Apr 12, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori exhibit at Musqueam museum bridges culture between Pacific people

4 min read

(Vancouver Sun) Maori professor Paul Tapsell sees a lot of similarities among his people and the Musqueam First Nation.

8765767They face many of the same pressing issues and share a need for cultural preservation in their home countries.

But theres a more personal and spiritual connection as well Tapsell is staying with some of his tribes elders and aunties together on Musqueam Indian Reserve between Marine Drive and the mouth of the Fraser River.

Hes visiting to help open an international photography exhibit, Te Ara: Maori Pathways of Leadership past, present, and future, at the new Musqueam museum today, following a successful run in Europe.

Its a really nice feeling of sharing, of giving, of service, and mostly respecting each other. Respecting different trajectories on each side of the Pacific, but ultimately the same values, said Tapsell, chairman of Maori Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Theres something really special between Maori and Musqueam. We still cant put our finger on it. Were not going to interrogate it too much and just accept it.

The exhibition features dozens of images taken by Polish photographer Krzysztof Pfeiffer, who travelled to five regions in New Zealand to capture how Maori elders are facing the challenge of passing the lessons and wisdom of the past to their youngest generation.

The photos depict modern Maori in traditional practices: mourning, war games, food preservation, receiving a peace offering, displaying a facial tattoo, and Maori leader Sir Hugh Kawharu exchanging a hongi, a traditional greeting, with then-U.S. president Bill Clinton in Auckland in 1999.

Its about reconnecting youth, the future leadership of indigenous peoples, with the messages, knowledge, the principles of their ancestors. The code of living thats sustained for thousands of years in a place thats particular. For the Musqueam, its particular to here, and has been for 4,000 years, Tapsell said.

The photographs are representations of our ancestors that guide the living, the present, and were transferring to the future generation the appropriate ways of living.

Thats more important than ever for First Nations people on both sides of the Pacific, he said, as they both confront addiction, crime rates, unemployment and mental health issues, and also the environmental degradation and loss of land that arrived with colonization and modern industry.

Grandchildren are now growing up in cities away from that knowledge base. They become disassociated, geographically separated, and the well-being of those young people is part of a major problem in Canada as well as New Zealand, Tapsell said.

Its the first time, as far as Tapsell and Musqueam curator Terry Point are aware, that such an indigenous to indigenous conversation has taken place in this way.

The photos are hung alongside the Baskets for Barter exhibit, which showcases the traditional weaving skills of the Musqueam people.

Not only is an educational program in the works with the Vancouver school board, but Point took the summer visit as an opportunity to teach the bands youngest members about the traditions of hospitality when receiving other tribes onto their land.

When were hosting the Maori for 10 days, they can finally see how it used to be when we invited other communities from across Coast Salish territory to come visit and stay for long periods of time, Point said.

Things have changed a little bit but the cultural similarities that weve shared over the 10 days theyve been here are amazing. Some of the birds we look highly upon, theyve got similar birds. Some of the stories are almost identical with the same morals but different characters.

Another bridge between the modern and traditional world is the maorimaps.com project, which allows users to find and connect with the marae similar to a longhouse of their ancestry. Tapsells, for example, has been around for 600 years and is known as Te Papa-i-Ouru. Its now surrounded by the city of Rotorua. Some marae on the site come with photos, contact information and even a Facebook page.

When the exhibit is returned to New Zealand next year, a Musqueam youth contingent will escort the photographs. Proceeds from the sale of the $20 catalogue a trilingual book in Musqueam, Maori and English will go toward financing that trip.

The exhibit runs until Feb. 28, 2014 at the Musqueam Cultural Education Resource Centre, 4000 Salish Dr.

For more information, visitwww.musqueam.bc.ca/musqueam-cultural-centre-gallery.

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Read more:http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Maori+exhibit+Musqueam+museum+bridges+culture+between/8765765/story.html#ixzz2bihDyL8i

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