MĀORI IN UNEXPECTED PLACES: Watching Māori on Television





television drama, Māori, audiences, Kaupapa Māori, affect


This paper draws on a study of audience responses, prompted by understandings of the power exerted by representations in television dramas. The wider study explored Māori and non-Māori meaning-making, emotions, feelings, and affective practices that arise when viewing Māori representations on locally produced television dramas. Findings from focus group responses to an episode of the local television drama The Brokenwood Mysteries are organised here, using a framework of the expected and unexpected that aligns with theories of Kaupapa Māori and affect. Three key themes emerged: ‘The Expected and Unexpected’; ‘Reflection and Challenge’; and ‘Motivations and the Writer’s Responses’. Although attention is on Māori, Pākehā responses are included. Māori were deeply affected and worked hard to pre-empt and address what they saw or expected to see. Although some Pākehā expressed discomfort and concern when responding to negative representations of Māori, they did not demonstrate the same levels of negotiation and contestation.

Author Biographies

Angela Moewaka Barnes, Massey University

Dr Angela Moewaka Barnes (Ngāpuhi, Te Kapotai) is a social scientist, with media expertise, particularly representations of Māori and Māori film. Her research is grounded in Māori paradigms, Kaupapa Māori and draws on a range of theories including indigenous theory and methodologies. Angela has developed her research areas to include Māori identities, youth and social media marketing, natural environments and racism. Te Rōpū Whāriki SHORE & Whāriki Research Centre Massey University, Auckland

Helen Moewaka Barnes, Helen Moewaka Barnes, Whāriki Research Group, SHORE & Whāriki Research Centre, College of Health, Massey University, New Zealand

Helen Moewaka Barnes (Te Kapotai, Ngāpuhi), is a Professor and Co-Director of the SHORE & Whāriki Research Centre, Massey University, New Zealand. She has experience in quantitative and qualitative research, with particular expertise in Māori methodologies and methods.




How to Cite

Moewaka Barnes, A., & Barnes, H. M. . (2022). MĀORI IN UNEXPECTED PLACES: Watching Māori on Television. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 19(1), 34–59. https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-id512