The piano as cultural symbol in colonial New Zealand
Moffat, K. (2009). The piano as cultural symbol in colonial New Zealand. History Compass, 7(3), 719-741.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2711
The piano was an important cultural symbol in colonial New Zealand, yet although there is a significant body of international scholarship on the social and cultural history of the instrument in Britain, America, Canada, Norway, Spain and India there is a dearth of scholarly criticism relating to New Zealand. Research to redress this absence has revealed that the piano was central to settler culture, demonstrating a migrant desire to replicate the known and familiar but also highlighting settler innovations and an emerging nationalism. International connections between New Zealand, Britain, Western Europe, America and Australia are also apparent in relation to migrant patterns, the importation of instruments and sheet music and networks of musical performance and study. The instrument played a role in the complex dynamic of cultural encounter between Maori and settler, with an initial indigenous negativity and bemusement giving way to an interest in the piano and an appropriation of the instrument into Maori cultural contexts and spaces, including the marae. Prevailing perceptions of gender roles and identity are also challenged by research on the piano. Likewise, an examination of piano and class reveals that the instrument was popular with New Zealanders from all socio-economic backgrounds.
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