Video | Learning from one another: An international exchange programme “for a new future for the Ainu people” – Japan

In January 2012, a Maori leader, Te Ururoa Flavell visited Ainumosir (Hokkaido) and Tokyo and witnessed the work Ainu people are doing in their communities to revitalize their culture, language, and rights. He immediately suggested that Ainu youth come to Aoteroa (New Zealand) to see how Maori community members have been working to ensure cultural survival.

Immediately, we formed the Aotearoa-Ainumosir Exchange Program Committee to seek out participants. […]

Our Struggle

The situation the Ainu people find themselves in Japan, while similar in many ways, is also very different from that of the Maori people. The Ainu were just recognized as the indigenous people of Japan in 2008 and the Japanese government has only just starting to draft proposals for Ainu policies. In New Zealand, the Maori have been successful in their tireless work to advance the revitalization of their rights as indigenous people since the 1970s. Furthermore, the Maori people are contributing significantly to the development of New Zealand society in all of fields, whether economic, social, cultural, or political. The Maori language is an official language along with English. […]

Due to anxiety about deeply rooted discrimination which pervades society, or the inability for people to discover meaning in being Ainu, there are still many people who have yet to assert their Ainu identity. According to a Hokkaido Prefecture survey there are about 24000 Ainu people, however in reality there are several times more Ainu people than that figure leads us to believe. Out of the 5,000 to 10,000 Ainu people living in the Tokyo metropolitan area alone, only around 100 of them are active as Ainu. […]

The Impact

Seeing with our own eyes the endeavors of our indigenous Maori brothers and sisters, coming in contact with their passion, touching it with our own hands, feeling it with all of our senses, will surely inspire us to come to terms with our sense of Ainu identity which some of us are still grasping for in the dark. We sincerely hope that this exchange will give us an opportunity to become aware, to see with brand new eyes, the deepness of the traditions that our tipuna (Maori word meaning ancestor(s)) have left for us.


Participants in this program will become even more aware of the significance of being Ainu, and if they are able to stand firmly in their decision to travel on the Ainu path, they will be able to make important strides for a new future for the Ainu people. At the same time, we believe it will create an opportunity for Japanese society to become more a fair society- one that respects a diversity of values.

We do not intend to have this program available only for this year, but rather, we hope to make this a mutually-beneficial exchange that lasts long in the future, where we not only send Ainu to New Zealand, but also have Maori people visit us where we live, further solidifying the bonds between the Ainu and Maori people.

Source: Ainu Maori Exchange | Indiegogo
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Date Visited: Mon Mar 25 2013 12:46:32 GMT+0100 (CET)

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