Culture no excuse for lack of planning

Tuesday August 05, 2014 Published in Letters to the Editor
Dancers at the Te Maeva Nui float parade. 14072868 Dancers at the Te Maeva Nui float parade. 14072868

Dear Editor, I read the response to a call for professionalism in the Te Maeva Nui parade and basic efficiency and courtesy to the people who had come to watch a display of the Cook Islands culture. 

It saddens me that your answer is to accept the embarrassing display as “who we are”. You are right that we live in Paradise and we should love the life and accept the pace is slower here and we should all be relaxing in the wonder of our surrounding environment. This is, of course, why tourists come here – to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and the stresses of modern living. They come for the blue of the lagoon and the green of the palm trees and the smiling faces of the friendly and hospitable “locals”. 

Your comment of “this is our country, this is how we do it here” to explain away the lack of proper planning and the poor performance of those involved is the saddest comment of all.  Too many times now our people use the “island time” slogan as a reason for being late, lazy and disorganised.

Were you in the crowd with your tamariki and grans waiting, waiting in the rain for the parade?  Did you wait with the tourists who had come to see “our culture” on display only to be further disappointed by a truck with “weeds” covering it and some men in coloured wigs sitting at a table drinking, as a display of our culture?

For the mamas and papas in the crowd who remember the pride our nation had at that time, pride in our uniforms for work at the bank, pride in our bodies and health as a nation, the parade was a sad reminder that you are right this is “how we are now”. 

You say organisation is part of the papaa culture, yet we have embraced all that is bad from their culture and now we are a fat nation with diabetes and a high-drinking nation with domestic violence. Pride in our nation starts with the small things – I go to the bank and am greeted by large overweight mamas; in the early days we were never fat, we ate the fruit off the trees, we grew all our own food and we walked, if there were big people on the island they usually came in from other islands outside of the Cooks.

Now we are a nation that stands on the back of a truck with no decorations and chew gum, not even greeting the crowd in a parade to display our culture. Mind you, after waiting an hour in the cold and rain, I can understand their loss of enthusiasm. The pride of the floats could be seen in the weaving, most likely by the mamas, the kikau gathered by the papas, still no flowers, no hibiscus, where was the colour and fun on the floats? Why did the organisers not have more of the culture groups showing their lovely costumes dancing in the street? The parade could have rivalled those in Rio with colour, music and dancing, like when we first became a nation.

Now you are right, Ana, this is who we are - a sad, lazy, fat, drunk nation that has no pride in our culture, our health, our environment or our government. 

Rangi Ngatangiia

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