A karakia is a cultural act, though it can be infused with religion or spirituality. A karakia can be a prayer to a deity, but that’s not the rule. A karakia could involve – and I don’t think I’m stretching the definition – meditation or words to a no one or nothing in particular.
A non-religious or non-spiritual karakia is a way to include Maori students. Rejecting karakia further marginalises the most marginalised students. Karakia is part of being Maori – whether it’s religious, spiritual or secular. The line between religion/spiritualism and culture is blurred in Te Ao Maori, but that’s not a reason to reject karakia. Maybe this is why some Maori support charter schools?
Post script: Dave Armstrong has a good piece on this in the Dominion Post.