Wednesday, January 19, 2011

off his head

This story about young christians carrying a couch and barbecue up to the top of Mt Taranaki for a feed and relax is disturbing. This mountain is sacred for maori, but unfortunately that sentiment is either not known or not cared about.

A group of 25 young climbers took the North Egmont route and hauled a couch and barbecue up the mountain so they could relax in style. ... The group spent 12 hours on the mountain, three of which were spent cooking and relaxing at the summit.
I'm all for people having fun but the lack of knowledge of maori customs and beliefs is really a stumbling block to creating a country for all of us.

There is a strong response here
Barbecues and graffiti on top of Mount Taranaki have outraged Taranaki DOC boss Phil Mohi. "The act of cooking over an ancestor is tapu – it's something that you just don't do," he said.
He said the summit barbecue was disappointing because the young people there probably didn't realise or hadn't learnt that the mountain and especially the summit is a very sacred place for iwi of Taranaki.
"We discourage camping at the summit and try to make people aware that the very highest part is the most sacred of all – and ask climbers to avoid standing there.
"There's a difference too between eating prepared food for sustenance and actually cooking on the summit," he said.
Barbecue organiser Jordan Millen said climbers were not trying to offend and were unaware they were doing so. "We are sincerely sorry for any offence we may have caused during this trip on Mt Taranaki, we were unaware of any tapu or the sacred nature of the summit and that it was not respectful to cook there," he said.
A good apology - I don't blame the kids, the knowledge is not mainstream but it should be.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marty,
However the bile aimed at Phil Mohi by one short sighted talk back radio host spewback show was completely unacceptable. The former shortness of Whanganui seemed to insinuate that because they were a 'Christian' group they had every right to climb Mt. Egmont, as he put it, and at least were not killing their children or being part of his dreaded feral underclass. His slurs on Phil were dreadful. I knew Phil when he was running the office here in PN through giving him feed back on my frequent outings into the Ruahine and always found him patient, responsive, and caring. Perhaps this group was just ignorant of the mountain, but it would not have been hard to find out the protocol. I also question their more or less commandeering the mountain top for their own use over a 12 hour period. I suspect that there may have been a few others coming along during that time for a more esoteric wilderness type experience only to find a party going on. Not very respectful to be honest.

Mike said...

Hi Robb & Marty. Just to touch on Robb's esoteric wilderness comment and commandeering the mountain, what I learned from heading to the summit on Boxing day was that a nice day on a weekend is probably not the best time to look for such an experience on the mountain anyway. I met scores of people, many in sizeable groups. Some people I spoke to were surprised there weren't many more, because apparently on a nice day there usually is.

BBQ aside, I don't think a group of 25 people going up as a social event for the day would be so much out of place --- significant groups climb up to camp overnight on the top quite often. Virtually anywhere in that park can be reached in a daywalk --- my father in law and brother in law (both keen mountain runners and orienteers) used to drive to opposite sides of the mountain, run across and swap keys in the middle. Whether on the top or in the park around the edges, few parts of Egmont National Park are guaranteed to be very remote.

The scratched graffiti on the top was disappointing to see. Sometimes it's interesting to see marks left by odd people 50 or 100 years ago as reminders of significant climbs. Unfortunately what's there now is a consequence of so many people visiting the summit and there's simply so much of it that probably wouldn't be out of place on the wall of a down-town railway station. It'll probably be smothered next time Fanthams Peak blows, of course, and showers the summit with ash, but that may still be some time away and I expect the eradication of graffiti will be the least of people's concerns.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
I take your point about not expecting to find wilderness solitude on Taranaki. I spend quite a bit of time up there in winter, and while I never have climbed it yet - hip issues - want to make a guided winter climb a goal.
Still, to come across a group having a barbeque with a couch on the summit I am sure would take the gloss off what might be a once in a lifetime climb for many, and I just find it in bad taste.
I was mostly upset at the little generals character assination of Phil and DOC, and the fact these were "good Christian kids". I wonder what the response of him and others would have been if they were good Muslim kids and instead of "Jesus is my Strength" had spray painted "Praise Allah"? I rather think the indignation would have been loud and long.

Mike said...

Hi Robb. Fair enough comments. I rarely listen to talkback but I can easily imagine the kind of crap that will have been spewed so hosts can make people angry enough to get them to call in. Michael Lhaws at a guess? Even the Stuff article has 313 comments at the time I write this.

To be honest the cooking issue hadn't crossed my mind until now, either. It'd be naive to think that many people don't cook on the summit of Mt Taranaki, given how many people camp up there overnight to watch the sunset and wake to the sunrise, and have been doing so for many decades. Most simply use smaller gas cookers and manage to avoid drawing attention to themselves, keeping a much lower profile.

Anonymous said...

altattasDid they bring the couch back down or is it littering the mountaintop?

Ruahines said...

Kia ora,
To be fair, they brought the couch, barbeque and even additional rubbish down - which is good.
Still the spew back lowest common denominator crap this morning regarding this is beyond the pale. The red neck bows being drawn to once again put down Maori sadden and repulse, but I guess do not surprise me.
Why is it so easy for people to laugh at the concept of tapu or holding the natural world in a sacred view and see that as being a back ward "native" view in need of rescuing by the 'superior" white beliefs. I find it more difficult to believe a benevolent God told an old man to build a boat and stock it with every animal, plus feed, and sail around in a great flood for a few years before landing on a mountain.
Phil, if you are out there - Kia kaha mate, don't let the bastards grind you down.

Marty Mars said...

kia ora koutou

Good discussion and hopefully the publicity from this event will enlighten others.

The attack on maori values from madlaws is as nauseating as it is predictable - if he is so concerned with christians and their beliefs how can he disregard maori and their beliefs - I just don't understand the logic.