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Maori society sex-positive before 1840

Sat 12 Jun 2004 In: New Zealand Daily News

Maori society was sex-positive and same-sex relationships were revered and respected before colonisation, says a prominent Maori academic. Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, speaking on National Radio this week in opposition to assertions that Archbishop Vercoe's homohating comments had a cultural basis, said the only cultural context for the comments was the missionary context of the 19th century, a time in which the colonials indulged themselves while simultaneously imposing their strict Victorian morals. “William Yate, himself an entrepreneurial and somewhat provocative individual, enjoyed lots of connections with young Maori men, and what's particularly interesting is that when he was confronted by the church and subjected to some pretty gruesome charges, the young men were called upon to give evidence of his "unnatural behaviour," she said. “And they actually said that "they were unaware of any sinfulness in the practices and Yate had not initiated or corrupted them and that they showed no shame.” I'm actually quoting from a Church Missionary Society document here. And these young guys enjoyed each other, they enjoyed Yate.” While others may be apprehensive about raining on the parade of the first Maori archbishop, Te Awekotuku said she's quite happy to. "I think that what is the real abomination here is that someone who has got mana, who has got vision, who has got significance for the Maori people, should turn around and make such absolutely bigoted and ignorant and misguided comments which do hurt us, which hurt his kin."    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Saturday, 12th June 2004 - 12:00pm

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