Healthy Families Rotorua is looking into changes in behaviour with alcohol and urupā, beginning with bringing the issue to light and then talking about it as whānau, hapū/iwi.
Systems innovator, Teteira Ormsby, says drinking alcohol at the urupā is not being talked about and there is a concern it will become a normalised practice if the issue is not being discussed.
“We’re exploring changes in behaviour within te ao Māori with alcohol and the way we grieve our loved ones in modern society. Traditionally, there was a big separation between things we do in our everyday life and behaviour or tikanga in the urupā. But perhaps the lines are becoming more blurred, and we’re looking at why this might be happening and what, if anything, should or can be done about it,” he says.
Teteira says a recent online survey attracted a wide range of responses from over 100 people, revealing lots of shifts, questions, and perspectives from the community.
“One of the challenges of the modern world is how important messages about kawa and tikanga can be safely and consistently delivered to the right audiences. This is to ensure they’re upheld in a society that doesn’t police its people but seeks to educate, inform, and model what is considered tika, pono and in the best interests of the collective,” says Teteira.
Maitaikotare Marae chair, Lynda Vercoe.
Maitaikotare Marae chair, Lynda Vercoe, says whoever holds governance over these wāhi tapu (sacred sites) needs to make decisions in consultation with kaumātua and tangata whenua through a collective wānanga and/or hui-ā-iwi.
“I personally don’t agree with drinking at the urupā due to my upbringing. We were told what not to do and just respected it. We never asked questions out of respect for the elder telling us. There was also an element of fear that something might happen to me if I crossed the line and disobeyed what I knew. So, it was a form of self-protection too.
“As a marae trustee, I believe this kōrero can be had at marae hui. It comes back to how much value we put on our urupā. We need to put this on the radar by discussing it,” says Lynda.
New Zealand has alarming statistics on alcohol consumption which has been linked to more than 200 diseases and injury conditions. Healthy Families Rotorua’s Ruru Parirau kaupapa aims to destabilise negative stereotypes around Māori and alcohol and to rewrite new and accurate narratives that serve us.