Decolonising self - Kia purenga ihomatua anō i ahau
As a young chef I acquired practice fear through the daily judgement of my craft from my chef master. As such, I was always double checking my actions and ensured they ‘performed’ in ways which meet the approval of the master. As an emergent chef, I developed professional fear and dark thoughts of “not being good enough” as my culinary practice was critiqued and judged more widely amongst my culinary peers. Finally, I experienced institutional fear through the food critic gatekeepers who controlled, regulated and maintained my obedience to the cultural norms, values and beliefs logic, inherent within the white institution of haute cuisine.
I can now see how practice and professional fear as an elite chef have played a significant role in regulating and maintaining the institutional logic of haute cuisine within my professional life. Does all of this sound slightly familiar? A changing world and a fear of being excluded and therefore not fitting in. A world where one’s daily practices are gazed upon, judged and regulated by the cultural tastes and aesthetics of a powerful higher order. A higher order that has the self-appointed jurisdiction to authorise what is normal and therefore what is culturally permitted. This all sounds a lot like the process of colonisation that my tīpuna experienced.
I truly believed I was helping my students achieve a better culinary life by teaching them how to perform culinary whiteness; gastronomic civilisation through enculturation into the cultural logic of the haute cuisine kitchen. Upon reflection, this was a culturally naïve thought, yet, it’s the same culturally naïvety that the settlers brought to these shores when they thought they were doing Māori a favour by saving them through civilisation. Even though you have the best intentions at heart, as my experiences highlight, you can easily slip into the role of the white coloniser and saviour of the uncilivised soul.
What started out as a hunch to do something different, ended up with me radically questioning the dominant logic of culinary arts education. As culinary educators teaching now on the BCA programme, our philosophy of teaching is to nurture and support the cultural nativeness which already exists within the student, so that they may find their own place within a foodscape and contribute to it in their own meaningful way. My pedagogic values of relationship and care are embodied within te ao Māori. Whiteness is only a temporary state of being, and, like a cloud, it fails to possess the permanence and grounding of whakapapa.
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Nōku i tunu kai rangatahi, ka tū winiwini ā-tinana au nā te kaha o te kanone e taku māhita kaitunu. He rite tonu taku titiro taurua au i aku mahi katoa, kia whakaū, he tika mā te māhita kaitunu. Hei kaitunu aranga, he nui aku winiwini ā-ngaio me ētahi whakaaro pōuri, arā, “kāore ngā mahi i te nanea”, anō nei ka arohaehaetia whānui aku mahi tunu kai e aku hoa aropā. Ka mutu, i rongo au i te winiwini ā-umanga mā ngā kaiārai arohaehae kai, nāna i whakahaere, i whakarite, i mau hoki ahau kia ngohe ki ngā ture ā-noho, me ngā whanonga pono e kaha whakapūmau ki roto i tētahi umanga kai nihowera.
Ināianei, e kite ana au i pēhea te winiwini ā-tinana me te winiwini ā-ngaio i kaha whakapā ai i te whakaritenga me te whakamau i ngā whakaaro ā-kai nihowera i aku mahi ngaio. He mea waia tēnei? He ao hurihuri, ā, he winiwini o te whakakorenga, kātahi te whakaaro ka puta, ehara au i te tangata arotau. He rite tonu te tino aro ki ngā mahi, i arohaehaetia, i whakaritea e ngā ture ā-noho o rātou i mau ai ki te mana whakahaere. Nāna kē rātou i whakatū ki reira kia whakatau i ngā ture ā-noho, i ngā mahi tika. Ka pērā hoki mō ōku tīpuna nā te tāmitanga i ngā wā o mua.
Pono marika aku mahi hei tautoko i ngā tauira kia tutuki i tētahi haerenga kai pai ake mā te whakaako ki a rātou ka pēhea te mahi tika Pākehā; te whakapākehātanga kia noho tika ai i raro i ngā whanonga pono o te kai nihowera. Nā aku whaiwhakaaro, he whakaaro kūare tēnei, he ōrite tēnei mahi kūare i ngā mea i haria e ngā tangata whai ki konei, arā, i whakaaro rātou ko rātou anō ngā kaiwhakaora i a ngāi Māori mā te mahi whakapākehātanga. Ahakoa he ngākau pono, i miramira aku wheako, ngāwari noa te tū hei kaiwhakapākehā, hei kaiwhakaora i ngā tāngata mohoao.
I tīmata hei rongo ā-puku kia mahi i tētahi mea rerekē, kātahi ka pātaihia e au ngā whakaaro matua i te ao mātauranga kai. Hei kaiako kai i te Bachelor of Culinary Arts, ko tō mātou rapunga whakaaro hei akiaki, hei whāngai i ngā ahurea taketake, i ngā mea māori ki roto kē i te tauira, kia taea ai e ia te whai i ō rātou tūranga tika i te ao kai, te whakauru whaitikanga ki te kaupapa. E whakapūmautia aku whanonga pono whakaako o te hononga me te manaaki e te ao Māori. He tūranga taupua noa iho, ā, me he kapua, kāore i mau ki te whakatūturutanga me te whakapaparahi o te whakapapa.