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Traditional Wero defended

Traditional Wero defended by Maori Party Dr Pita Sharples, Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau
Monday 4 February 2008

Sensational headlines linking the artform of the wero with 'mongrels' and 'gangs' have been greeted with anger by Dr Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Maori Party.

"I was extremely disturbed to hear a Maori Member of Parliament describe our young Maori children as acting like "underfed mutts" and suggesting that "gang culture is creeping on to the marae" said Dr Sharples.

"If the concern is aggressive behaviour, personal attacks, personal denigration, humiliation and threats, then one would think that Mr Jones might find plenty of scope for comment in the debating chamber, rather than evaluating marae performance" ended Dr Sharples.

"What disturbs me most is the offensive way in which our traditional cultural practices have been described by Mr Jones" said Dr Sharples.

"As Ahorangi for Te Whare Tu Taua o Aotearoa - the National School of Ancient Maori Weaponry for over twenty years, we have trained young people throughout Aotearoa in the cultural artform of the wero".

"There are nine stages to the wero -at the fourth stage, the taki is called Te Wero o Tumatauenga - it is literally showing the face of force to manuhiri as part of our challenge to demonstrate whether the visiting ope is friend or foe" said Dr Sharples.

"Only one of the nine stages is about the physical challenge of the taki - the other eight encompass the full physical, spiritual and cultural dimensions of the ceremony" said Dr Sharples.

"It is very disappointing that as we approach Waitangi Day, the story of the day is yet another negative criticism of young people, yet another attack on our culture" said Dr Sharples.

"Is this the 'potential of youth' that the Prime Minister has been talking of?" ended Dr Sharples.


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