Maori opinions on BZPower
Wednesday, November 6th, 2002 at 11:33am
The following are the full posts from BZPower's database from Maori member "Kataraina" from September 2001. Ordinarily such virulent and flame-baiting topics would be halted, and some were, but in the interest of understanding more about the nature of the language issue between the Maori and LEGO, the administration allowed much more leeway than usual in Kataraina's posting. After the final thread was closed the member did not return.
UPDATE: To set the record straight, the following are exact transcripts from Kataraina's postings on BZP, and are character-for-character reproductions from our database. The year-old language edits as noted by a moderator were the only changes to what was originally typed in. These are individual posts from two larger threads. Once our forums return we will post the links to those threads here so the threads can be read in their entirety.
Additionally, posting these comments here in no way implies a connection with the original poster with the current attack on our forums. They are provided solely as reference for this forum's only previous interaction with this uniquely Maori point of view.
For those not ready to wade through the mass of text, here are some excerpts:
- And now something so precious to us and central to our culture is mocked and demeaned by pathetic people role playing and playing games
- I demand you stop using Maori words for your charactors and stop bastardising the meaning of our words. Your actions are racist and destructive.
- The Maori language is not to be used for this purpose.
- To act in this racist fashion imposing your rules on our culture.
- Your rules don't apply to that which you did not author. Particularly when your actions serve to do us harm.
- Historically Westerners are well known for setting themselves up as authorities on native things - ignoring that the Natives themselves don't validate the inaccuracies they teach.
- "America" has nothing to do with the Maori except proliferate stereotypes in it's movies and books.
- Obviously your First peoples are being oppressed. We are well aware that that is the case.
- The misuse of Maori language for roleplaying, taking family names and for fan fiction is wrong.
I am angered and disgusted to see so many Maori words used for nothing more than a kids game. Even people pretending to teach others how to pronounce our language. Others looking to a Maori dictionary to make up new names to role play.
What right do you have to abuse our tongue? Who of you here is actually Maori??
How many of you are actually from New Zealand?
Our language was forbidden the use to us in schools. We got beaten for it. We saved our language from extinction 25 years back with an innovative programme adopted by many other cultures who were slaughtered by probably your ancestors. And now something so precious to us and central to our culture is mocked and demeaned by pathetic people role playing and playing games.
My understanding from Lego's comments in the news is that the words that they denied stealing from Polynesias were 'invented' . We knew they lied. And it's obvious the consumers know to.
I demand you stop using Maori words for your charactors and stop bastardising the meaning of our words. Your actions are racist and destructive.
|Quote (Nailbunny @ Sep. 27 2001,17:34)|
"what would your name be? Mine would be Kaha. Just take your original name's meaning and translate it to Maori. Who knows? Maybe that's who you end up to be in the Mata Nui game!"
The Maori language is not to be used for this purpose. We didn't put the Maori translator online for people to 'role play', to pretend to be something they are not. Or to mock our tongue by treating something we hold as a treasure as a tool to be used in a GAME.
A Tohunga is not what Bionicle portrays that as.
The description for "General Discussion" reads:
"Here's where you can talk about BionicleZone itself, or other things Bionicle that don't necessarily fit into any of the above categories."
I put up a post regarding the use of Maori language on THIS site in relation to the Bionicle toys. The topic was locked by the moderators and said to be 'off topic". The description for that board is:
"Completely Off Topic
It was bound to happen! When enough people who all enjoy the same thing, like Bionicle, get together, they eventually want to chat about other things. Here's the place to do it."
Obviously my topic doesn't fit in "Completely Off Topic". But please say how?
Kanohi Power Webmaster has said "You can't demand kids and adults alike to stop using these words.. " In reference to children and adults using Maori dictionaries to create their role playing names and charactors, to teach the mispronounciation of our language on this forum, to b----ize and change the meaning of our language on this forum, to take part of our spirituality ie Tohunga and Mana and make play with it....
I am Maori - Actually I do have a right to say Non-Maori should not in any way b---ize my culture and appropriate the heart of our culture; our language for the sake of a game. To act in this racist fashion imposing your rules on our culture. I know you will not agree - but I will challenge your "right" to abuse what belongs to us. You did not author our language it is not your property. Why teach children to act this way? And than lock the topic with a pretence that it is 'off topic'. Make comment and than lock the topic so I can not reply there. ?
In the Kanohi Power News Discussion dated 30 October Kanohi Power Webmaster made a post with regards to Lego and the Maori culture. A portion of it reads:
"The LEGO Company has agreed that future products in the BIONICLE line will not incorporate names from any original culture; however, we did not agree to halt production of the line."
If the LEGO company agrees not to incorporate names from an original culture into it's game -why encourage that very activity here?
Te Wananga Ipurangi
(Edited by Torhu for inappropriate content/language)
I can't find a "PM thread" so I'll reply to the following here in reply to the following remark made by Kanohi Power Webmaster:
"I just want to interject in here for a sec.What gives you the right to use my english language in that post?"
Permission. Your site makes it clear that this is the language to use communicating here - and everyone is allowed to post. That's fair enough isn't it. As a Westerner you get to have a say on how you use your language. And historically the English not to mention others who use this language have forced the use of it on the lands of people they go into it. Even punishing any language spoken not english. As was I in school.
