Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The great big melting pot

Leave a Comment

Let me list some typically modern Anglo-Saxon names for you. Ash Dixon, Ben May, Chris Eves, Jacob Skeen, Joe Royal, Kane Hames, Leighton Price, Reed Prinsep, Shane Christie, Tom Franklin, Billy Guyton, Brad Weber, James Lowe, Jason Emery, Marty McKenzie, Matt Proctor and Tim Bateman.

The more rugby street-smart among you will recognise of course that these young men are members of the Maori rugby team that recently completed a moderately successful three-match tour of U.S.A, Ireland and England.

They played the American national rugby team The Eagles at Toyota Field in Chicago on the 5th of this month, handsomely winning the game 54 points to 7.

I watched the contest live and wondered if the good people of Chicago might have wondered just what constitutes a Maori.

The main All Black team were also enjoying the sights and sounds of America’s windy city and generously lent two of their players, Damien McKenzie and Ash Dixon’s brother Elliot, to help ensure a win for the Maori team. As a result the Chicagoans will have been further confused by the inclusion of the two fair-headed McKenzie brothers, Marty and Damien.

I noticed the Maori All Blacks were pretty unsure of the Te Reo version of our national anthem, but to be fair, they made up for this with a stirring rendition of the Haka.

The problem with the European blood coursing through the veins of so many Maori is they are tending to play the stodgy football that was, and to some extent still is, the hallmark of Northern hemisphere rugby. It still works for the Europeans; Munster beat them at their own game, 27 points to 14.

Nonetheless despite two centuries of cohabiting most Maori are still outwardly distinguishable and it’s important that the efforts being made to ensure their language and all the social and cultural values that make them such an admired people internationally are maintained. This tends to make us unique in the world and is perhaps why we are such a desirable destination for new settlers.

And so after reading and listening to both sides of the debate on the evenly-divided Masterton District Council over the appointing of two non-voting Maori representatives on a council sub-committee, I’ve come out on the side of inclusion, a surprising departure from my normally conservative nature. I’ve seen how Maori appointees have worked well on the District Health Board and I’m convinced it will have the same positive effect on our local council.

“What we need is a great big melting pot, big enough to take the world and all it’s got, keep it stirring for a hundred years or more, and turn out coffee coloured people by the score” said the hit song by the 1970s super-group Blue Mink.

The lyrics welcomed the day when all our bloods were mixed and racism was extinguished. Given the nomenclatures of a good number of the Maori All Blacks perhaps that aspiration is within our grasp.

In fact I’m now beginning to wonder if there are any full-blooded Pakeha in New Zealand.

“Purity of race does not exist. Europe is a continent of energetic mongrels.” - H.A.L. Fisher


Post a Comment