8 May 2013

Social networking sites virtualise Maori cultural practises

7:23 pm on 8 May 2013

A Maori PhD candidate at Massey University says Maori are starting to adapt their kawa (protocols) to allow tangihanga (funerals) to be broadcast over the internet.

Acushla Dee O'Carroll, of Nga Ruahinerangi and Te Atiawa descent, is studying the way social networking sites such as Facebook and Skype are reconnecting Maori with their whanau, iwi and marae.

She says the webcast of Parekura Horomia's funeral last week was a good example of the way Maori are using this kind of technology.

Ms O'Carroll says many people can't attend tangi because of the travel involved, so they are using Skype to watch the event without being there in person.

She says her research involved speaking to a Maori woman who used Skype to see her whanau at her sister's funeral and to say her good-byes.

Ms O'Carroll says Maori are increasingly taking the traditions of the marae on to social networking sites, which are becoming places where tikanga Maori is expressed.

She says her thesis will be published in three weeks.