Inappropriate misappropriation

A guest post

One of the young ladies reporting for the NZ Herald, a Ms Heath Moore, has written that “Kiwis have hit out at a US TV show after they ‘inappropriately’ used Pātea Māori Club’s song Poi E in their series promotion.”

Heath does not identify the Kiwis she quotes in her article so they may, in fact, all be herself. ‘Interviewing your typewriter’ is what we used to call it back in the day. What is puzzling about her report is that the music of ‘Poi E’ is in fact European and not Maori. The song follows a modern European structure rather than that of traditional Maori songs. The harmonies used in the recording are European and not Maori, and the drum backing the singers is a European musical instrument.  

This brings to mind the inappropriate use to which Maori often put that great British B-side song ‘Ten Guitars’. It was written by one Gordon Mills and sung originally by pop star Engelbert Humperdinck. Neither of these gentlemen was or is Maori (Mills is deceased). The structure of the song is European, the musical arrangement is European and the guitar is a European musical instrument. There were, so far as is known, no recording studios in these islands prior to the arrival of the Pakeha.

Many Maori have inappropriately taken to wearing European clothes and living in European houses. I understand, in fact, that the New Zealand government goes so far as to force European houses upon Maori people and even forces Maori children to study alien cultural concepts such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Leaders of both cultures have singularly failed to speak out against these inappropriate, indeed racist, cultural impositions.

By the same token there is pressure from some quarters that Europeans inappropriately speak te reo Maori. Their language is a unique taonga of the Maori people and howls of protest are, no doubt, ringing through the nation’s marae over this. Pakeha should leave Maori to their own devices and Pakeha should do likewise. That is to say, each should make no inappropriate use of the other’s culture. Ms Heath Moore, named after an uncultivated wasteland, would surely agree.

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A guest post submitted to Whaleoil and edited by Whaleoil staff.

Guest Post content does not necessarily reflect the views of the site or its editor. Guest Post content is offered for discussion and for alternative points of view.

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