Maori respect for the dead considering cyber land

A reflection and contemplation of a 16 hour period.

Uncle Api Mahuika was an esteemed Māori leader with his people and the government. Moe mai ra e te rangatira.

The first I heard about it this tragedy was on Facebook when via Te Wananga o Takiura were seeking some form of authoritative clarification that the devastating news. Immediately you may be saying “Huh?” But the cyber world is full of rumours and fictitious stories that claim to be news. It is essential to find an authoritative voice before spreading news whether good or bad. It was Maori Television Te Kaea who broke the story early hours of Monday morning, it was Te Kaea who became the authoritative source of facts. I wonder if we didn’t have Māori TV or if Māori TV were not savy enough to cater to gen x. Y, Z. How would we have known? Would we have waited for the traditional phone call or perhaps Te Karere News (if we were home or by a TV earlier enough in the afternoon).
I digress….
For several years I have argued that Māoridom need to adapt to technology more to enhance te reo, tikanga and to bring our people home, whether this is via online wānanga or Cyber Tangi. It is still respectful using the Internet and attending via a video link, it is just a cultural change. Traditionally as Māori we would drop everything to attend a tangi, often at a great burden to our jobs and life. But this was how we showed respect, our mana to the tupapako and the whānau.
But this time with such an esteemed leader,  I followed Ngāti Porou (a truly digitally engaged iwi) I could see all the details of the tangi and preparations, and hear the audio updates.
Is this a change in our culture where we can show our mana by retweets, tweets, blogs, video memorials and photo montages?
Within 16 hours, Uncle Api had 91 tweets and was mentioned in most (if not all) of mainstream media. 9726 Facebook Likes, comments and shares of his photo and the bad news. It is impossible to equate how many people heard about the tangi via social media, but I would extrapolate it would be tens of thousands.

One response to “Maori respect for the dead considering cyber land”

  1. Deanne Thomas says:

    Tēnā koe Karaitiana
    The use of technology to virtually attend, where a few years ago we would have physically attended is a great debate, and I’m glad you raised it. Certainly in my work we use live streaming to share pōwhiri/mihi protocols to those that cannot attend in person due to geographical , financial and / or work commitments. But there is a different value level in kanohi kitea. The closeness of the relationship should determine a virtual or physical presence. And that can only be determined by the attendee.
    Technology permeates everything we do – but there is challenge associated with a further weakening of tikanga. Tikanga changes to meet needs – but there is no other way to hongi, than to hongi. The grieving process and the whānau pani return to te ao mārama is supported by the physical presence of those who care, who love, who share by way of their physical and immediate/sustained support.
    I guess the individual must decide. The tūpuna practices of the past had a purpose, a reason and we all remember our nannies who travelled for days to be with a whānau pani. It may be easy to convince oneself that you attended the tangi/event because you watched it unfold from behind a screen – but there is always a but.

    Nāku me ōku whakaaro whaiaro

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