Saturday October 20, 2018

If Gods can be gay, why can’t we? Maori author Witi Ihimaera is a moving force in giving voice to Maoris in New Zealand

Ihimaera's book 'Nights in the Gardens of Spain', a semi-autobiographical work about a married father of two daughters coming out, was turned into a movie

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Witi Ihimaera. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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– by Preetha Nair

Sept 04, 2016: Aboriginal, litterateur, and rebel, Witi Ihimaera is a moving force in giving voice to the Maoris in New Zealand. The first published novelist in Maori literature, the 72-year-old has several novels, short stories and recognitions to his credit.

September Aboriginal, litterateur, and rebel, Witi Ihimaera is a moving force in giving voice to the Maoris in New Zealand. The first published novelist in Maori literature, the 72-year-old has several novels, short stories and recognitions to his credit.

His works were a harbinger of change to the Maoris, says Ihimaera who questioned in his works.

Ihimaera’s book ‘Nights in the Gardens of Spain’, a semi-autobiographical work about a married father of two daughters coming out, was turned into a movie.

The author, who also worked as a diplomat at the New ZealandMinistry of Foreign Affairs, spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Mountain Echoes Literary Festival held in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan.

Maori People. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Maori People. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Excerpts from the interview:

Q) You were the first published novelist in Maori literature. How important is it to tell stories of the marginalised?

A) It is important to tell the story of the Maori in a world of huge voices and political entities. We are a minority, and also one among the many indigenous communities around the world. Our story will help give voice to other indigenous people whether they live in India, or North America or in South East Asia. We all have the same stories of colonisation.

Q) Did you face resistance from the West?

A) My life was always about resistance. We were denied educational opportunities and there was institutional racism. Our land has been taken away and I have seen my grandmothers struggling for land to farm. The consequence of our fight through literature and other means was that our land was returned after 30 years. The government is providing better housing and education for the Maoris now. There is a better understanding of Maori culture now and my work is a part of New Zealand’s curriculum.

Q) You came out of the closet in 1984 and have dealt with sexuality in your writings. How was it received?

A) One has to be brave when dealing with issues like rape and homosexuality. There is authentication of sexual identity in mythology that has been denied by the West. Europeans look towards Gods in Greek mythology who can shapeshift and make love with women, men and animals just like some Hindu gods. Why can’t we accept homosexuality in the way our mythology explains it? I operate in a Maori value system and don’t care what people say.

Witi Ihimaera memorial plaque in Dunedin. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Witi Ihimaera memorial plaque in Dunedin. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Q) In your memoir, you have written about being abused as a child. How difficult was it to write about it and what was the reaction?

A) I always adopt an organic approach to writing, looking at it culturally and socially. I wanted to address the issue of child abuse. My work has always been a shock to many. The Maori community is now largely Christian and it was difficult for them to acknowledge it. I am accustomed to shift the universe a little. That’s my theory of change. Each one of us has the power to change the system.

Q) Who’s your favourite Indian author?

A) It should be Arundhati Roy. She is an intellectual and erudite woman.

(IANS)

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal it is just our choice of sexuality and the sooner we understand this, the better it is. Art and literature are the best means to spread awareness about such issues.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal, it is just a choice of sexuality by an individual and the sooner we realize this the better it is for mankind. Art and literature is probably the best way to spread awareness about issues like this.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not a sin and art and literature is the best away to create awareness regarding such issues.

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    this article is a great read. To get to know an author who has been through so much.

SHARE
  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal it is just our choice of sexuality and the sooner we understand this, the better it is. Art and literature are the best means to spread awareness about such issues.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal, it is just a choice of sexuality by an individual and the sooner we realize this the better it is for mankind. Art and literature is probably the best way to spread awareness about issues like this.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not a sin and art and literature is the best away to create awareness regarding such issues.

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    this article is a great read. To get to know an author who has been through so much.

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Actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra Faces an Unpleasant Experience of ‘Racism’ at Sydney Airport

Along with the note, Shilpa Shetty Kundra also posted a picture of her bag and asked her followers "whether it is oversized or not"

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Shilpa Shetty Kundra
Shilpa Shetty faces racism at Sydney airport. (Wikimedia commons)

Actress-entrepreneur Shilpa Shetty Kundra on Sunday alleged that she faced an unpleasant experience for being “brown” at the Sydney airport over her cabin luggage. Upset by an official who was curt, she says people’s tone must not change with preference to colour.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra, who dealt with racism in 2007 when she was a contestant on the fifth season of the British reality show “Celebrity Big Brother” — which she went on to win — faced the latest experience while boarding a plane for Melbourne from Sydney.

The 43-year-old took to Instagram to share the ordeal with a Qantas Airways lady staff member over a cabin luggage, which was deemed as ‘oversized’ at the check-in counter.

A furious Shilpa wrote: “At the check-in counter, met a grumpy Mel (that’s her name) who decided it was ‘okay’ to speak curtly to ‘us’ (brown people!) travelling together. I was flying business and had 2 bags (my allowance) and she insisted and decided my half empty duffel bag was oversized (to check-in), so she sent us to check it in at the other counter dealing with ‘oversized luggage’.

“There a polite lady (yes this one was) said, ‘This is not an oversized bag, please check this in manually if you can at another counter’ (all this happening while the counter is going to shut in five minutes).

Shilpa Shetty Kundra
Shilpa Shetty Kundra.

“As the manual check-in wasn’t going through for five minutes (we tried), I went upto Mel and requested her to put the bag through as her colleague said it wasn’t an oversized bag. She refused again… Just being adamant especially when I told her this is causing a lot of inconvenience.

“We had no time to waste so we ran to the oversized baggage counter and requested her to put the bag through which she did after I told her that rude Mel had issues! To which another colleague joined in and reiterated my duffle wasn’t oversized and could’ve easily been checked in.”

The “Dhadkan” actress said her intention to narrate her experience is to make Qantas Airways take cognisance of the matter.

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“Their staff must be taught to be helpful and tone can’t change with preference to colour. ‘We’ are not pushovers and they must know that being callous and rude will not be tolerated,” she added.

Along with the note, Shilpa Shetty Kundra also posted a picture of her bag and asked her followers “whether it is oversized or not”. (IANS)