If this was a french site - and french only were to be used I would use that. A people have a right to say what they want done with their heritage or not - including Anglo-Saxon. In this particular forum - a mini culture if you like, the administration has made certain rules however to abide by that (hopefully is applied to all regardless of race and you don't change the rules as is usually the response when you hear something you don't want to hear). Respect would be to abide by those rules because I am on 'your turf' as it were. And I think you can understand how that is fair.
But when you use our culture - you are on our turf. You don't get to play with our heritage, culture and spirituality even to try to re-interpret and teach falsehoods about it to literally thousands of others without Maori challenging you on that score. Because we are the authors and creators of that not you or any other Non-Maori.
Your rules don't apply to that which you did not author. Particularly when your actions serve to do us harm.
"Did you author my language? Is it your property to use anyway you want? Absoultely. "
I think you miss the point above. The rules that you abide by in your culture don't become the rules to play by with mine.
The laws of your land don't apply to mine. Your ways are not our ways. Particularly when what you do harms and damages what is ours.
When you play with that which you do not understand - one you show your ignorance. Two you show (sadly) an arrogance - that your frame of reference should be the rules the rest of the world plays by. Which is a mentality that is at the heart of racism in any form. What a limited small world you make. When the diversity, unique forms of human expression and accomplishment gets destroyed for the sake of play. When westerners start to reinterpret a native people - it has NEVER been a good thing.
You have a history current and past of genociding peoples and at the same time destroying their unique ways of lives. You did so to the Polynesian people also. Because you impose your ways on the people even from different lands entirely.
English is not an endangered language. You have dictionaries, and english colleges, and universities that make it very clear what is correct english and what is not. In this situation for the sake of making a buck - you have a site that has kids and adults that are not only taking our language but abusing it. Not to mention various aspects of our culture and even one Maori tribe the Ngati Toa are depicted as ugly plastic figurines .
And given that our whole culture is built into the design of our language - and our spirituality is tied into the words. You are not only abusing the means to communicate but you are trivilising our spirituality. Why not make Lego Jesus? You have no right. No our language is not your property - if you wish to abuse what is yours. I have NO problem with it. I and pretty much every other Maori has a major problem when your site and your community have given yourselves permission to abuse what is ours. And demean us as a people when you think our culture, or people are part of a game. Or it is 'free' to do so - because you can.
"Why is Maori not? Your language is free for anybody to use, "
Says who - you? In our culture you are corrected very promptly for the misuse. Our language was specifically designed for a number of purposes - not communication only. Among other things its multi-dimensional nature means you screw up on more than one level, when you don't use it right.
You do not encourage children and adults to rewrite our culture for -fun-. Every single book, film and I mean EVERY single one, that has come out of America regarding our people has been stereotypical, demeaning and down right rude. In contrast we have done what wrong to you?
Might is right is your mentality. We know that mentality - because it is easy for you to do, that makes it 'right' by you.
Again what any other culture wishes to do with their culture is fine.
"They are languages that any person can speak or use, not personal possessions."
Our language is a cultural possession. It is in fact our peoples treasure we state it as such. In this you show a great ignorance. It has already been defined in international law that language and cultures of indigenous people - is in fact their property.
" I dont know what the laws are in your country, but here in the United States (not the Imperialist England) we are free to use any culture we want in any discussion."
In the United States your First Peoples also are exceedingly angered by the appropriation of their languages, their symbols, their spirituality and the destruction of their ways by those who do so for profit. Like us the many different Native American tribes are striving to save their languages and cultures and don't need the misuse of that which is precious by those ignorant of what their cultures are about.
Your culture is also imperalistic. You think you get to vote on what to do with the rest of the world, and take no count for the sovereignty of other nations? That is imperalism. Your people caused the genocide of something up to 90 percent of your First peoples lives - and I think to this day have not kept one treaty promise. Your attitude to the spiritual and culture property of Native peoples is the same as the attitude of your country to their lives and material possessions. It's yours for the taking.
Were the NA asked if the dominant culture had a right to what was theres? Their land their lives? Even today the UN nations has challenged the US for their attempts to geneocide the Dineh. Your country has not progressed far in the area of humanity. No it is very much the tyranny of the majority. And they are not happy. You stereotype that people - which demeans a whole people. We have seen the damage that has done. What please makes this right? Non-Indians engage in role playing and even make up tribes, set themselves up as Native American authorities and challenge NA that they are not 'true' NA because they don't fit the misconceptions they hold. Racism.
"Basically the rules in your country have no bearing on the rules in the Unted States, and as private citizens we have the right to write anything we want, which may or may not include "bastardizing" your language."
International law does apply. You appropriate that which does not belong to you and demean and belittle another people simply because you can. Simple respect one would think should apply. Particularly if you are dealing with children. That you condone bastardizing anothers culture - indicates a casual contempt held for those different to yourself.
"Futhermore, I disagree with the Lego on the settlement issue. I believe they should have fought it to the death, and I believe they settled because they did not want the negative publicity lawsuits bring. "
That's how bullies act. They back down when they are confronted. I will make sure our people are aware that it is not the use of our names on the toys that Lego that is also the issue. But these 'communities' also. I don't think any of us were aware this kind of c*** was going on.
