Te Papa defends request to pregnant women

Last updated 08:37 12/10/2010

Relevant offers

Wellington

New Zealand Post reports $141m profit and parcel growth as letters decline Floyd Gatfield appears in court after AOS callout in Miriam St All Blacks ask stadium to cover windows so rugby fans can't watch training Jailed for assaulting two women on Monday, bailed until appeal on Thursday School cycling trip ends in injury for student Editorial: Cost still the question mark over light rail Flashback: A prime ministerial flash across the Canterbury Plains Mana Coastguard scuppered as portacom base goes up in flames at Porirua marina Customs Minister Nicky Wagner launches new e-gates at Wellington Airport Annual Orange Day road safety parade prompts flashback at Newtown School

Te Papa is asking pregnant or menstruating women not to visit a behind-the-scenes exhibit at the museum out of respect for Maori beliefs.

The request is being made to women from regional museums who will be going on a back-of-the-house tour of some of Te Papa's collections, including the Taonga Maori collection, Te Papa spokeswoman Jane Keig said.

The Taonga Maori collection is not open to the general public and the request does not apply to them.

Ms Keig said the issue was a "cultural consideration" to respect Maori beliefs.

"There are items within that collection that have been used in sacred rituals. That rule is in place with consideration for both the safety of the taonga and the women," Keig said.

She said there was a belief that each taonga had its own wairua, or spirit, inside it.

"Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects."

"If they understand that they can attend at another time [when they are not pregnant or menstruating]."

She said the request was made to women attending a tour on November 5.

Margaret Mutu, head of Maori Studies at Auckland University, said women should not be offended by the request.

"The reproduction area is extremely powerful and can do damage to things that are not tapu. It's about the power of women, not about stopping them."

Mutu said the objects were obviously dangerous and the hapu they came from would have told the museum about how to treat them.

"They are tapu and pregnant or menstruating women are tapu. It would be very unwise to put the two up against each other."

Mutu said in her hapu, women were also prevented from going onto gardens or fishing areas while tapu.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson downplayed concerns, saying he did not get involved in the day-to-day running of Te Papa, but he understood the message was not an instruction.

''It's an advisory requested by the iwi, but it's for people to make up their own minds,'' he said.

- with additional reporting by Stuff and NZPA

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

What should happen with the Zephyrometer?

Build a new one just like the old one

Replace it with something completely new

Leave it as it is!

Clear the space - not a good place for a sculpture

Vote Result

Related story: Wind wand's future up in the air

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content