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  • Areta Pakinga

Dating as a Modern Māori

Published in partnership with Salient Magazine (Victoria University of Wellington student magazine) and Ngāi Tauira.

Picture this: it’s a Saturday night, and you’re out on the town. You are currently in Siglo and the balcony line is non-existent, so you slide outside for a cheeky vape to compliment your vodka Fanta when suddenly you lock eyes with a tāne a few feet away. Brown skin, luscious locks, and even better smile, it takes only a few minutes for him to sidle over to you and strike up a conversation. He introduces himself, and just when things seem to look good, he has a Māori name.

Why should it matter if he has a Māori name, you ask? Well, my dear friend, this is the first roadblock in your quest for a bed buddy for the night, and let me tell you why.

Dating as a modern-day Māori is hard. I hate having to admit this because I come from Te Arawa, the land of star-crossed lovers. Yet, this may be my very own downfall, as I’ve grown up expecting to have my own Hinemoa and Tūtānekai style love story.

However, this is the 21st century, and sadly colonisation has left me in a predicament. My bloodlines run in all the tiny crevices of Aotearoa. Nonetheless, this leaves us young Māori folk in a dilemma. Am I willing to risk looking like a com- plete nerd by blatantly asking for this balcony babes pepeha “just to be safe”, or will I enter the land of uncertainty, head held high in the face of, dare I say it, incest? Now you may be thinking (especially if you aren’t Māori), “why would you even enter the murky waters of possible cousin- hood?”, and to that I must introduce Safari Hyne’s guide to dating cousins. SAME WAKA = ALL GOOD SAME IWI = ALL GOOD SAME HAPŪ = UP TO YOU SAME MARAE = NAH, BYE SAME WHĀNAU = TOO FAR, BRO Essentially, what I am trying to say is that this is not some twisted Alabama cousin dating kink, but rather a situation of need- ing to find out how closely related we are.

Familyhood is viewed as a multifaceted sphere in Te Ao Māori; as a result, it pro- vides tāngata Māori with the opportunity to explore this realm. You just need to specify how closely related you are, hence the whole asking for your pepeha business.

This prognosis may appear to dismiss the hardship of dating as a modern-day Māori; however, this is not the case. Coupled with the trials and tribulations of being possible cousins, I also need to consider whether this specimen of interest is worthy of being in the presence of my whānau. If you’re Māori, you’ll understand what I mean here; all those aunties and their need to express opinions, all those annoying snotty-nosed cousins, and most importantly, those staunch parents of yours. Will this Siglo stunner be a ‘pick up the tea towel and help’ type of person, or will they sit back and idiotically watch the mayhem that is your whānau?

So why not just date outside your culture, you ask? Here’s the thing, it is just as daunting as dating within your culture, if not more.

Branching into the fields of non-Māori leaves me feeling as though I must make sacrifices; am I looking for love, or am I looking for cultural sensitivity? Now don’t get me wrong, I went through my white boy loving stage, but this quickly became a “you walk on stolen land, you owe me reparations” situation after having to correct them one too many times on how to pronounce my name. Dating white boys felt like I was fumbling through the trenches of an identity crisis. Of course, there are challenges and perks to dating in general, but attempting to cross the boundary of mutual cultural assimilation is challenging and frankly exhausting. Dating non-Māori may be your thing, though, especially considering only one of you has to get over the trauma of being Māori in the New Zealand school system.

I’m not trying to scare you away from dating in general, but merely present my case as to why navigating this sphere of life as a Māori is HARD. As Māori, we are inherently meant for greatness, so not being able to absolutely dominate the dating game is discouraging.


Engari, do not be disheartened, my friend. If you’re finding the dating field hard to navigate, it’s not your fault but that of those around you. Our ancestors only wanted the best for us; I just don’t think they realised that modern-day dating for Māori would be a mix of in real life tinder and ancestry.com.

It’s never too late, though, e hoa mā, date who you want, learn what your type is, be a hangi pantz; just remember the two gold- en rules of dating as a modern-day Māori. Don’t date your cousin (ESPECIALLY the one who’s always inviting you to the mattress room, and do not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES date a racist.

xoxo,

just another confused modern-day Māori


Written by Areta Pakinga

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air