The spiritual, cultural and social impact of Waipiro-revisiting an old approach to an old problem


(Abstract for discussion paper to be presented at YMLC 2005-Dr Lance O’Sullivan)


Stinking water was the name given to alcohol by our tipuna.  They called it waipiro.   Maori like our many other indigenous peoples have been decimated by the pervasive nature of waipiro.  You do not need to look far to see the impact waipiro has had on our people.  It is a major contributor in domestic violence, criminal behaviour, poverty, broken whanau and appalling health statistics. 

Waipiro took hold of our people at a time when our way of life was being undermined.  That is, concepts such as mana whenua, te reo, wairuatanga, tikanga and whanaungatanga were being eroded by the onset of colonisation. 

Today our people continue to suffer from the erosion of these important beliefs that defined who we are as Maori.

From early on our tipuna recognised the danger of waipiro.  Leaders such as

Kingi Tawhiao, Te Puea, Te Whiti, Te Kooti, Rua Kenana, Maui Pomare, Te Rangi Hiroa and Apirana Ngata attempted to stem the tide of waipiro that was sweeping through our people.    One of the approaches I will address is that of abstinence.   

Our tipuna realized the clear and present danger of waipiro to the health and wellbeing, the spirituality and the way of life of our people.  In the face of immense pressure our tipuna struggled to convince our people to reject waipiro.

The efforts of our tipuna should be not in vain.  The leadership that they showed should not be forgotten. The challenge to us as Young Maori Leaders is to consider that our tipuna had the solution to this social, cultural and spiritual problem.  As Young Maori Leaders we can show leadership by revisiting the efforts of our tipuna.

A discussion paper will be presented pertaining to the impact of waipiro and the importance of addressing this serious social problem that has cultural and spiritual implications for Maori. The question also will be why Maori so readily took on this vice of colonialism and continue to do so even in the presence of significant harmful affects.  This presentation will attempt to describe ways in which we as young leaders can show leadership in an important social problem.


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