Did anyone watch Breakfast yesterday? If so, did anyone else find it strange that Breakfast selected one Fiona Pienaar, a South African counselling lecturer, to speak on the return of the toi moko heads? The main thrust of the interview was; will Maori obtain closure with the return of the heads? Well, it’s not really about closure. Rather, returning the heads is a cultural imperative. In accordance with tikanga the heads must be returned to their people and whenua (land). I’m not having a go at Pienaar – it’s not her fault Petra Bagust conducted a poor interview. Bagust couldn’t see outside her euroentric prism and failed to grasp what Pienaar said at the beginning of the interview: the toi moko repatriation was about reconnecting the heads to the land – not relieving some sort of grief on the part of Maori. Comparing the toi moko return to Pike River was unhelpful too. Apples and oranges as they say. Bagust’s poor form continued throughout the interview. At the end of the interview she asked Pienaar, the South African counsellor remember, how Maori would be feeling. Uhhhm, if you wanted to ask those sorts of questions why didn’t you just get a Maori, Petra? Surely it’s easy to find a Maori who can speak competently on toi moko. I wonder if the Breakfast team is too lazy too find one, or they think an academic knows more than the average Maori.
UPDATE: Having said that, Lucas De Jong did well this morning covering the toi moko ceremony at Te Papa. Or at least it looked like he did - I wasn't paying much attention after yesterday's effort to be honest.