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12.7.08

Newspaper tries to drag down Miss New Zealand using racist agenda—and fails 

It’s quite easy to work out the agenda of the when it comes to an article like this, trying to harm Samantha Powell’s chances at tomorrow night.
   • Personal aggrandizement of the , or, if not the journalist, then the editors or management trying to look like they can set agenda. (The part about Val Lott hanging up the phone, I understand, is total fiction—so if something so minor is untrue, can we trust the rest?)
   • Trying to cause a split between pākehā and when in fact there is none. Fact: the photograph of Samantha Powell doing the pukana was actually published in mid-June—and even ran in a rival newspaper here! There were no complaints from anyone, Māori or any other group, until the Herald made it a race issue yesterday. Or the Herald is trying to play catch-up because it missed the photos a month ago and was desperate for a fresh angle.
   • : come on, the headline is clearly poking fun at Māori and the pukana. I don’t appreciate the newspaper doing that, and I would say my Māori friends would be more upset at that than the Herald’s false defence of the haka. Like a newspaper owned by Australians (it’s listed on their exchange) and the Irish really understands Māoridom.
   • Implying that two beauty queens are at odds with one another. False. Samantha Powell is in communicado for the most part in Nha Trong, Vietnam, and I severely doubt Miss World New Zealand, Kahurangi Taylor, would risk criticizing another pageant for fear of damaging her own chances when she goes to Miss World.
   • . (The newspaper failed there: the judges decided their top 15 last week.)
   • Lack of patriotism: you would never drag the All Blacks down a peg the day before a big international. And places like Venezuela treat Miss Universe with greater fervour than we treat a rugby match. Pity: their business pages are good, so it’s a shame some of these others are dragging them down.
   My views about the appropriateness of Samantha Powell’s haka are at the Lucire blog. I agree that Māori should be defended. But you couldn’t really call what Sam perfromed a haka. She just did a few moves. It would be like a Caucasian donning a lion mask and moving two metres and calling that a Chinese New Year’s lion dance.
   As I said in : ‘I know of no Māori who, while rightly guarding against improper use of their culture, would deny a chance for it to be promoted or be rendered so “untouchable” to those who came later to . In fact, one kaumatua I spoke to says it is our duty, regardless of our ethnic origins, to be promoting Māori culture when we are abroad.
   ‘Sometimes, because we have not been immersed in the culture, we err. It is to be expected. And, when the one who errs is not of our own race, we forgive and we educate, but we do not criticize.
   ‘All New Zealanders should be proud to propagate Māori culture as the alternative would be to ignore it and pretend we are mere facsimile of Great Britain, as many Kiwis did 50 years ago.’
   I’d hate to see us head back to those monocultural times—though it looks like the Herald wants that to happen by running a story like this.
   Since the newspaper has been shifting a lot of its work to Australia, I imagine an Anglicized makes it easier to take more editing work away from Kiwis.
   Marginalizing Māori makes it easier for newspapers to have less staff trained in the culture and outsource, buying in overseas stories that are sometimes cheaper to acquire.
   Any time you see a story about over-sensitive Māori getting upset about the way the culture has been portrayed, think again about the agenda.
   All the Māori I know put first and would probably see this as an opportunity to reach out and educate in order to promote their culture.
   A big fail for the Herald. Sam’s still going to wow the world tomorrow night.
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
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