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article imagePregnant women not welcome at New Zealand museum exhibit

By Lynn Curwin     Oct 11, 2010 in Entertainment
Wellington - Pregnant or menstruating women are not being welcomed at one of the collections at the Te Papa national museum in New Zealand, which has outraged many people.
Regional museums have been invited to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of some of Te Papa's collections on November 5, but women who are pregnant or menstruating are to be excluded from one of the collections.
Te Papa's collections included the condition that "wahine who are either hapu [pregnant] or mate wahine [menstruating]" were unable to attend.
Jane Keig, Te Papa spokeswoman, said the policy exists because of Maori beliefs around the items in the Taonga Maori collection, which is included the tour.
"If a woman is pregnant or menstruating, they are tapu (forbidden),” the New Zealand Herald quoted her as saying. “Some of these taonga have been used in battle and to kill people.
"Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects."
She said the museum agreed to the rule when the collection was taken and the policy does not apply to the general exhibition. The museum will not try to stop pregnant women who want to take part in the tour, but does prefer that they “respect the belief.”
The e-mail which has been sent to the museums offered these women the chance to take the tour at a different time.
Chris Finlayson, the New Zealand government's arts, culture and heritage minister said the warning should just be considered an advisory and individuals could make their own decisions on whether to follow it.
Feminist blogger Boganette said that religious and cultural beliefs should be ignored if they're going to insult or oppress women.
Margaret Mutu, head of Maori Studies at Auckland University, said the objects were obviously dangerous.
"They are tapu and pregnant or menstruating women are tapu,” Stuff quoted her as saying. “It would be very unwise to put the two up against each other."
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