‘Māori History can be a Freeing Shaper’: Embracing Māori Histories to Construct a ‘Good’ Pākehā Identity
Recent upheaval in racism debates across western countries is exemplified in New Zealand in the decision to compulsorily teach Māori histories in schools. Until recently this history has been largely marginalised and ignored by settlers/Pākehā who maintained a belief in histories which served to legitimise the Pākehā position of power. Earlier analyses have identified how the media has maintained normative Pākehā dominance and power through a consistent dissemination of a limited set of racist discourses. Our thematic and discursive analysis explores how media that embrace Māori histories (9 media items published 1 April 2019 to 30 September 2019) work to provide discursive resources for Pākehā in navigating the current debates. A process of hard work followed by transformation into an enlightened future was identified as a pathway for Pākehā to navigate the current upheaval and construct a ‘good’ Pākehā identity. The construction of a racist Pākehā outgroup works as a comparison to emphasise the ‘good’ Pākehā as ideal, and to assign blame for past and present racism. Our analysis demonstrates that despite overtly positive coverage, media accounts can still work to maintain Pākehā centrality and side-line or render invisible structural racism and Pākehā privilege.
Keywords: te Tiriti o Waitangi; colonialism; media studies; discourse analysis; New Zealand history