1 Jun 2011

New Zealand research suggests Maori child abuse only arose after missionaries introduced them to corporal punishment

Sunday Star Times  -  New Zealand     May 29, 2011

Research debunks Maori abuse


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.

Chair Dr Hone Kaa said Maori parents were able to see themselves in a much more positive light. "It will serve to demonstrate to Maori they don't have to believe they're inherently violent," he said.

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.

Te Kahui Mana Ririki director Anton Blank said Maori should be taught to revert back to these traditional child-rearing practices. He said this model moves away from Pakeha-determined programmes for Maori families. "Maori people want to see their own culture reflected in programmes. This is uniquely Maori and is based on our history and legends. It gives us a whole lot of values that possibly many of us didn't realise we had."

Plans are under way for Plunket to pilot the programme in Hamilton. The report researched the treatment of children using oral histories, poems, and European observations.

It traced Maori history from the separation of Ranginui the Sky Father and Papatuanuku the Earth Mother through to early Europeans' reports of children's relationships with whanau.

Researchers found children were treated with loving care and indulged. "The father was devotedly fond of his children and they were his pride and delight," the report found. "Children would entwine themselves around their father's neck for an entire day, asleep or awake, as a constant companion." This instilled love, security, and confidence into Maori children.

Lead researcher Margaret Mountain Harte hoped the findings could be introduced in school curriculums to educate Maori teens. "It's empowering for me. The whole warrior culture was balanced by the nurturing one," she said.

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.

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1 comment:

  1. CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: Ending legalised violence against children - Global Report 2012


    Jointly published by Save the Children | 11/12/2012 | Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children

    Document: http://www.crin.org/docs/GI%20Global%20Report%202012%20(singles).pdf

    The Global Initiative’s global progress report for 2012 is now available (attached), published jointly with Save the Children.

    Ending legalised violence against children: Global report 2012 – the seventh report following up the UN Study on Violence against Children – reviews the progress and delays in prohibiting corporal punishment of children throughout the world, with examples of regional and national developments. It shows how prohibiting corporal punishment is not only a child rights issue but is closely linked with the rights of women, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the right to health. It lists the 33 states which have achieved prohibition in all settings, the 26 which have not fully prohibited corporal punishment in any setting, the 75 which have accepted recommendations on corporal punishment made during the UPR, the 28 which have rejected such recommendations and the more than 80 states with immediate opportunities to enact prohibition.

    In a message to the report, Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the Independent Expert who led the UN Study, writes:

    "The Global Initiative has painstakingly mapped the legality and prevalence of corporal punishment in every state, as well as the cumulative pressure on states from human rights monitoring bodies including now the Universal Periodic Review. The detailed analyses make all too clear that states must be kept under unrelenting and explicit pressure to fulfill their immediate human rights obligations to end the legality of violent punishment of children. States cannot plead lack of resources to delay extending to children full protection under the law. As the report demonstrates there are legislative opportunities now in more than 80 states which could be used to achieve a ban in some or all settings; we must work together to ensure active advocacy to achieve this essential reform."

    For hard copies and further information, contact info@endcorporalpunishment.org.