New Zealand Identities: Departures And Destinations.

Author:Spoonley, Paul
Position:Book Review
 
FREE EXCERPT

NEW ZEALAND IDENTITIES: DEPARTURES AND DESTINATIONS Edited by J.H. LIU, T. MCCREANOR, T. MCINTOSH and T. TEAIWA VICTORIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2005

Identity, whether indigenous or immigrant, ethnic or national, presents New Zealand with some significant policy and political challenges. The last two decades of the twentieth century put questions of indigeneity at the centre of political debate and produced some interesting policy developments, including what should be done about breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and how best to deliver services to Maori. But that hardly exhausts the issues. The arrival of Pacific peoples and then the change from preferred source countries for immigrants in the wake of a review of immigration policy in 1986 have created a new cultural diversity, especially of what the Canadians call "visible minorities". The nation has been de-hyphenated from the state, and major questions have been raised about what exactly constitutes the nation and therefore nationality, as well as how best to identify and recognise cultural difference. Anything that contributes to these debates is to be welcomed. A book which indicates that it wants to explore how identity is socially constructed, that such constructions inevitably "carry" ideology, and that they constitute questions rather than statements, offers promise.

The problem with edited works, almost by definition, is that they are uneven in their focus and interest. The same is true with New Zealand Identities: Departures and Destinations, although there is more than enough in this book to attract readers who will, at least, feel satisfied with the bits that most interest them. There are chapters that deal with the broad sweep of issues, including citizenship (Pearson, Zodgekar), biculturalism (Liu, Levine) and the Treaty of Waitangi and the Waitangi Tribunal (Byrnes, Barclay). National identity is the focus for Ward and Lin, and Paul Morris notionally explores spirituality, although the chapter is more about the imagined nation. Maori identity receives the attention of McIntosh and of Borell. The first deals with the marginalisation of Maori and makes an interesting distinction between forced and fluid Maori identities. Borell looks at young Maori in south Auckland ("living Southside"), although it would have been good to have details of when the research was done and a reference to what is obviously a thesis. McCreanor provides an analysis of Pakeha discourses, mostly in...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL