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The unknown power of the Maoris

Want to learn about respect for indigenous peoples? Go to New Zealand.


[new meeting] Recently I flew to New Zealand for the first time. As soon as we landed, I knew I had come to an unusual place. At Christchurch airport, visitors are greeted with signs welcoming English and Maori.

During the opening reception of the literature festival I attended, an official stood up and gave a long welcome speech in Maori. To me, it was even more surprising that a number of white people in the congregation nodded approvingly or chuckled every now and then – they obviously understood what he was saying.

When he finished, he gave his speech in English. He then told that the Maori culture from ancient times was an oral culture, and when the pakehaes (Europeans) came, the Maori thought they had little use for the written word, because the stories lived on by being told orally or sung. Now has . . .

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