Over at Kiwiblog yesterday DPF had a go at Lord Xenu and taniwha after Labour leader Other-David said Labour would facilitate taniwha support groups.
DPF: “Well I don’t think we should acknowledge or give any credence to taniwha. Such spiritual nonsense should play no part in our laws or decisions…We should give as much regard to belief in taniwha as we do to belief in (Evil) Lord Xenu.”
Now, I don’t know what DPF has against Lord Xenu, but I don’t agree with him over taniwha and blogged on this back on Aug 14th.
Before we go any further, let’s just ask a basic Q. or two: 1) do Maori really believe Tane Mahuta still walks the forests of NZ? and 2) Does Ruamoko live under the ground causing earthquakes and volcanoes?
Obviously not, but in some circles of Maoridom, these ‘personages’ are used as cultural metaphors for Maori thinking, and we need to understand those nuances, in the same way we talk about “Mother Nature,” or “Father Time,” or go out and idiotically buy a Lotto ticket after a lucky escape (as if some god of fate is on our side and will influence the outcome, ‘LottoGod’). The application of Maori mythological figures, especially the taniwha, by EUROPEAN NZers, as Karl du Fresne has pointed out, has been taken too far (on a literal slide rule) in NZ public life.
However, there are “Taniwha” and taniwha, and if we are going to go all superior about ‘Maori taniwha’ then lets also ban Father Christmas, dressing up as leprechauns on St Patrick’s Day, ban kids from talking about the Tooth Fairy, blow the whistle that Barry Humphries is really Dame Edna, ban Feng Shui from Home & Garden magazine, and stop claiming we can fix everything with No. 8 wire.
Going a bit deeper and understanding the nuances of what “taniwha” might actually mean in a modern society shows a maturer appreciation of the rich oral culture of one of the partners of the T.o.Waitangi. After all, there are Trolls on the internet, Dragons in our schools, Bulls at the Stock Exchange, and Hawks & Doves at our Dept of Defence.
Members of the Jury, I rest my case.