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Back | Programme Area: Identities, Conflict and Cohesion (2000 - 2009)

Contested Realities: Race, Gender and Public Policy in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Draft)



Race, gender, sexuality and class are interlocking: each of these factors impacts on the way the other is experienced. This paper looks at the different ways Maori attempt to address issues of their own oppression, and it considers how oppressive relationships are inflected by gender and class. There is a need to explore how attempts to tackle forms of racial discrimination may benefit different sectors of Maori more than others, and in some cases continue to perpetuate forms of gender oppression. Maori women are at the forefront of the struggle to better the social position of their communities, yet they continue to bear the greatest burden of social, political and economic oppression. The paper also examines whether Maori forms of feminism are integral to the Maori struggle or whether they are another instance of outsider interference. It will trace the historical development of social movements, the 'Maori renaissance', and changing governmental positions and policies toward Maori. Finally, it will explore actual and potential alliances that Maori may draw upon in working toward better distribution of power and resources.

Identity, both personal and collective, is formed in the material reality in which we live, and is a process rather than a result. Our gendered identities determine to a large degree the way we see ourselves and are seen. Similarly, our class location is important to these same perceptions. Ethnicity is another layer upon this, and some ethnic identities produce a far greater and more pronounced reaction than others. The Maori experience of colonization and the contemporary reality of marginalization and deprivation in everyday life mean that ethnic identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand is a site of struggle. As tangata whenua (people of the land, indigenous people) Maori find their social location in New Zealand society highly contested.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 1 Jan 2001
    From: UNRISD