Maori culture, religion almost one

Letter of the Day

MICHAEL RUSSELL
Last updated 07:31 13/02/2013

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OPINION: Dion Tuuta asks the question: ''Who gets to determine whether something is culturally inappropriate?'' (Taranaki Daily News, Jan 28).

He could have done better by asking: What is culture itself?

As I see it, it is difficult to distinguish between Maori culture and Maori religion.

They may well be so inextricably intertwined that many Maori are unable to make a distinction, either.

Mr Tuuta, however, does write of the sacred nature of the mountain and ranges, and frequently we are faced with situations where a tapu is slapped on some piece of ground or another until the appropriate ceremony is performed with hocus-pocus rituals to rid the site of evil spirits.

(I'm not sure, incidentally, how many Maori, many of whom profess to be Christians, can still believe in Maoridom's spirit world, when that multiplicity of beliefs is expressly forbidden by Christianity.)

So, what does Mr Tuuta request of me, a Pakeha - respect for his culture or respect for his religion?

I could respect his culture if I knew exactly what it was, and that would take education.

But as a devout and practising atheist, there is no way I will show the slightest respect for his religion.

His religion, here in the guise of culture, is indeed like all other religions, a ''quaint, stone-age irrelevancy''.

I was born beneath the mountain. It will always be home to me, but at the end of the day it is just a big hill.

MICHAEL RUSSELL

Stratford

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