THE SLENZ PROJECT:
Formal in-world Maori Kaumatua’s
‘blessing’ for Foundation build
Is this a world first?
- he also is in SL as Matua (Teacher) Mistwood.*
For what is believed to be the first time in the history of Second Life, and probably in the history of virtual worlds, a Maori Kaumatua (respected elder) has conducted a public ceremony of blessing in a virtual building with an avatar.
The ceremony was conducted by Manukau Institute of Technology Kaumatua Wati Ratana (SL: Matua Mistwood) on the Foundation Learning build on the SLENZ Project island of Kowhai. Arranged and facilitated by Manukau Institute of Technology lecturer and SLENZ Project lead educator, Merle Lemon (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa) the ceremony was attended by leading members of the SLENZ Project and other guests.
Ceremonies of this nature are part of the normal dedication of New Zealand-Aotearoa public buildings both in New Zealand and abroad.
However, it is believed that this was the first time an event of this nature had been held in a virtual world.
The ceremony included an informal welcome, known as a whakatau, because a karanga (formal welcome to a marae) was not considered appropriate, according to Lemon.The cermemony commenced with a karakia (prayer) offered by Matua Mistwood. DaKesha Novaland (RL: Whaea Helen Rawiri) was present to support Matua Mistwood.
For the ceremony Mistwood wore a kiwi feather korowai (cloak) made especially for the occasion and donated by Second Life builder, Theo Republic, of Adelaide, Australia.
Kaumatua Wati Ratana and Kuia Waea Helen Rawiri, and another helper.
The waiata (song) in support of Matua Mistwood was He aha te hau, a Ngati Whatua song, used to acknowledge the tangatawhenua (people of this place) from Manukau Institute of Technology. The responding waiata was Tutira Mai, in support of the whaikorero (formal speech), delivered by Martin Bryers (SL: Martini Manimbo), of Northland Polytechnic (NorthTec)
After hongi (a traditional Maori greeting) were exchanged via HUDs worn by participants, Kaumatua Mistwood proceeded to enter the Foundation Learning build’s Whanau Room alone to pronounce the blessing.
He later blessed the “food” which was served in world to all guests at the conclusion of the ceremony.
“Despite some small technical hitches, It was a really good experience,” Lemon said after the function. “We made history having an actual Kaumatua come into a Second Life build to bless a room for students. To my knowledge it has never been done before in a virtual world.
“I really loved being able to bring a Kaumatua and a Kuia into Second Life, Their first impression was that it would be a wonderful for the education of Maori students, particularly in Te Reo and literacy programmes.
“They even talked of building a 3d version of a full Maori marae in a virtual world like Second Life,” Lemon said.
The SLENZ Project which has run two pilot education programmes in Second Life is funded by the New Zealand Government’s Tertiary Education Commission.
*All pictures in this blog issue taken by Dave Snell, LTC.
Filed under: Education, Education in Second Life, Education in virtual worlds, Second Life, SLENZ Project, Virtual Worlds Tagged: | Helen Rawiri, Kaumatua, Manuaku Insititute of Technology, Maori, Martin Bryers, Merle Lemon, MIT, NorthTec, slenz, SLENZ Project, Wati Ratana