By Cary Harrison, KPFK Public Radio / HeTravel.com/go
(Hawkes Bay, NZ) Traveling here in New Zealand, we see a different relationship with indigenous people than neighboring Australia. The well-known Australian aboriginals are still largely personae non grata despite technical cultural protections. The lesser-known Māori of New Zealand have a much different relationship with their former colonists. When Australia became settled, vulnerable aboriginals had no defense against British firepower and thin “promises”.
Differently, neighboring New Zealand’s indigenous Māori tribes were considered one of the world’s fiercest warriors and were able successfully to outflank British guns using darts, spears, stone blades, and clever foliage maneuvers, resulting in a long-standing treaty which still holds today.
Stuart, this straight Māori man, here in Picton, New Zealand, is one of the many in NZ’s indigenous multicultural population. He explains to me that the Māori make no distinction between straights and gays. Their word for “gay” is “Pupi” (pronounced Poo-wee), meaning “lovable child”. Think about the definition of their word for gay. It’s very definition is positive and embracing and is given legitimately when the gay child is revealing its truest self.
Māori children were traditionally selected for duties based on aptitude. The ones that fit the warrior model were selected out to travel with the adult men for hunting and defense/offense. The other males demonstrated a keen ability for cooking and weaving and remained with the mothers where it it was understood that this was where they preferred to be. The warriors took off and the Pupi become responsible for the infrastructure and wellness of the culture. Gay Pupi remains completely accepted, not through legislation or forced political correctness, but through common sense and the notion that Nature always has the most sensible plan.
Stuart tells me he has two lesbian sisters and a gay cousin. He also fully understands the mechanics of all sexual attractions, despite his specific interest in women. To him, he’s happy to have found a mate. He says there is no differentiation whatsoever when diverse families visit each other and all mates are treated exactly equally and with no special scrutiny.
In this photo, he sports the Māori Warrior tattoo of the stingray. It is witnessed upon his flesh to defend his culture and protect others, like me, who roam life’s path alongside his. He hugs me goodbye and thanks me for asking questions that, he says, no other white man has asked. In my travels, I have been taught to grow a pair and do more than air-kiss the locals like some impotent zoologist safely staring at specimens behind glass. This is why I particularly love being a part of HE Travel. As a public radio host, photographer, and sociological adventurer, HE has always encouraged deeper exploration of all cultures and the powerful spectrum people of our world.
Cary Harrison’s HE Travel tours can be found at HeTravel.com/go.