Te Wananga Ipurangi
""Your language won't be endangered. Because ever since I got into Bionicle I actually know some Maori now. It will help keep your language alive. A Maori dictionary site has been posted hundreds of times for people who want to learn the language. And we aren't insulting your language, we're promoting it so people are more aware of your country. And Bionicle is a great line. LEGO won't cancel it. "
Firstly our language is endangered it is on the endangered list, that's a fact. If you are expressing a sentiment that you wish the language not die thank you....
BUT...an indigenous language gets endangered when it is disappearing. Usually because you (meaning the larger culture) have killed all the people who speak it, or outlawed it's existance, seperated the children from the speakers of it and the elders of that people are dying out and are unable to pass it on. Also when you have others who wish to take it over or teach it who have no understanding what it is about. All these things have been attempted on us, our culture, our language. As it is happening to many first peoples all over the world.
Our culture is more important than your game.
That we are recovering our language is entirely due to the programmes we have developed to fight back (eg Kohango Reo). Part of that fight back is against companies like LEGO who like much of western culture take that which does not belong to them for play and profit, without asking the permission of those who created that thing. Theft and disrespect is wrong. LEGO uses trademarks to protect that which it values, so others might not take it. See they don't wish people take those things which they create at their expense. It is hard to have our rights to what we create recognised in the same way but it's happening.
You would be unable to 'keep (y)our language alive" because you have no understanding whatsoever of the nature, design and the meanings of our words. You would need to be taught by a recognised instructor. And part of that instruction would include our culture because it is linked to everything we believe to appreciate what it offers. Neither LEGO or this Bioncile site are authorities on Maori language and culture. Where I see people set themselves up as being 'knowledgeable' because you have used our Maori online dictionary sites. Sometimes from that I see is childish arrogance, sometimes just plain silly, sometimes it is false but most of the time, it is not what those online dictionaries were put there for. Can you call yourself a doctor, teacher or lawyer if you do not pass your exams through reputable schools? Likewise with us. And to think you are any way preserving our language because you use a few words to call yourself by - no it is not a contribution. Historically Westerners are well known for setting themselves up as authorities on native things - ignoring that the Natives themselves don't validate the inaccuracies they teach. This is why I look with a dubious eye to non-speakers who think to tell other non-speakers what our language is about rather than direct them to those who speak it and authored it.
It's also insulting that our spirituality is made a part of your play. Was there not some one who 'yelled": "DON'T disrespect Jesus!" at the thought of a LEGO Jesus. If it is okay to trivilise our spirituality why is it not right than to trivilise your spirituality? It is not right in either case. Would LEGO play with christian spirituality - of course not. But you people do not give it a second thought to do that very thing to us -trivilise our spirituality through the mis-use of our language. Do you understand? I will give you one example. On one of the threads - some one typed in "strength" and came out with "Kaha" as a word they wished to use for their name. There is actually few direct English translation of Maori words. The English approximates Maori words in the CONTEXT of Western culture. "Ha" one of the meanings is the 'breath of God", "Ka" is to activate, to excite, to initiate. Haka - which English would translate as 'dance', actualy means (on one level) the breath of God expressed through physical movement'. That energy being released in spiritual/emotional/physical form. Kaha - is when that breath infuses into the spirit within the physical form, strengthening your resolve and determination in the path before you. "Strength" does not indicate these things, because it is another language entirely. Our language has so much beauty - but here you are simply using our words to make flattering 'names' for yourself. Self-aggrandisement is not what it is about. Children do that.
But answer me this everyone - Why not invent your own language for the sake of the game, instead of playing with things of value. Why not act in a way that you can have your fun but it be at nobody's expense?
Let's boil down all you are saying. "It's my culture. I am offended that you use it."
Thank you, but I can speak for myself. Some of the things I am saying is my culture is unique, it is of great value, those outside my culture are not the people who should be sharing it. When you are ignorant of a thing you can't teach that which is of value in that thing to anyone else. We have many things of great value that we feel strongly should be taught, but pragmatically it is very hard to have yourself heard if the majority are yelling louder.
The Maori are already pro-active in communicating with the outside world. We neither asked for "America", LEGO or Bionicle site's 'help' nor require it. We know watching the NA and the Australian Aborigine the inauthentic far outway the authentic. Few and far between are websites for example by the people themselves - that means a vast amount of mis-information.
In general we find the best approach is making the distinction clear what is authentic and what is not. For example on the Internet - authentic Maori websites will be listed under a second level domain name. That makes it easy for people who really want to know what it is about to see the distinction. We know that you can't see what our culture is really about unless you experience it. That is difficult if you can't travel to Aotearoa hence online you can come into a live virtual classroom - where you can speak, interact, watch videos, see presentations etc with Maori first hand. Where we can conduct things in a Maori environment. The number of quality Maori authentic websites pointing to authentic organisations clearly deliniated make a contribution. These things are never the same as coming to Aotearoa and as an outsider you will never learn all there is to know. BUT - for those with an open mind you get the choice. If only your (the strangers/western) voice is the one heard by everyone - which is mainly the case for many indigenous you do not get the choice at all. You hear only yourselves speak and you really don't go with anything different from what you already think you know.
