Native peoples participation in modern and post-modern practices is often viewed as outside of what is considered traditional and therefore, when choosing to participate, questions around authenticity rise. But many of the Kai Tahu people of Southern New Zealand would argue against this. Generations of whanau (family) have participated in traditional practices of food gathering, particularly with the Titi (muttonbird) harvest. Elements of this have evolved. These have been managed through the adoption and adaptation of new technologies by the whanau involved in the practice. Underpinning all this are core concepts that inform practice: concepts centered around identity politics. While the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of practice may change, the basic concepts remain stable. Practices such as altered political economies, alternative transactional economies, and electronic art; all play their part in how the Kai Tahu people define themselves as traditional, at the same time being active agents for change.
New Zealand is a nation at the bottom of the world. It comprises principally of two main islands with many small outlying islands. It is often described as a very young country and the last country on earth to be settled. The indigenous peoples, now known collectively as Maori, arrived in New Zealand from Eastern Polynesia over a thousand years ago and settled in various parts of the country. They consist of many distinct groups, structuring themselves, socially and politically as Iwi (tribes). They often share geographic boundaries and certain understandings regarding creation stories and associated customs but consider themselves to be independent socio-political entities, akin to Clans in the Scottish high and lowlands or even nations, if we were to consider the North American experience. The Iwi that this story refers to is known as Kai Tahu.
- Ron Bull, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand
Full text (PDF) p. 34-39