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Cultural Identity Essay

1149 words - 5 pages

The Quest for Identity in New Zealand (1991) by Michael King and The New Zealanders - Multicultural New Zealand (2012) by Jock Phillips are two readings that express similar ideas around culture in New Zealand and shows the impact of the Treaty of Waitangi had on culture in New Zealand. Identity, multiculturalism and biculturalism are key ideas that can be taken from these two readings.

Michael King’s reading The Quest for Identity in New Zealand (1991) has identity as the key idea. The article talks about people of different cultural backgrounds being identified as New Zealanders, rather than what their heritage is. An example of this is when he refers to Mira Szaszy, Sonja Davies and ...view middle of the document...

In 1981 an article an argument for Maori sovereignty was published and began to promote Maori traditions and values, which is when the term biculturalism appeared (Phillips, 2012). This meant that New Zealanders could live in one nation but as two peoples. As Maori people pursued their own traditions and set up the own educational institutions. Many people had settled in New Zealand and raised children with similar beliefs and values to others in the nation. This made it difficult for people to identify themselves as New Zealanders because the idea of a New Zealander was challenged. The multicultural idea came to New Zealand. It was the idea that people could be New Zealanders while retaining their own culture’s language and traditions (Phillips, 2012). This became increasingly important as there were more immigrants to New Zealand from a variety of countries.

Another issue discussed in the Phillips reading was that of integration of the Maori and European cultures. “The Hunn Report (1960) recommended that New Zealand move beyond ‘assimilation’ to ‘integration’, whereby New Zealanders would become one people through mixing the two cultures” (Phillips, 2012. p.12). This means that certain aspects of the Maori culture would be lost because Maori is the minority compared to the Europeans. This prompted the Maori sovereignty issue to arise because, they may have felt that the Europeans were taking over and their culture would be lost. I think it is important that the Maori culture is not lost in New Zealand because it is important to remember how the nation was formed. There are processes in which New Zealand is ensuring that it is not lost, such as Maori being a part of the New Zealand Curriculum for teaching in schools and New Zealand sports teams performing a haka before they compete. I believe these steps are crucial so that New Zealand can remain a multicultural nation, rather than being a bicultural nation.

Both these readings express the idea of identity. Phillips’ reading identifies the difficulty to define a New Zealander and also briefly talks about how some people are not sure how to identify themselves.
“Some New Zealanders avoid an exclusive Maori or Pakeha identity and appreciate their heritage from both. Artist Alan Wehipeihana, who uses both Maori and European symbols in his work says he is one of those of mixed heritage ...

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