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PHILIP'S BLOG: Real-ising diversity – why polarity no longer works

UPDATE 6 January 2016
  • According to the NZ Herald, "the woman who says she had her teeth knocked out for speaking Te Reo outside an Auckland karaoke bar has been charged with assault alongside her alleged attacker." A police statement said, "The version of events given by the 46-year-old female is not substantiated by this footage."

A woman was punched in the face and lost five teeth on New Year's Eve, because she spoke Te Reo. She said, "Ka kite ano (see you later)," to friends, then was sworn and shouted at by a man for being "palagi" and speaking Māori. When she challenged him back, he attacked her.

It turns out Shona Maiden was of European and Māori descent. It's an extreme but pertinent example of the assumptions and polarity we often apply to each other's diversity. We decide, usually based on appearance, whether someone is or isn't something and then act on that decision. Putting aside the debate whether non-Māori should or shouldn't speak Māori*, in Shona Maiden's case, the man made the assumption she was European and not Māori when, in fact, she was both.

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