Thursday, December 9, 2010

Commodifying of cultures & traditions

Surprisingly, commodification on the local Maori culture is not widely spread throughout the world yet. The Maori culture is still a very unique and exclusive identity to New Zealand, not commonly found in other countries. Unlike, for example, the American style. This is probably due to the fact that the Maori culture is still not widely known to the entire world, since after all, it is one of the latest countries to be discovered by the Western. In the past, the Maori is quite strongly protective of their own culture and country, where tourists from the western parts are not very welcomed. The Maori traditions are still being practiced mainly by the New Zealanders themselves, such as the Kapa Haka, crafts and festivals.
However, you certainly can find some slight commodification on the Maori culture, such as the sale of art works to tourists. Contemporary Maori Art can also be found, and some traditional art pieces are being made and sold as souvenirs in places like Nelson and Waiheke Island. In Rotorua, you can even purchase your own taonga (a treasured thing that could be anything from artefacts to tokens to spiritual items) from the galleries. Performance groups can also be found and used to showcase the Maori culture to the tourists. For example, a group, called the Pounamu, claim that their “performance vary and can be designed to meet your needs.” This would mean that the traditional dance and music that they performed no longer holds any true meanings as they are performed as and when people requested them to do so.

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