"America is trying almost too hard to please people like you. "
"America" has nothing to do with the Maori except proliferate stereotypes in it's movies and books. It's likely your remark has more to do with the happenings in your own country. I will make an observation:
In March this year, the South Dakota Advisory Committee released a report to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights outlining the findings of a study on American Indians and the justice system. The results showed that of the violent victimizations of American Indians, 70 percent of assailants are white. For American Indian victims of rape and sexual assault, 82 percent of the perpetrators are also described as white.
More chilling results: Indians are twice as likely to be the victims of a robbery and are three times as likely to be the victim of aggravated assault. While the crime rate dropped nationwide between 1992 and 1996, murders on reservations rose sharply.
Typically, white defendants often get probation rather than the death penalty, or do not get charged at all. These statistics are alarming, given that most violent crimes usually occur among members of the same ethnic group.
For Indian people, that racism extends far beyond the criminal justice system to include economic sanctions, like higher prices for basic necessities on reservations, such as utilities, phone service, groceries and gas. It also includes higher interest rates for mortgages and car loans, while investment in business development and infrastructure is virtually non-existent. This is the paradigm from which Indian people, who are quantifiably the poorest in the nation, operate.
They die pretty young too, average age expectancy 42 for men, 47 for woman.
Obviously your First peoples are being oppressed. We are well aware that that is the case. If the schools are striving to create pride in the idea of multiculturalism - hopefully they are also teaching what contributes to keeping a people down. Stereotypes, false misrepresentation, cultural theft, teaching a false history and present is part of that.
"you aren't going to change your mind. But we aren't either. It becomes clear that you only registered to harass us. Sorry if you can't keep an open mind."
::ahem:: If your criticsim is a lack of an open mind - "we aren't either" denotes a lack of the same in the author . ::cough:: (LOL) ::cough::
~Later on the rest.
"As a native American I would like to say one thing, if someone wants to learn and use the Cherokee language *wich I doubt will happen unless they somehow get to live on the reservation*I would not be angered by their misuse of words I would only correct what they believe to be the meaning of that words. "
If some one comes to our Wananga, Polytechnics, full immersion courses, or to our Te Reo Online courses I don't have a problem with it either. But I have a real problem that a site sets up a community that uses my culture and language as a resource for role playing. And starts thinking it has a right to take what they want because they can. I have a problem with people who think they can appropriate - without the simple respect to ask is this appropriate? If you do not think Native people are the owners of their culture I disagree. (And I'll put up the various UN links etc related to this.)
Now this has been done in many ways to various Native American cultures. And likewise it's become a major issue particularly around NA spirituality. EG "Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality":
http://www.aics.org/war.html . Not too long ago an American Marlo Morgan came to Australia - made a piece of fiction that she stated was true story called "Mutant messages down under" made something like $95 million worth of books sales before 1995. Incredibly racist book every stereotype under the sun and she set herself up as a 'white messanger' - the usual practise of the Western world where usually white people say they have been given authority to speak on behalf of a Native people. Dispossessing that rightful position from the owners - the people themselves. Appropriating Maori and Polynesian culture for money - is the same kind of thing, simply cultural theft to make lots of money. And mixed into all this is inherent tendency to start to define a Native people according to a Western perspective. Stereotypes are great for the esteem of native people of all description have they not? Come on you know that's not so. So how high is the suicide rate on the reservation? Among our disinherited youth - it is the highest in the world. The image they are given of themselves is belittling. They don't get a true picture except by their own.
Yes, these behaviours are racist. Now if you would like help preserving your language rather than a few words. Than I invite you to our virtual classrooms - and I can show you the method that we will teach our Maori where ever they happen to be - home, school or work. In any part of the world. We can talk about the Kohanga Reo movement a model that has been adopted around the world to recover endangered languages and we can talk about full immersion programmes. I can put you in touch with various Indian delegations that have visited the Wananga's in Aotearoa, so you can see what they think about all this. If you are at all serious and sincere that this is something you wish. Instead of a few words - that get mispronounced and changed in meaning. Why not explore how you can go about preserving the lot?
You might also be interested if you are for real - how we are using our basic Te Reo courses as a showcase in showing how you can have a zero failure rate in education. The incorporation of our culture, knowledge and modern technology to make it so that any child no matter, status, wealth, or race can achieve 100 percent. When we have finished with this programme - it is the next thing the Maori will take to the native world. http://www.culture.co.nz/reo/e-learning.htm My email is on the page.
By the way about this signature: " I'm usually the peaceful prankster but cross me or my Tohunga and you'll soon meet your maker " A Tohunga - is a priest. It is wrong for you to incorporate elements of our religion in your games.
I haven't had time to read the rest of the posts. I'll catch up to them tomorrow. I am simply replying to each in order that they appear.
So on to this one:"I caution you against the use of this forum as a pulpit, soapbox, or rant. "
I think that's debateable - the topic is 'general discussion'. And to the opinions put here I am making reply, pretty much point by point. Things said are related to the remarks made, not on a different thing entirely. Your opinion that this is 'preaching' I think, is this more likely an expression of a dislike for a view different to your own? I agree with following the rules of the board, but not with any attempts to conform my opinions to the view of administration.
