The New Zealand Maori as a Model of Reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples Everywhere

The New Zealand Maori as a Model of Reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples Everywhere

In Ms. Teela’s class at Rotorua Primary School, students sit in a circle around her. They practice vocabulary and pronunciation with their teacher, who has a traditional Maori tattoo on her face. Children learn in their own language.

Education is one of the pillars of the revival of Māori culture. Since 1990, the government has funded Māori immersion primary schools such as the one in Rotorua.

Almost 30% of New Zealanders received a Maori education last year.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Philip LeBlanc

These institutions reflect traditional values ​​with the aim of revitalizing the language, but also the culture, which has resulted in an increased success rate for Māori youth. Something that surprises the teacher, Tella, who did not have this privilege when she was very young.

Children grow up with their own language, their own story, and their own songsThe teacher, Mrs. Taila, explains. They are proud of who they are. They are awesome!

Not only are they immersion schools, but some courses are also offered in high school. Almost 30% of New Zealanders received a Maori education last year.

Protect and promote Maori culture

The Haka is the most well-known symbol of this indigenous culture. Help the warrior ritual perpetuate it.

Thanks to the tourists who have paid to learn more about the culture and visit the natural wonders of Rotorua’s site, the Maori Crafts Institute in Rotorua takes back a portion of the proceeds to fund learning of traditional crafts.

Students and artists are custodians of indigenous knowledge in a way. Their carvings contribute to the promotion and protection of Maori traditions.

Our traditions are hidden in our patterns and weaves and through our cultural practicesexplains Iraya Keel, director general of the institute.

In order to truly understand who we are, we need to dig deep into our culture. »

Quote from Iraya Keel, Managing Director, Rotorua Maori Crafts Institute

territorial claims

As in Canada, Maori ancestral lands are central to the relations between the indigenous population and the government for cultural revitalization. Joint government and Māori institutions have been set up to promote reconciliation. But in many cases, delivery is the result of lengthy negotiations.

In 2006, 14 decrepit lakes were returned to Maori after lengthy negotiations in Rotorua, acknowledging the mistakes made when they were removed from their lands and water bodies.

William Anuru works for the organization that was created to ensure the renewal of the ecosystem. Walks in the lakes daily.

William Anuru (left) on one of his daily visits to the lake.

William Anuru (left) on one of his daily visits to the lake

Photo: Radio-Canada/Philip LeBlanc

Entire generations have lost their attachment to land or waterhe thinks. Being able to find it has a positive effect on the younger generations.

Students from the region are also participating in the protection efforts. William Anuru teaches them how to get rid of invasive species caught in nets set up on banks.

The relationship with the land takes on a whole new meaning for these kids who fish and enjoy the lakes, which would have been unimaginable not so long ago.

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The Waitangi Court, a unique institution, handles many of these land claims. But she only has the powers of recommendation.

In some cases, the body’s work leads to government negotiations, but not often enough, according to Debbie Packer, a Maori party co-leader who is pushing for more powers for the Waitangi Tribunal.

New Zealand landscape.

The Waitangi Court handles many of these land claims, and has only powers of recommendation.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Philip LeBlanc

She also believes that Māori interests are often overlooked in politics even though of the current 120 elected officials, 25 are Māori and seven are designated Aboriginal constituencies.

Politicians fight for the status quo, Says.

Most policies target middle-class whites. With a young Māori population and unprecedented challenges, it is important for us to challenge the established system. »

Quote from Debbie Packer, Co-Leader of the Maori Party

Despite all the advances and their status as a model for Indigenous reconciliation, there is still much to be done for Māori. Eliminating racial discrimination and protecting the Holy Land remains a long-standing struggle.

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