Te Karere Ipurangi
Fiji Coup Supplement - May 25, 2000

May 25, 2000. 10.30am.
European Principle vs Polynesian Kinship


Kia ora koutou

At the heart of the Pacific Way, which is so much at odds with the Western Way, is the network of kinship ties and reciprocal obligations that guides all cultural, social, economic and political thinking and behaviour throughout the Pacific. This is the Maori concept of whanaungatanga.

In cases of wrongdoing within the ties of kinship, reconciliation is valued above retribution. When punishment is found to be appropriate, it is framed within the concept of reconciliation.

In stark contrast, the European concept of law values retribution more highly than reconciliation.

Europeans in the region, including Pakeha New Zealanders, have long insisted that their way is the dominant way, and that the Pacific Way must give way. They doggedly insist on the rule of Law - their law.

At the moment in Fiji the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs chaired by Major General Sitiveni Rabuka) is engaged in a search for a resolution to the coup crisis within the Fijian and Pacific Way. The European world is insisting that they act according to European principle.

Whatever the chiefs decide, it will have an internal logic and validity that will be absolutely appropriate in the Pacific, no matter how much it will infuriate Europeans. The fact that Europeans will not understand, and will not want to understand, does not make it any less valid or appropriate.


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