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Archive for Thursday 2nd January 2003 - The Maoris

Here is something the Maoris can teach us…

It was reported that Maoris in New Zealand interrupted a road-building scheme. The road would have destroyed a mound which, said the Maoris, was the lair of a sleeping monster. If disturbed, it would bring ill luck. So the road was diverted.

That increased my respect for those sturdy Polynesians. They understand their own land, and its spiritual character. In defending it, they are doing all New Zealanders a favour.

Native and local people all over the world have the same view as the Maoris. If you construct roads through the countryside, without considering its sacred places and landmarks, you will create chaos. The spirit of the land will be injured, and will give injury back to you. Western industrialists, ‘opening up’ China in the nineteenth century, could not understand this attitude. What did the Chinese mean by dragons in the landscape, and how you must not offend them? They went on building railways and factories, ruining the country’s ancient, sacred pattern. The results, as the Chinese had foreseen, were wars, revolutions and bloodshed.

There is a lesson we can learn from this. Every natural thing around us is precious, every sacred or legendary site, every old stone, tree and pathway. Each time we lose one, we are further away from the world of ancient magic, which will one day return. We should work towards that day, rather than away from it.

By reminding us of this, the Maoris have done us a favour too.

John Michell

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