New Zealand has endured more than its fair share of cultural loss. It took less than 180 years for the Māori language to move from being New Zealand’s only language, to its minority language, to being banned in schools, and nearly extinguished entirely. Much of Auckland’s historically beautiful and imposing Victorian architecture is now “missing” as a result of the notorious CBD demolitions in the 1970s and 1980s.
Fortunately, we caught ourselves on both counts before the damage was irreversible. The Māori language is now enjoying something of a resurgence thanks in no small part to its promotion in education, and due to the creation of a Māori language TV station, Māori Television. Auckland’s architecture is slowly but steadily becoming something to be proud of again.
“To us, it’s just not acceptable that a story, or a language, or anything that deeply defines a people could ever just vanish.”
The pain caused by these sorts of losses is still very intense in New Zealand’s collective cultural memory, and as a result we as New Zealanders feel well placed to help others keep their culture alive. We’re just figuring it out, and we’ve arguably done a better job than many nations have.
To us, it’s just not acceptable that a story, or a language, or anything that deeply defines a people could ever just vanish. So when we see tragedies like the desperation of the native Alaskan people in their attempts to survive integration into Western culture, or millenium-old buildings in Syria being ruined by civil war, we get sad, and we get angry.
Kiwa’s response is an ongoing commitment to help cultures big and small tell their stories through our Slam programme, as well as through graphic novels, revitalisations of fairy tales, and accessible and inclusive eBooks. We’ll keep at it until your story is preserved too.