" Your rhetoric of (among other things) Western society as the great oppressor is your opinion and unprovable"
It is at least an informed an opinion - you have not disputed with the facts that support that view of western culture.. It is just history and easy to verify and I assumed it is something you would already know eg Columbus and the enslavement and slaughter of the Taino Indian. The geneocide of many of the Native American tribes. The something like up to 70 percent destruction of NA population of early colonization. The theft of over one third of Australian Aboriginal children that didn't stop up until the mid 1980s. The forced sterilization of NA women. The 'reservations' that were created to displace NA people. A thing so admired by Adolf Hitler that he used that model in creating his concentration camps. Read back a bit on the report of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Right that came out earlier this year. The UN going to the US with regards to there attempts to genocide the Dineh people. The overthrow of the Hawaiian government, democracy and sovereignty by government backed US business to make Hawaii part of the States. This is all well known. ( If there is something specific you want to know more on, than make a request for it and I'll give a link or University contact for you to communicate with. Or take it to another site forum that handles this topic it's more broad.) Other than those things I have already touched on would you accept genocide to be oppressive? I can't be bothered with looking up the acts of US at the moment. But why not check out Canada - a link to go to: http://annett55.tripod.com/ gives amongst other things a small chronology of genocidal events in Canada.
Here's a few of those examples do check out the whole page on this topic though. (::cough:: you did ask ::cough:: )
Take a good look at 1928 & 1933. All of in fact. This and the rest less than 100 years ago. And note the events of the last few months.
1857: The Gradual Civilization Act is passed by the Legislature of Upper Canada, permanently disenfranchising all Indian and Metis peoples, and placing them in a separate, inferior legal category than citizens.
1874: The Indian Act is passed in Canada;s Parliament, incorporating the inferior social status of native people into its language and provisions. Aboriginals are henceforth imprisoned on reserve lands and are legal wards of the state.
1907: Dr. Peter Bryce, Medical Inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs, tours the residential schools of western Canada and British Columbia and writes a scathing report on the: criminal health conditions there. Bryce reports that native children are being deliberately infected with diseases like tuberculosis, and are left to die untreated, as a regular practice. He cites an average death rate of 40% in the residential schools.
May, 1919: Despite an escalating death rate of Indian children in residential schools from tuberculosis - in some cases as high as 75% - Duncan Campbell Scott abolishes the post of Medical Inspector for Indian residential schools. Within two years, deaths due to tuberculosis have tripled in residential schools.
1920: Federal legislation makes it mandatory for every Indian child to be sent to residential schools upon reaching seven years of age.
1928: Sexual Sterilization Act is passed in Alberta, allowing any inmate of a native residential school to be sterilized upon the approval of the school Principal. At least 3,500 Indian women are sterilized under this law.
1933: An identical Sexual Sterilization Act is passed in British Columbia. Two major sterilization centres are established by The United Church of Canada on the west coast, in Bella Bella and Nanaimo, in which thousands of native men and women are sterilized by missionary doctors until the 1980s.
1933: Residential school Principals are made the legal guardians of all native students, under the oversight of the federal Department of Mines and Resources. Every native parent is forced by law to surrender legal custody of their children to the Principal - a church employee - or face imprisonment.
It goes on for a bit. You might want to look at the actions in the last few months for example:
September-October, 2001: Judicial decisions in British Columbia and Manitoba deny the claims of residential school survivors that genocide was practiced, absolve the churches of any direct responsibility for damages, and block any future lawsuits from claims older than thirty years, when most residential schools were closed more than thirty
years ago. (!)
October, 2001: New eyewitnesses come forward with first-hand evidence that native children are being used in west coast pedophile rings involving senior judges, politicians, church and aboriginal leaders. One of these pedophile networks operates out of the prestigious Vancouver Club.
"The root of the issue here is a difference of opinion whether a culture can own a language as a proprietary object. You very clearly believe this is so, while others just as clearly disagree. If you can supply links to a document that says a language is sole property of its culture... that would bolster your position immensely."
Actually it is not just opinion. It's late here - I'll line up all relevant resources and references tomorrow. And check if copies of those are online.
"I personally do not understand the reason for your animosity; if you could explain further some of the points in your earlier posts, such as why the Maori language was suppressed, it might help me and others here understand exactly why you and other Maori are so passionate about the subject."
Same reasons why laws were enacted in your country to suppress the languages of Native Americans, Canadian Aboriginals, Australian Aboriginals etc. Are you telling me seriously you don't know? If this is for real, let me know and I'll also dig up what chronology of events, relevant laws, acts taken on this topic. If you don't know - and I know you will see this as 'preaching' - but how can you not know something like that? (Not a rhetorical question.)
"Now, rather than continue to fling inflammatory words like "arrogance," "imperialistic," "bullies," and worst of all "racist," I think you will find that by eliminating the rhetoric will gain you an understanding audience. They will not all agree with you, but I think you'll find most people here willing to listen if you treat them as people rather than as cultural despoilers."
I am sorry. But much of the actions here are of that nature. I am happy to explain why I see your behaviour that way, and how it is typical of related behaviours. I see you as people, but your behaviour indicates you treat us as less than that.
"You say you want the language to survive; how is spreading understanding of this language through the use of this community a bad thing?"
I have already answered this check out my last post.
