Sunday Star Times 29/05/2011
A new parenting programme targeted at Maori tells them they are inherently loving and nurturing caregivers and family violence has arisen only because of European missionaries. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is releasing its “Maori Parenting” report on Thursday in a bid to curb violence. Prior to Europeans arriving, the report says children were considered gifts from the gods and whanau shunned child abuse. The researchers suggested abuse arose only after Maori were introduced to corporal punishment in missionary-run classrooms. Te Kahui Mana Ririki, the child advocacy group which commissioned the research, has reported a reduction in child abuse after running workshops based on its findings. ..Maori children were taught by Europeans that bad behaviour should be punished by physical violence, he said. This steered away from the traditional idea children were tapu and discipline should be avoided because it tamed the child’s spirit.
…However, the report has been criticised for painting too rosy a picture of pre-European times. Maori history professor Paul Moon, of Auckland University of Technology, dismissed the idea abuse began after the Europeans came. “The proposition that missionaries introduced violence, it’s one of those allegations that entered the historical bloodstream and once it’s in that bloodstream, it’s hard to get out. I would want to see evidence.” He cited the fact Maori girls were sometimes killed because they were considered less useful than males. “If children were treated as sacred items, how do you explain female infanticide?” Moon said the report’s reliance on oral histories and lullabies also raised doubts over its reliability.