With the advent of the world we are living in and its many challenges an obvious question that comes to mind is, does tikanga need to evolve or adapt or should it, to enable the ease of performing customary functions that upholds and maintains our way of being in a cultural sense? Furthermore, how does tikanga maintain its uniqeness when used in the work environment?
If it is adapted to suit contempoary practices, does it qualify as something Māori or is it a rule change to suit the “Ao hurihuri?” (the ever changing world).
In Te Āti Awa it is an implicit nature to draw on tikanga that is derived from an iwi perspective of their surroundings or environment, and in doing so, determines the way they behave because of the environment or surrounding they live in. Tikanga serves us as an “appropriate way” to perform a function because it allows us a “SAFE and ethical space to behave” where we can perform our own duties without repercussions or consequences (i.e. shame, paucity, or in this case the possibility of mate).
When any of these examples come interact, tikanga will and must determine an appropriate way to perform or behave because an iwi’s own health, safety and wellbeing should be uppermost.
There are number of iwi narratives that could be used that we have explored and illustrates how would we contemporise tikanga when dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.
In light of the virus reaching our shores, Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui in the Wellington region, have been approached by a number of government departments who work directly with international delegations of their position on this matter within their tribal boundary. After a number of discussions with the appropriate people adverse in Te Āti Awa tikanga the most common sense approach was to invoke the “taupāruru”.
The “taupāruru” is to confine and restrict a practise in a given space until a time for its full practise to be reintroduced. The practise that we refer to specifically pertains to the powhiri process of Te Āti Awa, until the virus has been brought under control.
Common sense must prevail given the line of work that many government departments, councils, and school who have adopted Te Āti Awa tikanga where powhiri plays an integral part. Te Ati Awa Taranaki Whānui must be responsible for not only protecting staff in government departments, but every institution within our takiwa (tribal boundary), Kohanga Reo, schools, councils, etc.
Taupāruru not only protects our tikanga but allows us to place restriction on any part of the process. In this particular situation the hongi (pressing of the nose) and the hariru (the shaking of hands) where people come into contact with one another. We have placed this restriction only in our powhiri process thinking about the health and wellbeing of others. In doing so, this still allows for the expression of karanga. Instead of proceeding to the hongi/hariru manuhiri would proceed directly to their seats where the karanga whakatau will take place before being seated. The whaikorero will be supported by a waiata tautoko as required of both sides. Following the last speaker and waiata of the manuhiri, the host will close the ritual ceremony with a karakia freeing the manuhiri from the powhiri process.
This is a precautionary matter and we encourage organisations and schools located in out tribal boundary take into consideration when conducting powhiri.
Dated this 6th day of March 2020.
Signed on behalf of Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui