Crossing The Divide

As Pākehā we often find it hard to articulate what our culture is. It just is. Or perhaps we don’t have one. Maybe we think that only Māori have a culture and we’re a tad envious. Starting to learn about te ao Māori can be disconcerting for Pākehā, who didn’t even realise they existed within a culture. Encountering a distinctive ‘other’ can conjure up feelings of dislocation and not-quite-belonging, in the only place we have ever belonged.

I will be first to say that Pākehā shouldn’t appropriate Māori concepts and redefine them to be things that they aren’t. I do believe, however, that te ao Māori offers an opportunity for Pākehā to learn about our own culture. Understanding the perceptions and experiences of others helps us to gain insights for ourselves.

This article explores a Pākehā sense of belonging developed through time in the outdoors, and the importance of names to help us understand the layers of history and present connections with a place. Click here to download the article.

This article was written for the Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ (FMC) and published in the August 2018 issue of their Backcountry magazine.