The New Zealand Herald contacted me yesterday, wanting a comment on this invitation being sent out by Te Papa (the New Zealand national museum).
Te Papa storeroom tours
A behind the scenes tour of Te Papa’s collection stores and collection management systems
Te Papa, 10:30am- 2:30pm, Friday 5th November 2010
Places are limited to 7 people
A chance for Local regional museums to visit various Te Papa store rooms and meet the collection managers of:
– The Taonga Māori collection – Lisa Ward, Moana Parata, Noel Osborne
– Photography and new media – Anita Hogan
– Works on paper – Tony Mackle
– Textiles – Tania Walters
Conditions of the tour:
* No photographs are to be taken of the taonga, however some images can be made available.
* There is to be no kai (food or drink) taken into the collection rooms.
* Wahine who are either hapü (pregnant) or mate wähine (menstruating) are welcome to visit at another time that is convenient for them.
* We start our visits with karakia and invite our manuhiri to participate.
Who is it for?
– This tour is for representatives from small museums, art galleries, heritage organisations, the arts and cultural sector or iwi organisations.
(I’ve edited the layout and fonts and so on, to fit on the screen, and the emphasis is mine.)
The Herald reporter suggested that I might have something to say about the practice of excluding menstruating and pregnant women being sexist and archaic. However, I didn’t. I sent back these three quotes.
It’s fair enough to respect cultural protocols, but maybe Te Papa could say that, instead of their mealy-mouthed request for pregnant and menstruating women to come back at a time that “is convenient for them.” I’m perfectly able to function when I’ve got my period or when I’m pregnant. It’s far more inconvenient to have to make special arrangements to come back at another time.
I don’t understand why a secular institution, funded by public money in a secular state, is imposing religious and cultural values on people. It’s fair enough for people to engage in their own cultural practices where those practices don’t harm others, but the state shouldn’t be imposing those practices on other people.
It’s up to Maori to work out if and how and when cultural practices should change for Maori, within the traditional freedoms of liberal democracies. If it is important to Maori people that pregnant and menstruating women aren’t included in the tour, then maybe the tour shouldn’t take place at all.
The story appeared in the New Zealand Herald this morning:
It’s interesting to see which of my quotes was used in the story, and how it was used.
Stuff also has a story about the invitation. They contacted Boganette for comment.