Incest is as bad as voting for ACT: Māori & personal freedom

Jamie Whyte is proving to be a bit strange and prone to thoughtless pronouncements. Like Colin Craig without hair.  In an interview on Ruminator he stated he didn’t think the State should deny consenting adult siblings the right to marry if they wanted to. Just because. It was a bit strange.

In any case, his strangeness inspired me to a bit of left field Māori philosophy; it got me thinking about incest and Māori. Incest is a significant taboo that features in our earliest creation mythologies about Hinetitama, the daughter of Hineahuone and Tane Mahuta:

 …Tane Mahuta took [Hinetitama] as a wife and in the Aonui month of the Orongonui season  (Pipiri) she gave birth to Hinerauwharangi. After a while Hinetitama, watching  her child with her husband, became curious as to who her father was, for she had  no recollection of her father. She pondered on this for a few months and then  asked Tane Mahuta. He evasively referred her to the posts of her mother’s house.
A great dread came over Hinetitama as she began to suspect the truth and  asked a second time. Tane Mahuta did not reply, but made an unmistakable gesture.  Hinetitama, so shocked, told Tane Mahuta that she could not continue in the world  of light but would seek the protection of her grandmother, Papatūānuku and would  retire to the lower world.Her reply epitomised her grief and  abandonment, “The path of Tahekeroa to the lower world shall be layed down  for all time. From the Muriwaihou I will look up to you and our offspring moving  in the world.” Tane Mahuta opposed her but Hinetitama, disillusioned  and saddened, was determined to leave him. Her final words were full of  foreboding to mankind, “Remain, O Tane Mahuta to pull up our offspring to the  day, while I go below to drag them down to night.”

She chanted  karakia which weakened the power of Tane Mahuta and sent the children to sleep.  Her last gift to him was the Adam’s apple which was placed in his throat in token of their relationship.

When all was quiet, she descended to the  entrance of the lower worlds where Tutewatawata the guardian of Tatau o te Pō  greeted her and attempted to dissuade her from her purpose, but knowing the  consequences Hinetitama remained firm and replied that her reason for going to  the worlds below, was to protect her children of the Aoturoa…. It was at this time that Hinetitama changed her  name to Hine nui i te pō.

Hinetitama’s story is from

Incest is a taboo precisely because it occured. You don’t warn against things that never happen! It is ruinous to a social order because it diminishes tapu, that is the well being of individuals and the community. It diminishes that well being because our well being is based on whakawhanaungatanga, the building and maintenance of relationships.

An incestuous relationship between a father and daughter or a brother and sister disrupts:

  • the heke tika (the direct line of descent) because it folds relationships back in on themselves;
  • the potential for relationships that build the mana of the community because it removes the whakapapa of one whānau from being joined to that of another;
  • the mana tuku iho (power and authority handed down) as the mana that has come from your ancestors and parents to you is for your children and grandchild, not to be trapped in a relation dead end;
  • and mana tuku (the shared power within sibling relationships) because there are roles to be played in whānau that keep us all well that an incestuous relationship perverts.

An incestuous relationship ripples out beyond Whyte’s consenting adults and diminishes the wider community.

Thinking this through made it clear to me that there is no philosophically or intellectually sound way in which a Māori person immersed in their kawa, tikanga and reo could ever vote for ACT with any integrity. We are a communal people; our knowledge and wisdom directs us to consider all of our relationships and interactions in relation to their impact from us, to our whānau, to our community and beyond.

A libertarian philosopher like Jamie Whyte can argue individualism and personal freedom. But it is an un-reality that pretends your personal and intimate decisions have no impact outside of you – or two in this instance. It’s rubbish thinking from a rubbish party.