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Submitted by Marcus on Sun, 2012-09-16 17:52
Last weekend I visited Clandon Park.
Opposite the Palladian style Clandon house with it's hall of Carrara Marble is a little meeting house on the green. Hinemihi is a whare brought back to Surrey in 1892 by the house's former owner the fourth Earl of Onslow. He had just ended his three year term as Governor of New Zealand and bought the meeting house for £50 from a Maori chief Aporo after it had been partly buiried by the eruption of Mt. Tarawera. Aporo had built it next to Tarawera in 1880 to cash in on increasing tourism in the area.
Inside Clandon House is a book from the Governor's collection by Edward Tregear called the Maori Race. He was the author of the Aryan Maori in which he claimed that the Maori language had roots in Sanskrit and that Maori were descended from Indo-Europeans. It was also thought that Maori being good traders were of Jewish extraction.
How things have changed!
These days when your average NZer approaches such Maori cultural sites they associate it with intense mental torture. Firstly due to the gulit-trip of the white man's burden and secondly safe in the knowledge that it will be at their expense.
Luckily I can look at this from the safe distance of the UK and view such an object free from finacial obligation or obligatory cultural guilt trip.
Now it turns out there are a group of London Maori funded by the NZ taxpayer who call themselves Ngāti Rānana. They recently put on a hui for Team NZ at Clandon Park for London 2012. They give weekly cultural performances at the NZ embassy in London as well.
They want to do restoration work on Hinemihi at a cost of 200 thousand pounds (!) but the UK lottery commission said no. They are now looking for funds elsewhere. If they don't get them they will consider relocation back to NZ. Obviously an empty threat because they don't have ownership of the Whare or the finances to do that. (One of the funniest stories about Hinemihi is that an English restoration firm in 1979 seeing a black and white photo after the Tarawera eruption mistakingly thought plant debris was a thatched roof and restored it. It really has become a little "English" Marae on the green!)
Anyway, your average Brit can forget all that and enjoy it for what it is without waiting for the cultural kick in the teeth NZers are so used to.
In NZ the once noble Aryan Jewish trading Maori has sadly been replaced by the state dependent one.
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