I am a second generation New Zealander. Both my parents were born in England and after traveling all around the world on their OE’s they fell in love with New Zealand and decided to settle here. I have lived my whole life in New Zealand and my parents taught me to appreciate the amazing environment we have here, that they didn’t have growing up. Growing up we traveled all around New Zealand and we spent a lot of time tramping the great NZ walks or camping in remote campsites. I love that in a few hours drive from my home city of Christchurch you can be on the vast expanse of the Canterbury plains, on the peaks of the Southern Alps, the beach forest in Fiordland or the dry barrens of the McKenzie country.
As a British-New Zealander, living in Christchurch, the dominant culture I have been surrounded by is Pakeha culture. Pakeha culture is a primitive one, it has only been around for a couple of hundred years and hasn’t had the time to develop in isolation that many other cultures have experienced. Historically, Pakeha culture has attempted to define itself in relation to Maori, bastardizing symbols such as the koru for representation of New Zealand culture. However this type of cultural appropriation is insensitive and doesn’t consider Maori tikanga. I have a solution to the Pakeha identity crisis. I think Pakeha culture should be taking a page out of Maori tikanga and actively acting with kaitiakitanga of the New Zealand. If Pakeha culture needs to define itself in relation to others, it should start with actively loving and protecting the beautiful New Zealand land that we all rely on.
In fact part of upholding our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi is actively protecting Maori taonga for all people which includes the treasures of New Zealand’s land. Unfortunately, New Zealand has had a rocky history upholding this part of the treaty in cases like the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act have ignored Maori rights to access the land and denied rights of Maori to act with kaitiakitanga over land. That act was repealed and replaced in 2011 opting for public protection and access of the foreshore and seabed. This beautiful land (and see) is what makes me feel connected to New Zealand and I feel is what defines me and a citizen of New Zealand and what all who live here have a duty to protect together.
White, Anna-Marie, and Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers. KaihonoĀhua = Vision Mixer: Revisioning Contemporary New Zealand Art. Nelson: Suter Art Gallery TeAratoi O Whakatū, 2014. Print.
Walters, Gordon. “Arahura.” 1982.Screenprint on paper. The Suter Art Gallery: Te Aratoi o Whakatu.