The Field Museum in Chicago, which houses the only whare whakairo in America, Ruatepupuke II, has come under fire from an American-based Māori group, Tihei Mauri Ora. The group has launched a petition to ensure Māori rituals and traditions in Ruatepupuke II are led by Māori in the United States, especially for visiting Māori and New Zealanders to the country.
Tihei Mauri Ora has launched an online petition insisting on creating an amicable relationship with the Chicago museum for all Māori living in America.
Tihei Mauri Ora Founder Tracy Maihi says, “We understand and appreciate that they are the caregiver of Ruatepupuke II but we think it should not be this difficult for us to be able to come and use the marae for her original purpose.”
The group has spoken out after the museum decided to use a non-Māori group to perform a possible traditional Māori welcome for the All Blacks/Māori All Blacks tour.
Maihi says, “We actually have no raruraru with our Phillipino cousins or our Native American cousins because I think if they were aware of the politics and how offensive this is to us and our culture then they would not participate.”
Chicago Field Museum Curator John Turelle says, “At no time have we said to anyone that you can't do it, but whether or not in a sense there would be room to add how many people, but maybe she didn't connect with the right people working with us, I can't explain.”
Ruatepupuke II is the only carved ancestral house in the United States after it was sold to the Field Museum in Chicago in the early 1900s.
Turelle says, “They did not realise I think that the Field Museum had and was making many efforts to make the wharenui and the marae a living part of Chicago.”
The petition will be handed over to the museum ahead of the All Blacks/Māori All Blacks tour in November.