A four-week old blog by Marie Krarup, MP and member of the Defence Committee,
has caused some consternation in New Zealand, where her comments on a
welcome by the New Zealand Navy was described as uncivilised and an obvious
burden on non-Maori naval officers.
Apart from derogatory statements about the powhiri, her statements on the
hongi – or ceremonial nose-rubbing, and description of a marae – or Maori
sacred place – have been widely reported recently in the New Zealand media.
“A right-wing Danish politician has mocked a Maori welcome to New Zealand,
dubbing the powhiri an "uncivilised" ritual, and marae a "grotesque" mark of
multicultural worship. Marie Krarup, in an opinion piece in Danish newspaper
Berlingske Tidende, was shocked to be welcomed by a dancing, barely-clothed
man, instead of a handshake or salute,” The National says.
“She says on arrival at the Devonport Naval Base, her group was greeted by a
man shouting and screaming in Maori, and poking his tongue out. Ms Krarup
goes on to say she felt like an idiot giving a hongi and the waiata (Ed:
song) performed by naval personnel sounded like a Danish children's song
about a happy ladybird,” The New Zealand Herald says.
Although claiming to have been mis-translated, Krarup tells Politiken.dk that
she indeed found the welcome uncivilised - something she defines as
“I think it is interesting to see some seemingly Western naval officers stand
there in the same white, elegant summer uniforms that our naval officers
have, and that they say hello to us by rubbing noses and speak a language
they don’t even understand themselves,” Krarup says.
“They use a culture that is obviously not their own to say hello to someone
from a foreign country. The Maoris should of course be allowed to to have
their religious houses with big penises and dances and raffia skirts.
There’s no problem in that. But the interesting thing is when their culture
is imposed on others who obviously don’t have it from the start,” she adds.
She says that naval officers could not speak Te Reo and had to have crib
sheets to say the words.
Asked whether the New Zealand identity was precisely what was expressed in the
powhiri, Krarup said that was ‘a discussion they must have themselves’.
“I just see that there is a large section of Western New Zealanders who have
been there for a long time, who have a Western Christian culture and now
increasingly have to take over some cultural Maori characteristics due to a
political programme that has been in place since the 90s – so it’s something
new,” Krarup says.
Unwilling to accept the argument of a new political initiative returning to
something old, Krarup says that the Maoris have not been cultural
imperialists throughout their history.
“It’s their culture, that they have passed on to their children. Here we have
some immigrants who have become a majority, and who have a Western culture
and who now have to take over the Maori culture. That is cultural
imperialism towards the Westerners. Admittedly they started the cultural
imperialism vis a vis the Maoris – they have a long and guilty past… that is
not something I want to get involved in. I can just see that there were some
Western oriented New Zealanders who have to assimilate some cultural Maori
characteristics. I find that peculiar,” Krarup says.
She adds that just as Maoris should be allowed to be Maoris, Western New
Zealanders should be allowed to be Westerners – irrespective of their
feelings of guilt.
“Danes should be allowed to be Danes, New Zealanders should be allowed to be
New Zealanders, Maoris should be allowed to be Maoris and Turks should be
allowed to be Turks,” Krarup says.
Commenting on her remarks concerning the predominance of oversized penises in
a marae, Krarup said it was difficult not to notice.
“They were rather big. And yes, it’s important to say that there is a room
that is not decorated with flowers and roses, but with willies. I don’t
think you can avoid noticing that. And that was also what people went around
and took pictures of afterwards,” she says.
“It’s not Western culture. Unless you are in a porn shop. But this was a
religious temple,” Krarup adds, saying that taboos are not a good idea.
“Of course it’s a bit naughty to write a humoristic blog that I don’t think
that men in raffia skirts are the coolest thing. I am quite happy that
Danish men don’t walk around in raffia skirts. On the other hand if it opens
a debate they don’t dare open themselves, I am happy I mentioned it. Taboos
are not a good thing,” Krarup tells Politiken.
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