• Howick and Pakuranga Times
A LOCAL dean of Maori and Chinese studies, Song Lam QSM, speaks at Pakuranga Library tomorrow on similarities between the two cultures.
She says since the violent criminal deaths of the past few months she has heard racist comments from Chinese against Maori. She’s trying hard to counteract ignorance, which she says is also the result of media coverage.
“Most media is quite negative about Maori,” says Ms Lam. “That’s not good enough for me. When they [Chinese] get robbed they think it’s Maori or Polynesian. You can’t just say that.”
She says while the Auckland Chinese news media might be a good place to promote Maori culture, the lack of Chinese who actually understand it means there is not enough discussion.
“Not many will do that because of the lack of knowledge and a lack of contact. [Chinese] stick to their own culture but they need to learn more,” she says.
“I have stayed at many marae and am always treated with respect. I always have the attitude of trusting others – Maori, Chinese, Polynesian or whoever. I want to find out for myself, using my ears, not just my eyes.”
++QUOTE1++But Ms Lam also believes the racism problem is two fold, as many Chinese or Asian immigrants feel ignored or looked down on in New Zealand. “Many people look down on others because they feel like victims themselves.”
She says the Manurewa hui, which brought Maori and Asian leaders together, was excellent but was disturbed when Asian guests entered the dining hall or wharekai without waiting for the permission from the elder, a protocol they were not aware of.
Ms Lam, an author of books in Chinese on Maori culture, would like to see more seminars in future and a greater sense of awareness between the two cultures.
Eru Thompson, chairman of Manurewa Marae, says there’s a wealth of information available on Maoridom, but he’s concerned the information that’s circulated is correct.
“What’s really important is understanding the culture of our people. But we can’t give a landscape view with just one visit.”
Mr Thompson says the Manurewa marae is the most active in the country and needs to represent Tainui faithfully as it engages other people or cultures. “We’ve said for a long time that we want to look after every-body.”