New Zealand history is Maori history: Tikanga as the ethical foundation of historical scholarship In Aotearoa New Zealand
Mahuika, N. (2015). New Zealand history is Maori history: Tikanga as the ethical foundation of historical scholarship In Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of History, 49(1), 5–30.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12539
IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE TO FIND that New Zealand history is Māori history. In 1987 when Tipene O’Regan stated that the ‘the past belongs to all New Zealanders, but first it is ours’, he was drawing attention to New Zealand history’s foundation in Māori history.1 Thinking about New Zealand history as Māori history does not mean denying the histories of European, Asian and Pasifika immigrants, but draws attention to the notion that ‘settler’ aspirations to claim ‘Aotearoa’ as home occur within a much broader narrative of indigenous occupation and struggle.2 Indeed, how can New Zealand history be the story of ‘here’ when it has ‘othered’ indigenous narratives that speak to the heart of what it is to belong in the land of the long white cloud? Yes, New Zealand history is Māori history – and that presents a problem for tangata whenua self-determination. Likewise, for Pākehā, it is an issue because until New Zealand history recognizes and enables the centrality of Māori history it will always fail to articulate the collective ‘us’ that is so often assumed in the discourse of ‘full and final settlement’.3 In its current form it will never be able to ethically or adequately account for the shaping of a New Zealand identity that finds ‘composure’ in the story of how Pākehā became ‘native’ New Zealanders.4 For Māori, these issues are keenly felt, because while New Zealand history has always been about us, it has predominantly been articulated on the colonizers’ terms. In the ‘discursive constructions’ that are New Zealand histories, the indigenous have regularly been culturally appropriated, dislocated and misrepresented.5 Even when Māori have turned their back on the writing of New Zealand history it has been, and will still be, a history of being or becoming ‘native’. Yes, New Zealand history is Māori history – so why does it feel like the story of Pākehā settlers?
University of Auckland
This article is published in the New Zealand Journal of History. Used with permission.