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14 APRIL 2010

If there is anywhere in the post-colonial world where two cultural worlds truly live an engaged life alongside each other, it's in New Zealand

"The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi which, in usual imperial style, seized sovereignty from the Maori and laid it at the feet of Queen Victoria did so on condition that their property rights and political and cultural integrity were respected. Needless to say in the generations that followed, this pact was respected more in the breach than the observance, but New Zealand history did follow its own extraordinary course.

In their first wars against violations of Waitangi the Maori effectively won the battle with the pakeha. Decimated by imported diseases for which they had no immunity, the Maori were expected, at the turn of the 20th Century to be on their way to extinction or extreme marginalisation like native Americans or Australian aborigines. Nothing of the sort has happened.

Today they constitute – by one count – almost 20% of the population and astonishingly a special tribunal created in the 1970s has been ruling on land claims dating back to the post–Waitangi years. Maori and the descendants of intermarriages that go back deep into the 19th Century, are to be found in every leading walk of life in the country.

Of course there have been serious problems of unequal social opportunity, of street gangs. But if there is anywhere in the post–colonial world where two cultural worlds truly live an engaged life alongside each other, it's in New Zealand."

(Simon Schama, 9 April 2010, BBC News)

Fig.1 Warwick Freeman, 1992. Tiki Face

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TAGS

18401970s19th centuryAborigineAotearoa New ZealandAustralasiaAustralian AborigineCommonwealthcultural heritage • cultural integrity • diseaseextinction • gangs • historyIndigenous • intermarriage • land claims • MaorimarginalisationNative Americans • Newstralia • Pakeha • political integrity • postcolonial • Queen Victoria • settlement • social opportunity • sovereigntyTe Tiriti o Waitangitiki • tribuna

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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