historian

    Memories of Christchurch before earthquakes destroyed much of the central city are being forgotten, a local historian says.University of Canterbury Professor Katie Pickles said memories of the pre-quake Christchurch were fast fading as more of the city's iconic buildings and landmarks were demolished."Many Christchurch landmarks have been demolished to make way for new buildings in what is becoming an exciting city," she said."But we have never been a demolition city before, with hard hats, high-viz, cranes, and wrecking balls. This is what Cantabrians see and hear on a daily basis. Memories of the past pre-quake city are fading.'"...