"There is one thing where you are absolutely wrong: the use of the Maori language by non-native peoples does NOT demean it, or your culture, in any way. "
The mis-use of Maori language by Non-Native people does demean it, our culture and people. If you wish to learn our language you learn it from our Te Reo instructors and not use our language as a role playing tool. You would than walk away with a tool that can help you with memory, a means of communicating through a concept based language that allows you to express yourself on many different levels and to many different people at the same time. Amongst other things. This could open doors for you to different ways of seeing and thinking. Because it literally makes for a different world that you see. Making it what it is not takes those opportunities away.
" When someone sees a word and says, "I wonder what that means," and uses a Maori translater to find out, you are getting -- for free -- propogation of the language and greater understanding of your culture. Again, how is this a bad thing?
The Maori translators weren't put there as tools for this site. If you wish to get an understanding of our culture you go to our many Wananga or universities and get it there. You are not promoting an understanding of our culture. For example:
Me:"...even one Maori tribe the Ngati Toa are depicted as ugly plastic figurines."
You: "Here is an apparent breakdown in understanding. No tribe was portrayed by Lego; the word "toa" according to this translator means "brave, bravery, champion, door, male, medallist, shop, stalk, store, victorious, warrior, win, winner". A word matching the attributes of a toy character was chosen, apparently based on the word's positive meanings. It stretches credibility to assert an actual person or specific tribe was used in naming this toy, and I cannot imagine any person assuming the toy is representative of a tribe."
1. Toa is not a noun. It is a status verb - (something like an adjective if you don't know what that means, it's a word that refers to a given thing as in a state of being.)
2. If you use it as a noun you are referring to a specific nation or tribe of people the Ngati Toa. Those people descended from Toa. When they decided to appropriate our words for this game. Did LEGO bother to check with Maori about how appropriate it was to have a name of a people be the name of a range of toys? . Go ask University of Otago if that is what their translator was put on line for. I will give you the contacts to talk to. Ask them to if that's how you go about understanding our language or our culture.
"Finally, I did edit one word in your latest posting. "
That's not a problem. It's in the Australian Macquarie dictionary so I wouldn't call it profanity I used it in context of the topic at hand. ?
"No matter your feelings on the subject, you do not have the moral position to demean this community in such a way, and further abuse of this board, and its members, is not to be tolerated."
Than likewise if you hold that it is immoral to abuse or demean the members of a community cease that activity that demeans the Maori people. You may not like my feelings or observations on your behaviour but no one has been personally abused for it. Even if you are affronted that you get no kudos from us in what you do here.
It's late - I will answer the rest of the posts tomorrow.
Noticing some remarks before I logged off, they bothered me enough to comment.
Now that the actions of LEGO has created this game Bionicle that has so many people creating this community messing around with our Maori culture. What to do about it.
Other than enter into discussion with you. I will also take this issue up with our society, the Maori Internet society, general community and discuss the matter with people I know in the Wananga, Universities, my iwi and people in the MLC. Get as much input as possible.
Generally our approach - is to make clear what is authentic, what is appropriate and what is not. There is than on the one hand the authentic, what is true to Maori culture/s. And on the other that which is not is spelled out. That theyby there is at least a conscious choice on your part that you are aware of what is inappropriate, demeaning and wrong and that which we do not consider so.
Off the top of my head, if it warrants it, that might look like creating a website specifically targetting Bionicle users and their activities online. Listing what is appropriate or not, referencing where to get authentic understanding. Listing the whys and wherefores of what you are doing wrong.
Probably stuff like live virtual meetings - where we have Maori discuss these things directly with you. And give presentations. Show you what really Ngati Toa look like.
Discuss creating your own language instead and weaning you off ours for your role playing. If you have any other constructive ideas - please comment. I will start discussions of this tomorrow. And call an online hui to debate this thing.
"I don't know the Maori religon or any of there customs, but I do know that if someone would dare use Jesus, Moses, Abraham, or any other person in my Christian religon as warriors, evil beasts, or anything else used in the Bioncile line, I would... well, I can't say what I would do because there are young children who will be reading this. There are some things that you just don't mess around with, and religon is one of them.
Ms. Karena, I am very sorry for the improper use of your religon, and I will change every Maori word that I have used in my stories and MOC's. I am saying this, and I mean it, form this day forth, I WILL NOT BUY ANY BIONICLE PRODUCTS THAT USE THE MAORI RELIGON INCORRECTLY UNTIL THE WORDS ARE REMOVED. I know it is not nearly enough, but it hopefully it can help, a little.
Everyone for reads this, ask yourself how you would feel if the LEGO company used your religon as a game? "
My warmest thanks and respect. In our culture our language is a SACRED TREASURE. It is the means where by our teachings are communicated as they apply to every aspect of life. Words are used in reference to every aspect of life. The spoken word is used by everyone is it not?, where many might not be able to read. So consider having a living 'Bible' in effect, available to all our people is a very powerful thing. I know it is difficult for people who belong to cultures different to us to understand. And you can only refer to your own culture in 'explaining' ours. But those who do that you will always get it wrong. Because you can not explain a thing you do not understand and which is completely alien to everything you know, by referring to that which you know.
