Reading Pakeha?

Fiction and Identity in Aotearoa New Zealand


Aotearoa New Zealand, “a tiny Pacific country,” is of great interest to those engaged in postcolonial and literary studies throughout the world.
In all former colonies, myths of national identity are vested with various interests. Shifts in collective Pakeha (or New Zealand-European) identity have been marked by the phenomenal popularity of three novels, each at a time of massive social change. Late-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and the collapse of the idea of a singular ‘nation’ can be traced through the reception of John Mulgan’s Man Alone (1939), Keri Hulme’s the bone people (1983), and Alan Duff’s Once Were Warriors (1990). Yet close analysis of these three novels also reveals marginalization and silencing in claims to singular Pakeha identity and a linear development of settler acculturation. Such a dynamic resonates with that of other ‘settler’ cultures – the similarities and differences telling in comparison.
Specifically, Reading Pakeha? Fiction and Identity in Aotearoa New Zealand explores how concepts of race and ethnicity intersect with those of gender, sex, and sexuality. This book also asks whether ‘Pakeha’ is still a meaningful term.


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Christina Stachurski is a sixth-generation New Zealander. Her ancestors arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand from England (1841–1911), Scotland (1842), Ireland via the Australian goldfields (1864 and 1871), and Poland (then Prussia) in the 1870s, and included Catholics, Anglicans, and Methodists. They settled variously on the West Coast and in Nelson, Taranaki, and Auckland, working as farmers, millers, mothers, storekeepers, domestic servants, masons, flax-cutters, publicans or miners. Two fought in the New Zealand Land Wars; the son of one of these was a surveyor and his son an historian who, in 1928, researched and documented the acquisition of Maori land in Taranaki by other Maori and Europeans, an unfashionable topic at that time. An award-winning playwright and theatre director, Dr Stachurski teaches Modern Drama and Creative Writing at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
Man Alone
the bone people
Once Were Warriors
Works Consulted