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"Stamp of Approval for NZ Post" says Maori Party

"Stamp of Approval for NZ Post" says Maori Party

Maori Party Applauds NZ Post Decision Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party Friday 2 June 2006

"Well done, NZ Post, for consulting with tangata whenua - and then actually listening to what Maori said rather than running roughshod over the very people they are looking to honour" said Dr Pita Sharples today, in light of New Zealand Post's decision not to release postage stamps which feature cartoon caricatures of kapa haka performers.

"NZ Post has demonstrated its credibility and professionalism as an organisation, in being prepared to change as a result of adverse feedback" said Dr Sharples, Maori Party spokesperson for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

"I wish the Government would take a leaf out of their book - that consultation actually brings with it an obligation and a responsibility to act on the feedback received" added Dr Sharples.

"I also want to commend NZ Post for their recognition in the first place that we should be proud of kapa haka, to understand it, and to celebrate it as an art-form of intense passion from Aotearoa New Zealand".

"Kapa haka is the absolute expression of tangata whenua culture. It is an opportunity to honour our tribal histories and distinctive identities. It is also a time of spiritual sustenance, as we call on our ancestors to offer protection. Elements of kapa haka are also used right throughout contemporary culture".

"Kapa haka is something entirely unique which the whole nation can share".

Dr Sharples also commented that the announcement today was particularly timely, in the context of the significant activity occuring throughout Aotearoa, right now, with a variety of kapa haka competitions taking place.

"Throughout this weekend I will be sitting in the wings, marvelling at the wonder of the kapa haka teams as they compete in the regional championships in Tamaki Makaurau. In two weeks time, Hawkes Bay and Wellington regions will have their championships - and a fortnight ago, it was the turn of Waikato" stated Dr Sharples.

"They are all preparing for Te Matatini, the bi-annual National Maori cultural competitions which bring together tribes, people, iwi, culture clubs, to cherish and celebrate kapa haka in their thousands".

"The decision today acknowledges the respect that NZ Post has accorded some of our key tribal leaders and kapa haka specialists whom I know have criticised the stamps as causing offence".

"I'm thrilled that New Zealand Post is still looking to celebrate Maori Performing Arts in the future, in honour of one of our national icons".

"Kapa haka is a point of identity and a point of difference - for Maori and on the world stage for all New Zealanders. It has such rich potential as a form of cultural expression, and New Zealand Post is to be commended for their dedication to doing it right" ended Dr Sharples.

ENDS

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