Maoris – the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, and Indians (not to be confused with Red Indians or American Indians) have a common thread – they both have lived in a country during the British colonisation period. As migration of Indians to New Zealand dates back to the 18th century, the two communities have shared cordial relationships over the years, and a small but prominent population of Maori-Indians, that is, people with lineage to Maori and Indian communities is a testimony of that.
Hindu Council of New Zealand is organising the first gathering (hui) of such Maori Indians at the Tangatarua Marae, Waiariki Institute of Technology campus, Rotorua from Friday, 5 October to Sunday, 7 October 2012.
It is appropriate that this unique hui takes place at Tangatarua marae. Tangatarua translates to “two peoples” and strongly symbolises the bicultural nature of the people who will participate in this first hui of Maori Indians.
The Hindu Council has been working with Maori community in New Zealand for more than 15 years, says a statement issued by the council.
“The respect and relations we have built with Maori Elders over the years have brought us close to the Maori culture and community,” says Dr Guna Magesan, general secretary of the council and also the coordinator of this first hui/gathering.
“We have come across a number of Maori community members who have Bharatiya (Indian) lineage and who are interested in knowing more about their Indian side. Most of the Maori Indians (Indo-Maori people) have been brought up culturally by the Maori side.
“We would like Indo-Maori people to feel proud of their heritage – both Indian and Maori,” says Guna.
“We plan to provide a platform to these people who could help develop our inter-cultural understanding to a still higher level.”
This gathering is one more step forward in Hindu-Maori whakawhanaungatanga (relations).
“Maori Indians have a big role to play in Hindu Maori relations and also India-New Zealand relations,” Dr Magesan added.
The official programme starts at 4.00 pm on Friday, with a powhiri. The two-day gathering will provide the participants to learn more about Hindu culture. There will be workshops on vegetarian cooking, Rangoli (traditional Hindu decorative art), “Mehndi-Moko” (temporary tattoo) where both Maori and Hindu designs will be taught, yoga, and ladies will have an opportunity to learn saree tying.
During the deliberations, participants will share their stories and experiences. Sessions dealing with the issues specific to Maori Indians for example, identity crisis and acceptance that may exist in certain individuals, will be of special interest.
“This is a challenging task we have taken but we believe it will have a positive outcome for all the participants”.
Hindu Council has been organising regular Marae stay for Hindu community to learn, understand and experience Maori culture and customs. Over the years, it has become a popular programme.
“Now, we are keen to bring the Maori Indian community together, stay in the Marae together, and have a vegetarian kai (food) together and know each other better.
This gathering will be a smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free event in accordance with Hindu cultural practice.
“We encourage all Indo-Maori people to write an essay about their family which we are happy to publish as part of conference proceedings/ souvenir, and possible further media publication. We are planning a spot prize for the best essay.”
Those who are interested in attending this first gathering of Maori Indians need to register their names with firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a registration fee (koha) of $20 to cover food, accommodation, and knowledge sharing.
Event: First gathering of Maori Indians
Location: Tangatarua Marae, Waiariki Institute of Technology campus, Rotorua
Date: Friday, 5 October to Sunday, 7 October 2012
Contact to register interest: Dr Guna Magesan (021 034 5621) or email email@example.com