Tag Archives: Single Stories

Tourism and Single Stories in the Maori Culture

Before we started doing our blogs, I had my mind set on having Samoa being my cultural group since I knew more about the culture and stereotypes. But if I did, I wouldn’t have learned anything new from this research. That’s when I decided to do another indigenous group in the South Pacific and chose to focus my research on the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori. With the Maori culture, I have  a basic knowledge of their ways compared to the other cultures in Polynesia. I know about some of their traditional dances such as the Poi dance, the Haka and their stick game. I also know about the, “hongi,” which is a form of greeting that they do and that their Runanga, or meeting houses are covered with carvings of their ancestors that protect their land. Even though I knew all of these things I wanted to learn more and better understand the warriors of New Zealand.

When people think of Maori, some of the things that come to mind are tattoos, rugby, and the Haka. Most people often assume that all Maori men have tattoos on their face, but some of the Maori men that I know do not have any tattoos on their body. Another assumption is that all Maori like rugby and play rugby… I don’t know any Maori that don’t like rugby, but I know that there are people that like other things than rugby. These are some of the single stories that I have found about the Maori people. But one of the stereotypes that I found interesting about the Maori people is that there are people that think that they are dumb and are only good at drinking and smoking. In my search for stereotypes online, this was on most of the websites that I looked at. The reason why people think this way about them is because of the media. There are a lot of films that depict the Maori culture and lifestyle, but there are times where some of those films main purpose is to entertain rather than educate such as, Once Were Warriors. By doing this blog, I was able to see that the Maori culture is more than what is portrayed in the media. Being able to read the newsletters about the people and looking at tourist’s videos of their experiences in the Maori community, it’s not hard t0 see that the Maori people are trying to make an effort of ending these single stories by showing what they know about the world. Their culture is rich and authentic, that they still practice some of the things that they did back in the day. Even though they do it for tourists, it’s still a way for them to connect with their roots and have others step into their shoes and learn why they love their culture.

With tourism spreading across most of the Polynesian Islands, it can have a great impact on the culture and the people. Some cultural groups are not fond about the idea of tourism, luckily, the Maori people are not one of them. The Maori people look at the idea of tourism as a way to connect with their culture and be able to share it with others. This is how the Maori people show critical cultural relativism. They want the tourist to walk through their villages, learn about their way of life  and their traditions so that they will be able to understand the culture. Most of the Maori villages are well-known tourist sites that allow people to experience the Maori culture first hand. None of the tourist activities that I know of promote any single stories, except maybe the Haka since it can be intimidating. Maybe an ethnocentric example that the tourists could think of about the Maori is that they are barbaric? There is not a specific example that I could think of and there are not a lot of examples online. But if we base it on how the Maori people were ruthless warriors back in the day  and how the haka is performed by bulging their eyes, scratching/hitting  their chests as an intimidation, it could be a possible thought.

By conducting this research, I was able to have a small insight of the Maori people and their culture. I went into this research trying to answer the question of how has tourism impacted the Maori people and their culture. I was able to look at newsletters that provided interviews with some of the members in the community and their thoughts. I also was able to look at videos of tourist activities in some of the villages that participate with tourism. I came into this research having some background knowledge, but I pretended as though I knew nothing to have a better understanding of the culture and try to see things the way that the Maori do. I was not able to physically go to New Zealand and observe the Maori people, but by having videos, articles and photos of the impacts of tourism in the Maori community I was able to perform a small ethnographic blog post.

Some of the digital techniques that I learned that helped me with my blog was the hyperlinks. I found it difficult trying to put one video for my blog, but having to do two was insane. I found the solution to my problem by using hyperlinks of the website of my videos and there was no limit to how many hyperlinks I can put in my blog post. I also found search.creativecommons.org/ a great tool to find creative common photos and videos to post online without having to deal with any copyrighted issues. For the newsletters I used Ebsco Host, to find my articles for my blogs, which made it easier to find. I wasn’t able to explore the website as much. but I found these strategies very useful in making my blogs since they made it much easier.

After doing this blog, I have a better understanding of the Maori culture than I did before. I’m glad that I was able to conduct a mini-research and hopefully with this experience I can do more blog posts in the near future about other groups.




Living the Indigenous Life

If you were given the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Most people would say Tokyo or Paris, but no one would list the places that I would like to visit. Which is understandable since they are either in the coldest regions, the hottest regions, or a place that is almost always forgotten about. But despite it all, I still want to visit because of the cuisine, the historical sights, the ceremonies, the adventure, but most importantly the people. Even though their environments are not what I am accustomed to, their culture makes up for it.

The first group of indigenous people that I would like to visit are the Yupik people that live in Alaska. I first heard about the Yupik people when I was in the fifth grade. My teacher was able to teacher their kids in one of the local schools. Everyday he would spend an hour a day to talk about his experience and how he had a special bond with the people. He told us that a lot of people that were not familiar with the Yupik people thought that they lived in igloos since they were considered to be eskimos. Another thing that people said about the Yupik people was that they just sit and fish out of a hole all day. But that is not the case. These are examples of, “single stories,” that many indigenous groups face today. My teacher told us that the Yupik people were not eskimos that lived in igloos and did nothing but fish. They were a great group of people that had a rich culture.

The second group of indigenous people are the Papuans from Papua New Guinea. I’ve first found interest in this group when I was doing a research project about the different forms of tattoos in Oceania. I was surprised when I learned that the Papuan women in the rural villages tattooed their faces as a sign of coming of age. I found this interesting and wanted to learn more about the people from that day on. But just like the Yupik, the Papuans had their share of single stories from people overseas. One of the stereotypes was that the Papuans were cannibals because of the ceremonies that they performed. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I want to learn more about this because cannibalism in Oceania is common. Samoa’s king was once a cannibal, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were, but I want to learn more about it and not make assumptions. Also, people believed that the Papuans were head hunters. I don’t know much about these stereotypes, but I would like to learn more about the Papuans and show that their culture is more interesting than just cannibalism and head hunting.

The last group of indigenous people that I would like to visit are the Samoan people that live in Samoa. I have a lot of background knowledge about these people because I am a Samoan. I was not born in Samoa, but I was raised in the Samoan way which is called, “Fa’asamoa,” in Samoan. I have always wanted to go to Samoa growing up. My parents made a deal with me that if I do well in school and graduate then I would be able to go to Samoa as a graduation gift. Personally, I have dealt with the stereotypes and single stories first hand. Some of those examples are, all Samoans are related, all Samoans are fobs (fresh off the boat), Samoans are only good at sports and Samoans are big. Hearing these things is frustrating, but just like all the different groups that face the same issue, we want to prove them wrong or have them understand.

All three groups are very different in comparison, but that is what makes them so exciting. Learn about a group of people, whether you’re familiar or not, is what makes going to a new place exciting. Hopefully down the road I will be able to visit all three groups and learn more and understand to prove the single stories and stereotypes wrong.