When the concept of money was brought to Aotearoa - it was determined to be profane by our ancestors. So, firstly, to use our language inappropriately in creating a game to be brought and sold is very wrong. As well as to secondly then encourage the buyers of that product to make up names for them-selves in role play. Now with us the Creator is in and through all things, and all of the natural creation reflects an aspect and expression of the creator. Reading some of the fan fiction generated from this site - I also notice that many people are using the names of Atua (a name and aspect of the Creator represented in nature) in their play. This also is wrong - from this perspective more so than if it were Moses or Abraham. For they are prophets of God not a direct references to God, who is higher.
Our spirituality is not separate from our everyday life. And rather put our most sacred teachings in form separate and kept apart from every person it was incorporated into every word of the language. Tohunga(s) of which there were many types - set apart to show how the Spirit operated through every aspect of life; healing, art, pure religion, etc. So making a pretense of being these people is as wrong as misrepresenting yourselves as prophets, bishops, Fathers and ministers of religion. That language has a design to it that it has many levels according to the context of the conversation - that the words have both a prosaic meaning but also refer to a spiritual principle. I know is difficult for outsiders to understand. That is however why our culture is unique. It is not property or product - it is our life. We are the authors and keepers of our culture and determine what is good for us, not outsiders using our cultural and intellectual property for their entertainment.
"Basicly what I think is that LEGO has the right to, as does any person on God's green earth, use the Maori, Spanish, English, Chinese, or any other language. But, I do not, DO NOT approve of LEGO using any thing that is anti-religious, to any religon. "
The last sentence reflects a common Maori as well as a Polynesian teaching - respect the religions of other people. And of your first sentence it is also a teaching that you respect all other cultures. But taking without asking that which another people have created shows disrespect. It means you have made your law and rules as an authority over that which you played no part in contributing to. Other cultures HAVE expressed their anger at this attitude. Again where simple courtesy or respect only is required - why is taking without asking and continuing to take when offence indicated a 'right'ful thing?
Particularly when you choose to act in such a way to have your fun - by creating your own language without the need to make a play with ours.
The discussion is "Why are you people using our Maori language? .If freedom of speech actually operates here - than threatening me with banning because I give my views why you people are using our Maori language - tells me the nature of "freedom of speech". And I am familiar with that type of 'freedom' of a larger group of people of another country saying what is allowed to be said or not said by people of a another country.
It is neither "an assault against (y)our culture" or a portrayal of stereotype (look that word up in the dictionary) to rebutt an argument of a moderator here that no oppression exists towards us and people in and around your countries by listing the laws, the events and facts that prove that his opinion is without foundation. Is it an insult to your ears that the truth be spoken? Aren't you allowed to speak of those things in your land? Lying is wrong - so are falsehoods. But speaking truth is never wrong - even if it is the truth that you don't want to hear. If you didn't want to hear - you should not of asked for verification .
When LEGO without permission decided to use aspects of our culture without permission that is cultural theft. And it was done because if they could provide consumers with something 'different' that would provide a 'novelty' and entertain them they would make a lot of money. Which was their goal. It is good that they now acknowledge their error, it is good to that they are entering into discussions to create a code of conduct. But there is still a mess left because of the actions that they have taken.
The reasons people have given thus far as to why they use our Maori language are:
- because it's fun
- because we want to
- because you can't stop us
- because our laws give us permission to take anything we want from other cultures
- because we have always done things like that
- because it is "my right to bastardize other cultures as I see fit"
If you or I give and share of our choosing there is no wrong in that. I don't have a problem - and our society does that freely. But there is that which is of your heritage you have that is first and foremost for your own children and people and not for misuse by outsiders. And likewise it is for us. Cultural theft is wrong. Free exchange between peoples where their is mutual respect is not.
Re: the request for some of the links and information requested:
1. On the Tetauriwhiri website is stated this:
"Mäori is the foundation language of New Zealand, the ancestral language of the tangata whenua and one of the taonga guaranteed protection under the Treaty of Waitangi. It also provides this country with a unique language identity in the rest of the world, as this is the only place where Mäori is spoken widely. In more tangible terms, the Mäori language is a powerful social force for the reconstruction of a damaged and deteriorated self-image among Mäori youth, a vehicle of contribution to society, and therefore a means of regaining dignity. Finally, human freedom is dependent at all levels on choice and diversity; linguistic pluralism can be nothing other than a guardian of individual freedom and identity against the forces of conformism."
2. Other international treaties and covenants which protect the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities to the traditional cultural beliefs and practices include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the UNESCO Declaration on the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation (1966) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992).
If you have a law in your country that gives you permission to take without permission from other countries. I would remind you that there are laws that legitmize sterilization of Natives, and genocide of Natives. That a law is not necessarily right because it is a law - but it is right because it guarantees the freedoms, protection and rights of all people.
Now in giving your reasons as to why you use Maori language for your role-playing and fan fiction.
You give the following justifications:
- "You should be Ok in the fact people are becoming interested in the Maori language and culture."
- "it is the only instance I've seen where a culture has objected to the use of their language"
- " you can't really own a language"
- " you that an important element in your campaign to strengthen this language is popularization; vox populi can be a strong ally for you"
- " I cannot accept the base argument that use of language is theft"
- ". Most Bionicle fans are inspired to learn about it if you havent noticed"
- " its just a buncha words"
- "and various statements that indicate we can force what we want on you cause we're bigger than you"
- " its OK because the american constitusion says we have the freedom of speech."
