Simon During

One has entered postculturalism when one accepts that the construction of a non-modern cultural identity is the result of interaction between coloniser and colonised and celebrates the productive energy of (certain) mutual misrecognitions and forgettings. Postculturalism has its politics too. Somewhat in its spirit, a New Zealand identity can be constructed not simply from a Maori or a Pakeha viewpoint but by Maori-ising Pakeha formations and vice-versa. This is an immensely attractive social programme: it counters the Europeanisation of the Maori by constructing a non-essentialist unity across a maintained difference. In New Zealand the programme is not utopian, the state has begun to sponsor it under the name 'bi-culturalism', a name which assumes the postcultural notion that 'cultures' can be chosen, administered, taught, distributed and bureaucratised rather than simply inherited, felt and lived. The Department of Education encourages the teaching of Maori in schools; Maori history is being taught, reenacted filmically, made the subject of television documentaries, so that New Zealanders of all races come to identify their home districts in terms of their precolonial tribal connections and the mythic narratives and events attached to them. The work of Sir George Grey, Elsdon Best, Percy Smith and their Maori collaborators , is now, more than ever, having effects of power as Maori and Pakeha art students rework traditional Maori crafts, visit marae, take part in 'traditional' ceremonies and festivities and -- to take a last instance -- as more Maori words (in non-anglicised pronunciation) are being added to New Zealand English. These reversals and displacements fill the rootlessness both of the heirs of the settlers and the urbanised Maori. (From "What Was the West?: Some Relations Between Modernity, Colonisation and Writing," in Sport (4: 1990): 77).

Postcolonial Overview New Zealand Australia

Last Modified: 15 March, 2002