The Past Is A Foreign Country

1582 words - 6 pages

In the past, things were different to the present day. Thus "the past is a foreign country- they do things differently there" is an accurate comment about New Zealand's Society in the last century. Many of these differences can be seen in the text, "Tu", by Patricia Grace. Firstly, one of the crucial differences was the way Maori families in rural New Zealand lived near each other in iwi groupings. Next, the place of religion was an important difference in New Zealand society, as more New Zealand families attended church regularly. Another important difference was the general frugal attitude to resources, where things were usually reused. Furthermore, society's attitude towards women was very difference, and this is another difference that will be discussed. Finally, the opportunity to travel was limited to a selected few, in the past, and many relatively poor people, including Maori, did not have a chance to go overseas.Sixty years ago in New Zealand, many Maori families were grouped in rural areas according to their different iwis. This can be seen when Pita runs from his own home to his relatives' home in order to find "aunties" and "uncles" that could help him restrain his abusive father. He had "gone out over the bedroom window sill and ran to Uncle Willy's place", meaning that Maori families must have been living within walking distance. This is also shown by the place where another one of Pita's uncles lived. Pita "shuffled over the plank across the creek" in order to arrive at Uncle Juju's home, which would have been very close to his own home. The location of these homes was mostly rural as Pita had "hurried as quickly as he could through the swampy paddock that was holed by the feet of cows", and had "removed the long, muddy singlet that he was wearing, putting it in a bucket to soak and…washed the bog off his legs." This location can be contrasted to the present, where Maori are generally split up into nuclear suburban families. In addition, the Maori people, at present, generally live in more modern and suburban areas, which would have been unlikely in the past. Thus, in the past, the composition of rural Maori families was very different to that of the present.The place of religion in the past was another important difference. Throughout the book of "Tu", both Tu and Pita have memories to do with the church, especially of Sunday Mass. His can be seen when Pita was "on his way home" but came near the "Sacred Heart Cathedral", where he went it, "crossed himself with holy water… and after a time he kneeled to pray." Another example is the memory Tu has of Sunday Mass: "…among concrete arches, statues and stations of the Cross; of red velvet and wood and paint and plaster; the smell of polish and lit candles." This shows the significance of the place of religion in both Tu's and Pita's minds, even making TU reminisce during the bloody experience of war. The priority of religion in modern lives seems to have waned...

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