OPINION: Here we go again. A Six 60 tour poster has been scrutinised for being “all in Māori and not a word of English” by an Australian TV presenter. Now the band have hit back with nothing but the positivity and respect that they have always shown.
A post shared by Six60’s Instagram shows Rowan Dean, host of the TV series ‘The World According To Rowan Dean’, discussing the band's poster on a recent episode:
“In New Zealand at the moment, there's been a big push to be more inclusive of the Māori, of the Māori language, the so-called iwi - there’s a lot of new language coming in.”
Dean then continues to introduce the “Sixty 60, or whatever” poster by stating that “it’s all in Māori, there’s not a word of English anywhere in there”.
Six 60 writes: “If he hates our poster in Māori, he must really hate this,” before cutting to a clip from their 50,000-person sell-out show at Eden Park. The clip shows the band performing the, ahem, Māori language version of ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ titled ‘Kia Mau Ki Tō Ūkaipō’ and the Ngā Tūmanako kapa haka group performing the powerful ‘Ka Mate’ haka.
However, unlike my initial reaction, the band sign off on a positive note, writing: “Much love Sixty 60 or whatever.”
The band further extend their love to the host by offering “free tickets if he wants to experience some positivity.”
Of course, we’ve been through this all before with the silly racist comments complaining about Whittaker’s Miraka Kirīmi chocolate blocks and backlash to TVNZ news presenter Te Rauhiringa Brown, using both Te Reo and English during a weather broadcast.
However, unlike many of the general public sharing their opinions in the comment section of a Facebook post, Rowan Dean is a qualified, professional broadcaster who has a much wider reach with his platform on SkyNews Australia.
Therefore, at the very least, you would expect to see some research into the discussion he is providing on his show.
Dismissing his incorrect pronunciation of Six 60 at the beginning of the conversation shows from the get-go the lack of respect that he has for the topic.
Now a less noticeable, but crucial moment that you may have missed from the video above is a pop-up on the bottom of the screen that reads: “concert poster excludes half of NZ.”
And exactly which part of a tour poster written in our country’s native tongue and inviting concertgoers to an all-inclusive celebration of one of the most successful bands to come from NZ is excluding anyone?
Although as one commenter gladly pointed out: “that’s really great that half of Aotearoa speak Te Reo though, would be great if the other ‘excluded’ half learns our language too.”
It's no secret that Te Reo has seen a revival over recent years; as a result, its use is increasing as our nation develops and grows.
But it's the headlines, much like the ones above, that remind us that we need to dig our heels in and do the mahi to continue that growth.
As a young Pākehā female myself, I recognise the importance of Te Reo being used or, at the very least, attempted in our day-to-day. I personally love learning new words and phrases constantly, not only to do my part in further developing the inclusion of our native culture but because our native culture allows us to embrace it no matter what our background is.
Being born in Aotearoa with European descent doesn’t exclude me, nor should deter anyone else from incorporating Te Reo into our conversations.
As written by our very own Mai Fm web guy Nikora: “If you are fortunate enough to travel to different parts of the world you will come to realise that in many countries, people can speak more than one language.”
“If anything, a second language makes us a more evolved country in line with the rest of the world where being bilingual is an accepted part of everyday life. Most of the world speaks English, so that already ticks the box of needing to speak a globally recognised language.”
We have the chance to embrace a language that is completely exclusive to our nation because without our own local culture and language, what would make us stand out from the rest of the Commonwealth?
Dismissive attitudes like the ones mentioned above are increasingly finding themselves drowning in irrelevance as Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) continues to blossom and evolve.
So embracing “Sixty 60 or whatever” - who are holding their culture at the highest level they publicly can - is what we here in Aotearoa call progress. And if “excluding half of NZ” is what the rest of the world calls newsworthy, then where was this conversation for the other half that was “excluded” prior?
Living in a world where a country isn’t afraid to share its roots and revive its culture is a world according to me that’s worth living in.
Kia Mau Ki Tō Ūkaipō
Much love, a Te Reo Māori-embracing Mai FM writer, or whatever…