Prince William’s been stood up

I don’t know how much interest you have paid to the recent royal outrage.  Prince William has been refused a visit, essentially stood up, by New Zealand’s Maori King.  King Tuheitia’s office rejected the offer of a visit from the Royal couple on tour down under on the basis that the time allocated was too short.  90 minutes allotted for the visit to the Maori leader’s base in the North Island was not long enough for proper protocols to be observed.

A senior Maori official explained that the Maori Royal was not prepared to compromise the tikanga (customs) to fit into a pre-determined schedule. It would have put the king in an impossible situation.

You may think that how you react to this depends on how Royalist you are by inclination.  I know several Republicans out there who are thinking “90 minutes – that’s ages, 30 minutes would be plenty thank you and much more than an hour and I’m in danger of NLTB.” (Not Listening Too Bored)

Others, with a bit more respect for this kind of thing, will indeed be appalled.  They will be muttering about status and respect and surely our Royal Family is bigger than theirs.

A recent lecture about ancient funeral rites has led me to believe that the divide in opinion over whether this is a shocking shame or completely understandable depends on something else entirely.  If you put the situation in the context of an understanding of the relative funeral rites and, general keeping your ancestors in the right frame of mind to intercede on your behalf, of the Aborigines and the Solomon Islanders then the whole thing makes more sense.

The Solomon Islanders (just East of Papua New Guinea) traditionally used valuable shell rings to ensure that ancestors were properly honoured.  Until Christian missionaries arrived in the 19th century their customs involved  binding the skulls of the deceased in beautiful shells fashioned into rings which were also used to festoon the small huts in which the skulls were kept.  So the customs revolved around valuable material possessions.

In contrast traditions in Aboriginal societies were about painting memorial logs with the correct images by tribe.  The knowledge was passed down in great secrecy from generation to generation.  So their customs revolved around accuracy of rare information applied through traditional ritual.

I don’t know if the Maori rituals follow this pattern, but it seems to me that if you think that the importance of William means that the Maoris have missed out then you’re judging like a Solomon Islander and if you appreciate the sensitivity of the importance of doing the rituals properly or not at all then you’re thinking more like an Aborigine.

Status from possessions or knowledge.  Which tribe do you lean to?  Although on the surface this distinction may seem a time ago and a long way away from London’s adland, I do wonder if similar tendencies determine whether someone choses to become a planner (Aboriginal traits) or a buyer (more Solomon Island) ?


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