Wednesday, March 3, 2010

german tourist desecrates Maori Rock Art

German tourist desecrating Maori Rock Art
Source Timaru Herald

So breaking into protective enclosures and desecrating maori rock art is just a big joke is it german tourist? You know, I'd rather not have any tourists here if they are going to do that.

From the Timaru Herald
"Ngai Tahu is outraged that a German tourist has broken into a steel cage protecting ancient Maori rock wall paintings and then boasted about it online.
Pictures have appeared online of a German tourist breaking into the Maerewhenua Maori rock art site near Duntroon.
The woman is pictured climbing past the protective netting around the rock drawings and then inside the site.
Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust curator Amanda Symon was outraged.
"The rocks are caged for a reason.
"They have come here and desecrated one of our heritage sites. It is just completely thoughtless to squeeze in there.
"She is brushing past a rock drawing so there is huge potential to do damage."
Young and dumb is no excuse. The rock art is caged for a reason - why is this any different from having a poo in the sistine chapel. That tourist will now reap the reaction to her very poor judgement.

Footnote - More from the Timaru Herald

from comments on the webpage - thanks Mike
"I'm sorry for bending a piece of metal"
"Well, we are some people who first of all never damaged anything, which wouldn't have been damaged before by hammering metal into an ancient rock, but that's another issue.
Yes - called irrelevant. Accept responsibility - you did it and you can't justify it because it was already damaged - it was and that was why protective fencing was in place.
"When we came there, there were several writings [graffiti] already written on the site. And no I don't agree with writing on ancient sites, seriously I would be the last person.
"So we were standing there, trying to figure out which one of the ancient drawings was really ancient and which ones weren't. It was basically impossible to tell and there was the temptation of the fact that somebody must have managed to get into a well secured place.
Whilst i think this tourist is actually being more insulting here, I'm going to let that go because it is a good point we need interpretation to help these people work out the context of this Rock Art - Runaka members would be the place to start.
"So we started wondering how hard can it be to go in there. It was more the fascination of solving a riddle than to actually get a prize for it. It wasn't hard after all."
Yes big olympic gold for you - what a hero.
"That was all. We solved the riddle, got in, took a picture that it is possible to trick your own kind, didn't touch a thing, went out again and left the place exactly how it was before."
Well it wasn't exactly the same was it? Keep fooling yourself.
"She then goes on to say the metal was bent back to its original position.
"Do me a favour and worry about things that really matter, things you have an influence in. Did you hug your kids today? Do you know if they smoke?"
Accept responsibility - you came here and accepted our hospitality.

Don't come back here german tourist, please, we really don't want or need people like you and your mates around.


Shan said...

What a shame that a silly thought manifests into a silly action, resulting in a devastating move that'll wipe out more precious years off our maori rock art's existence.

I wish we knew which blog she posted this on and if she's still in nz. She should not leave nz without her understanding what we've lost becuase of what she's taken.

*sigh* silly girl

Anonymous said...

At least she couldn't get them down her trousers.

Mike said...

Hello. (I found this from the latest version of Stuff citing your blog).

If you haven't yet found it, the original blog post by Silberregen is here.

Thisisnotmyname said...

The arrogance, ignorance and self-absorbed nature of this 'tourist' beggars belief. I mean, really?. I agree with Shan-she clearly has no comprehension as to the cultural consequences of her actions.

Silly, shameful, sick-the superlatives are numerous, but the fact remains, she just doesn't 'get it'!.

Anonymous said...

Get over it and yourself. There was no desecration. As someone said, there are more important things to worry about.

Anonymous said...

So "no harm was done"?? What you mean is "no harm was done THIS TIME". Unfortunately with the electronic age allowing such things to be publicised widely and often triggering emulations (by people who well might do harm!), this cannot be brushed off as an isolated one-off incident. It is recognised that "young people" have not fully developed mentally to recognise the boundary between having a silly thought and converting into a silly action OR to actually CARE if people other than themselves have rights to decide what is fun and harmless, and culturally offensive, so the consequences from this incident may go on for some time at this site or at other sites that now will be seen as a "puzzle" or challenge. Remember, young tourists go through barriers at glacier faces where they are warned of possible death or injury, and the history of this being a real possibility does not stop them, so what will? It is sad that what will happen over time is that more and more special places that should be shared will have to be made inaccessible to everyone because of a few people who are so selfish.

