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New Zealand to send Maori delegation to India

Dr Guna Magesan (left) with Malcolm Short

A Maori organisation is preparing to send a delegation to India to study and share ancient traditions and culture.

The recently established Maori Research Institute will lead a Maori delegation to India to attend the Fourth International Conference of the Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures to be held from 3 March to 7 March 2012, at India’s holy town of Haridwar.

The conference, expected to attract delegates from 50 countries, is organised by the International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS) once in three years.  The theme of this fourth conference is “Nourishing the Balance of the Universe”.

“This is indeed an initiative that helps bring the wisdom of ancient peoples and cultures to the fore, and we would like to support such an international gathering of different cultures,” says Malcolm Short, Director of the Rotorua-based Maori Research Institute and the leader of the delegation from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Guna Magesan (left) with Malcolm Short

Dr Guna Magesan, a senior scientist with the Maori Research Institute, will identify one Maori Elder who is very much respected in the Maori community and who has done good work for the revival of Maori tradition. The conference organisers aim to award a Maori Elder with an honorary degree from the Research Institute of World’s Ancient Traditions, Cultures and Heritage (RIWATCH University).

Dr Magesan feels that the Maori community should identify and nominate a Maori Elder for the honour.  Nominations (with their resume) need to reach guna.magesan@maoriresearchinstitute.co.nz.

“We will send up to 5 selected resumes to the conference organisers and the final decision will be made by the conference organisers in India.”

The conference coordinator, Prof. Yashwant Pathak, says that the conference organisers will award an honorary degree to one well respected Elder from each continent. They have already identified elders from South America, Europe, and North America.

Prof Pathak said that the organisers are keen to recognise a Maori Elder from New Zealand, because the Maori community, in spite of many adversities, is socially, culturally and politically active; and at the world stage, Maori community is a role model for other ancient cultures that have struggled to maintain their identity.

Preparations for the Maori delegation going to the conference are going well, says the institute. In addition to the international conference, the delegation will also attend two business meetings in New Delhi and Mumbai. They will also visit places of tourist interest in New Delhi and Rajasthan, and the Taj Mahal in Agra. The delegation is made up of people from all walks of life – academics, kaumatuas, artists, business leaders, etc.

The Maori delegation will be supported by two Hindu community members, Dr Rajiv Chaturvedi and Dr Guna Magesan from New Zealand. This delegation is thus symbolising Hindu Maori whakawhanaungatanga (kinship).

“This is an opportunity for Maori business community to start linking with Indian business community at the grass root level,” Dr Magesan says. This is important in view of the Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and India in pipeline.

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