Fear, laughter, and culture

“These Maori men are told they need to be like their ancestors, they need to hold themselves up to a high standard, but how do they do that while still existing in today’s society? That’s the question.”

The question, indeed! The answer to that central question is what my generation of Pacific Islanders must answer. We seek the balancing spot between the tradition and modern.

I identified with a lot of what the crew and cast had to say in this article about a new NZ comedy series, Find Me a Maori Bride. It’s encouraging to see a group that wants to showcase culture through humor instead of using culture as an easy punchline.

“What I hope we’ll get across is that the culture isn’t behind closed doors. There are times when I have felt it’s too difficult to get in there, but it’s actually obvious.

“It’s right there, and there are people really wanting to share it with you, and there’s absolutely no reason why you should be afraid.”

Have you ever passed on an opportunity to learn about culture because you were afraid you’d say or do something wrong and come off as insensitive? I struggled with those fears at the beginning of this project. As with many things in life, it’s all about your attitude. I’ve found that humility and respect are what our keepers of culture appreciate, they will forgive a lot if your heart is in the right place.

Melodie is the director and producer of Spirit of Tivaevae. Born in New Zealand to a Cook Islander father and American mother, Melodie was raised in the United States. Her family background gives her a unique perspective on being a Pacific Islander raised outside the culture.