Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tena koutou katoa! Welcome!

WIPCE 2005: World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education
Hamilton, Aotearoa-New Zealand, 27 November - 1 December 2005
Theme: te toi roa (indigenous excellence)

Two of my graduate students in the Honoring Generations scholarship program and I recently attended WIPCE 2005 on the North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Travel funds associated with the Honoring Generations grant funded our attendance. Having attended WIPCE 5 in 1999 in Hilo, Hawaii and WIPCE 6 in 2002 on the Stoney Reserve in Canada, I knew that this event would provide an opportunity for the students to participate at the international level and forge lifelong professional relationships. I'll devote the next few blog entries to covering selected topics presented at WIPCE, and introducing some members of our international community, as well as organizations such as the wananga (houses of learning or tribal colleges) and
Te Ropu Whakahau, the organization for Maori in Libraries and Information Management.

We participated in WIPCE in an academic sense by submitting a proposal, a full paper for the proceedings, and a formal presentation complete with PowerPoint slides. In addition, MSIS student Rob Yazzie and I conducted a 20-minute live telephone interview with radio personality/author/musician Stephanie Pohe for Radio Watea, Maori radio programming in the Auckland area. Rewarding as this participation is, the hallmarks of an indigenous gathering are the cultural and celebratory elements.

Following Maori protocols, WIPCE opened with a powhiri or welcoming ceremony, hosted on nearly Turangawaewae Marae, the meeting place along the Waikato river of the Maori queen, Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu. Those of you who have seen the movie, "Whale Rider," have some familarity with this ceremony, which involves karanga (ceremonial calls) to the arrival of manukiri (visitors and guests), whaikorero (oratory), and waiata (song). The powhiri at WIPCE was accompanied by the arrival of waka taua (war canoes) and haka (male dance team).

This opening--followed by haraki (lunch) and keynote addresses--established an arena of expectation and respect, ushering each participant into a sense of dedication to do his or best, commit to the future, and treat colleagues with respect. Isn't this what all professional meetings should aim to do?

Reading Circle

For more about Maori protocol see Hirini Moko Mead's 2003 title, "Tikanga Maori: Living by Maori Values," published by one of my favorite presses, Huia Publishers of Wellington. Who distributes these publications in the U.S.?