Living Culturally Sustainable Lives in Contemporary Times
Cultural practices have always been in a constant state of transformation but for many Māori, there has always
been a lack of understanding as to how or why these transformations take place. Consequently, this has led to many of our
practices becoming mystified which in turn has led to many Māori struggling to adhere to traditional practices that they do
not fully understand. This lack of understanding has left these Māori with the view that cultural transformation translates as
being less Māori.
This paper deconstructs Māori cultural practices (known as tikanga) to expose its underpinnings with the intent of
identifying how tikanga can be transformed safely and appropriately to allow Māori to live culturally sustainable lives today.
The content of this paper has been taken from my 2011 research titled “Determining and Defining Tikanga in Contemporary
Times” which was aimed at 1) understanding what is tikanga; 2) identifying what determines tikangadevelopment, and 3)
investigating the relevance of tikangain today’s contemporary times.
The need for Māori to understand the nature and intent of tikangais vital to the freedom of the “Māori mind”, which in turn
should see all Māori as valued tribal members; thus freeing Māori from dominant approaches that encourage Māori to
become their own oppressors. By understanding tikanga, Māori will be better placed to identify its relevance in today’s
contemporary times; allowing Māori to appropriately transform tikanga without feeling as if they are betraying or destroying
their Māori heritage.
Keywords- Culture, Transformation, Protocol, Practice, Epistemology, Tikanga, Tapu, Mauri.