Māori and Chinese, Māori and Pākehā

Applied ICD
This is a story about the formal welcome of an immigrant group (Chinese) into a new homeland (Australia). It ends with a question about broader applications.

On April 27, 2013, the Maori formally welcomed the Chinese community to Auckland at the Taniwha [a mythical being similar to a dragon] and Dragon Festival held on to Ōrākei marae [their ancestral home] to formalise a relationship between the two cultures. There was a pōhiri [formal welcoming ceremony] and festival.

“During the pōhiri, the kaikōrero [speakers] on both sides recounted the long-standing ties between Māori and Chinese families through market gardening, for instance, and sometimes the shared experience of racism. The festival afterwards highlighted common aspects of Māori and Chinese cultures — the significance of tīpuna [ancestors] and traditions, of taniwha [water spirits] and dragons, community dance, kite-flying. And, of course, food.”

After months of careful planning, thousands of people turned up, and the event was a success, with much learning on both sides. Which made Andrew Robb wonder, might it be appropriate and feasible to organize a comparable event for the Pākehā [White New Zealanders of European descent], many of whom have lived in New Zealand for generations, and now recognize the significance of Māori culture, yet never actually came in “through the front gate,” acknowledging the presence of a pre-existing culture.

And that leads to an even broader question: could new ceremonies be created to welcome various groups of immigrants to their new homelands (even if belatedly)? and if so, would they help smooth the integration process, on both sides?

Robb, A. (March 25, 2017). Are Pākehā up for the challenge? E-Tangata.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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