Evelyn Cook said...

@ Anonymous at 8.23am

The protective fence is there for a purpose and there is interpretation of the Rock Art outside the fence, if it hasn't been damaged by other 'ignorant' tourists, and there was therefore absolutely no need to go inside. This young woman shows no respect for the property, values or heritage of others and, it would seem, neither do you.

The Rock Art is priceless to the hapū of the area and, once damaged, can never be reinstated. While you and she may not care, we do.

Attitudes like hers and yours make me despair.

Mike said...

Hi again.

I don't mean to offend anyone with this, but she was one of many people who do this. That's no excuse.

She's now getting a total lashing in the comments from everyone who's been directed to her post, some probably justified but also littered with knee-jerk racist crap that's irrelevant and brings out the worst of New Zealanders. All that's been done here is to provoke a disproportionate amount of rage that people have about many instances at a single person who happened to get caught out.

It's fair enough to criticise in the blog world, and I have no problem whatsoever with what you've posted, given that she posted on her blog after all. I honestly think the bigger problem here is What on Earth was the Timaru Herald doing suddenly now reporting a random blog post from a random tourist that was published well over 2 months ago? It's as if they were randomly googling for key-words and came across an historic entry, then realised they could get attention if they provoked a few people. If people read the rest of her blog they'd realise she's not even in the country any more! It's hardly breaking news, but now it's all over Stuff as a highly read national news item.

Obviously this whole thing about breaking through the barrier is a serious issue, but surely it'd have made more sense to report about the problem of heritage site disrespect in general, perhaps noting her case as an example of many? It'd be a far more interesting and useful story than simply poking people to vent their frustrations at this woman.

It's armchair journalism at its laziest, similar to researching issues by the size of their Facebook groups. Why can't our media organisations get out there and focus properly on real journalism, and get to the essence of the problem? That should be what separates them from bloggers (which certain journalists are often quite damning of).

Marty Mars said...

Fair points mike

but I am not sure about the 'many' people who do this - i can only imagine followers of brailsford perhaps, maybe the very odd tourist - the reason we don't hear about it often is because not many people do actually do this, but i'd be interested if that is wrong.

you are very right about protecting these sacred sites. Tangata whenua do the best they can and they are kaitiaki but these are internationally important maori rock art sites and i would like to see the sacred aspect emphasised.

The woman has recieved severe lashings and that is sad. But the descendants of the people who created these taonga are still here, still alive. It is not good enough to desecrate (and i am using that word deliberately) these sites. Just as it is not good enough that some Maori Rock Art is on private land or not fenced, or is hidden behind gorse bushes or is drowned when dams are built.

Mike said...

Hi Marty. Fair enough comment. I don't know for certain that many people do it. On that point I'm guessing and without anything solid to back it up.

From the relatively limited travels I've done outside NZ compared with some, I've been quite saddened to see how tourists often treat the local cultures they're visiting. (eg. Perhaps 50% of tourists absolutely ignoring clear requests to not take photos in the catacombs at the Museo e Iglesia de San Francisco in Lima. I found the whole experience very off-putting and was amazed at how people simply ignored the requests.) Seeing people ignoring dress codes around temples in Thailand was equally disappointing. Then there was an older American woman in a tour group that we passed in Vietnam, who we overheard complaining to a friend that it was irresponsible of me to travel to Vietnam without being able to speak any English. Apparently she'd been having problems following my accent, and I was far too busy focusing on the Vietnamese phrases at the time. It's sort of ironic somehow. :) I'm definitely one for thinking that if you visit somewhere, though, you should at least try to show respect for local languages and customs.

Does this happen in New Zealand? Okay, I'm not really sure as I don't spend so much time interacting with tourists. Perhaps we just do a great job at emphasising to most people how important certain things are.

I've never met this German woman and I couldn't say for sure that she's not a completely thick and arrogant person. I think it's far more likely that she's simply young, and hasn't yet had some of the experiences that more mature people would have drawn on to understand how things they say and do have impacts on other people... and then she thought she'd boast about something fun to a couple of followers of her travel blog, as young people often do.