- " we are trying to make this language a part of earth society so if you have a prob whith that then why are you doin this?"
There were some thoughtful and intelligent remarks that were made in some of the posts that indicate at least that no disrespect was meant by a few of the posters. And it would seem some genuine queries as to why and wherefore of this subject. I'd like to go back to those when I have time. But many of the posts indicate you haven't understood anything said.
But answering the following:
1. "You should be Ok in the fact people are becoming interested in the Maori language and culture." And ". Most Bionicle fans are inspired to learn about it if you havent noticed"
IF a person is going to our web sites on Maori culture to only make up names for themselves to role play write fan fiction and even call themselves by family names. Including taking titles for yourself that you have not earned. No, that is a very bad thing. It is not right to make our greatest treasure your plaything.
IF a person is interested in learning about Maori language and culture/s from an authentic source that can be a very good thing, whether it is Maori or any other culture. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. That it is okay to learn Maori language and culture from the right places but it is not right to do the above with it. Going to authentic sites, you get to hear what people other than yourself are saying. And the things that we would like to share to contribute to other peoples lives. And many things that you do not get to hear about that is going on in the world. That is why we have authentic Maori websites out there - to make sure people get what we are about from the people themselves. It is our experience that most non-Maori are inclined to stereotype and misrepresent us.
However what LEGO did is not the right way to introduce a people to our culture by mixing it in with other cultures, lying about where it got it's ideas, and encouraging communities like this to start up to role play. There is more harm than good that comes out of that. And unfortunately having people develop an interest in our culture means more people who come from cultures that will look to use us for financial gain. This has been our experience of late not just by LEGO. People I am sure would take offence if I would list the things done over the last 12 months - including that an American tried to bomb every tribal Marae. Yes, we are concerned. (Stating a fact.)
2. "it is the only instance I've seen where a culture has objected to the use of their language"
I am not surprised that most people have 'never seen' or 'never heard' of objections against others mis-using their language or culture - there are actually MANY cultures that object to the misuse of their language and culture. Relevant to your culture here are some places to open your eyes:
Incidently -to this remark: "Also... leave out Native Americans! " Many of there nations are blood kin to us - and work with Maori on many projects that affect us both. In many many ways they have done us much service, and we have shared our accomplishments and programmes with them. There ismuch aroha felt towards them, we have watched and had dealings with them for hundreds of years. Last May over 40 Nation delegates attended the Te Wananga O Aotearoa to investigate the Mahi Ora programme, they attend our various meetings and we they. The Polynesian have had discourse with N.A from North West Pacific all the way down to South American commencing some 2500 years ago- and over the last 100 years have renewed ancient blood ties with families of many different nations. They have helped us and we them. Many are family. That I have shared some of things that they have experienced has been shared with me and many others to be shared.
3. " you can't really own a language"
I think what is being said here - is you can't stop people of greater numbers doing whatever they want. The Maori language rightfully belongs to the Maori people because it is our creation, we are the authors. That others wish to abuse it and demean our national treasure does not make it right.
4. " you that an important element in your campaign to strengthen this language is popularization; vox populi can be a strong ally for you"
The reply to this has been said many times all ready. Learning the language through the proper vehicles is fine. The approach taken on this site is not. We are interested in encouraging speakers in Aotearoa and Maori where ever they are located. And indifferent to any goal of making it popular outside of those parameters. We wish to remain unique.
5. " I cannot accept the base argument that use of language is theft"
That's not the argument that has been made here. The use of the Maori language and culture by LEGO for profit is cultural theft, for reasons already stated. The misuse of Maori language for roleplaying, taking family names and for fan fiction is wrong. If you became a fluent Maori speaker is not wrong. And it is a silly accusation given that I provide live online courses in Te Reo instruction free.
6. "" its just a buncha words"
See the last post.
7. "and various statements that indicate we can force what we want on you cause we're bigger than you"
That doesn't make it right. I am forbidden to say what that kind of behaviour that is, but I think you know.
8. " its OK because the american constitusion says we have the freedom of speech."
We live in a land that aspires to make laws by the people and for the people. People can say what they want if they have freedom to or not. Here you have freedom to abuse my culture - and are threatening to ban me when I use freedom of speech to tell you what affect that has on my culture. It appears freedom of speech works that you say what you want and ban everybody who says things you don't want to hear. It is also wrong to make a law that incorporates a right to take from people from countries outside of America. If your laws involve us it is at least undemocratic to not get our input.
9. " we are trying to make this language a part of earth society so if you have a prob whith that then why are you doin this?"
Maori language is unique to Aotearoa - there is no need for it to be the property of the another country. You have at least some 500 languages in the US already, over 300 in Australia, I don't know how many in Canada to name a few countries - but many of which are dying out. It is a dis-service to the peoples of your own countries, I think that little is done to revive these.
~Later on the replies to the rest.
And why am I here? Because as a Maori I have a right to stick up for our culture that is being misused here- plain and simple.
And whether you like it or not - get used to the fact that when you trespass - I will speak regardless that you outnumber me.
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