Letters - Take advantage of diversity

The wonders of Aoteroa (My View, April 12) refers.

I am a Malaysian living in Aotearoa New Zealand. The article refers to the positive Maori contributions to NZ culture and the natural environment.

Accolades showered on the "Tangata Whenua" (Indigenous people of the Land) are commendable and deserving.

Malaysians need to take heed and learn from the cultural renaissance of the Maori people and the enormous value of indigenous contributions.

It is worth noting that the NZ Government has a bicultural agreement with the Maori who in turn accept and accommodate the multicultural nature of the country's population.

The Maori willingness to allow diversity of all forms to exist is a big plus to New Zealand and has brought about seismic changes to this country bringing many benefits across the board.

Malaysia can also take full advantage of her diversity for advantage to the economy and inhabitants.

I am disturbed to observe the lean towards Arabism and not Malay culture, in particular our dress code. Bumiputras in Malaysia have their own cultural values and traditions (adat and customs).

There is nothing more elegant than our traditional baju kurung and kebaya and the accompanying selendang.

Our cultural traditions, heritage and values must not be eroded and superceded by other cultural intrusions wholly.

In Aotearoa, the Maori are reclaiming their presence in society, despite being only 15% of the total population and championing not only their unique cultural values (dances,songs, carvings, kapa haka, artifacts, body motifs) but also are making remarkable inroads into environmental care, tourism, wide ranging economic activities and have forged a brand of their own and is world renown.

The haka as performed by the All Blacks is a worldwide symbol of New Zealand.

The Maori economy overall is worth around NZ$60 billion (RM185 billion). Maori economic activities here have made a big dent in forestry, fishing, retail and tourism.

In education, every university in NZ has a thriving Maori faculty and there is an independent Maori university.

Te Wananga (Maori University) is a unique centre of higher learning devoted to the world of Maori knowledge and to see and experience the world through Maori eyes.

The method of teaching here is based upon knowledge and wisdom passed on by their ancestors, always remembered in Maori culture.

Te Reo Maori (Maori Language) is now widespread in application when once it was almost extinct.

When Maori unite and pool their resources together, their power of bargaining and investments will shape and impact greatly in NZ.

The strength and nature of Maori in sustainability and environmental care is born out from the belief of Maori that they are the caretakers of the natural environment.

They are also generous in allowing everybody, including tourists to use their land and in some cases have gifted the land and mountains to the crown for all to enjoy.

Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak has grasped quickly the uniqueness and impact of Maori culture within NZ society and Malaysians can do likewise.

He aha te mea nui te ao?
He Tangata! He Tangata! He Tangata!

(What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!)

Elias Hashim
Wellington