As I said earlier I don't want to give her any excuses, but I sincerely hope she learns something positive from this and doesn't end up hating NZ and scarred for life. A lot of people do silly things at times, and I'd wager this includes a lot of people telling her how much of an idiot she is. She happened to be caught out with a set of circumstances that resulted in her photo and details of her actions becoming today's most popular story on one of New Zealand's most popular news websites. If she wasn't prepared for that kind of thing then I could appreciate her acting out a bit irrationally. Hopefully it's a lesson learned, but I also hope she's not destroyed by it.

I notice she's finally removed her blog post, and I'm glad she has for her own sake. At first I thought it was interesting but with so much attention throughout today it turned into something that was unhelpful for everyone.

Anyway, have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

How come no-one has followed up on the girl in the photo? I've seen comments on Stuff and on Yvonne Just's travel blog (now removed) saying that she's part-Maori and lives in NZ ... and she's the one actually in the cave.

Anonymous said...

I think the real issue is what is so precious about a charcoal cave picture?

For all we know it was drawn on a raining day by someone taking shelter from the bad weather long long ago.perhaps travelling to a pa somewhere,or on a hunting trip.

They merely are old age tags by someone bored and passing some time.

They do not hold any special record of maori history,compared to egyptaian glyphs carved in stone.

The real desecration is how such a simple thing can be deemed sacred and tapu.

Further north at pegasus we ngai tahu have no issue ripping up the dead in their resting places for the highly prized tapu subject of commercial property developement for housing divisions.did we fence off that pegesus land to lay in its natural state.No!

Like everything thesedays its all about the money.

ngai tahus historical objects and treasures are out there,just all hidden in family closets and in the wrong hands.

this brings me to the next related topic ,our mighty museum display at the robert mcdogal art gallery.

what a disapointment it was.couple of kete here,couple of cloaks their.few selected pictures .it felt like a kindergarden tutorial of "this is ngai tahu".

As a member of this tribe i felt insulted to be told i could not take photos.As my ancestors look me on the wall,i felt sadness to think that in all their glory they will be relagated to the dark confines of a storeroom after the exibition.

I found that to joe public the flow of informative factual information was spare at best.

It was almost up their with the level of inclusiveness,and openess that Tront gives our members of the tribe.

I was ashamed to see the modern ngai tahu art section,wallpaper with a kindergarden face painted on it."lone cowboy rides to belfast" i believe was the title.

Im fully aware that modern art can take many shapes forms and mediums,but it was all crap apart from fanye robinsons beautifully carved pou of one of his ancestors.

It saddens me that with so much creative talent in our tribe the examples shown did our tribe no favours.

hpope i dont offend to many with what i written.

Just sick of knowing what is truth,what is ceated for all the wrong reasons,tired of the p.c we are maori ,these are our selective tikanga ways.

Mazuki Wakahashi said...

You are all just losers who I bet don't give a rat's ass about all of this crap.
Maoris are just people who only know how to solve problems by physical confrontation, good thing the Europeans actually contained the population when they settled here
Two Maoris beat my dad up in due to road rage, but we reported to police and we caught him, but now to bastard says he can only get 10 bucks a week for the repair of the car that he damaged due to the fact he is a crappy sailor. That is the truth about Maoris.
I bet back then no one would've cared if one of their fellow Maori wrote some random stuff on the wall, they probably would've had thousands of those.
Now their descendants with their horrible tattoos on their lips probably don't even know what the true meaning of the arts were, and they're complaining about someone "damaging" some drawing that wasn't even touched?
Seriously, why do Maoris care so much about their sacred names?

Sometime ago Lego was sued by the Maori representatives for using some of their words and names for their bionicle sets.

I sure would be happy if someone used my name for a famous lego set, and who gives anyway?

Anonymous said...

And then the rain made it collapse in May of 2010 anyway. So a tourist damages nothing and gets lambasted, (rightly so) and then nature proves it was no big deal to what she can do to ancient graffiti.

Marty Mars said...

hmmm anon - not sure about that - still the point about desecration of indigenous ancient art stands - it is not acceptable.