AT FACE VALUE
Returning to New Zealand after some years away, I was inspired anew by the stories and faces of our indigenous Polynesian people.
When Britain colonized New Zealand in the 1800’s the Maori culture and way of life was actively suppressed in favor of their assimilation into a growing English colony. For over a hundred years this loss of identity undermined a people who slowly but surely became the marginalized minority – less educated, poorer and with high crime rates.
In recent times, a more enlightened society has supported a resurgence of the Maori culture as a powerful touchstone for the New Zealand identity. The Maori language is now spoken by many; traditional facial tattoos are commonly seen; and Maori New Zealanders have a high profile in the arts, politics, business and sport.
But like the civil rights journey in America, all is not solved. In fact, in New Zealand there is a risk we think the positive and iconic ‘face’ of Maoridom that is now emerging is evidence of a job well done – as opposed to a job just begun.
May 11, 2018