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Maori–Pasifika relations: A problematic paradox?

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Maori people maintain ambiguous relations with the rest of the Pacific. Genealogical relationships continue to be celebrated in ongoing connections across a wide range of domains and discourses, but the colonial history of New Zealand has also turned Maori into a community of indigenous people that has been eclipsed by European settlers over the past two centuries. As a corollary, Maori are embroiled in an intense struggle for recognition of their proprietary rights as the indigenous people of the islands of New Zealand. Over the past few decades, campaigns for a comprehensive settlement of their colonial grievances have gathered some momentum since the Treaty of Waitangi was gradually recognized again in the 1970s and 1980s. The negotiations between Maori and the government about historical and social justice for the indigenous population, however, may to some extent be counterbalanced by the increasing number of migrants arriving in New Zealand, from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

In the current competition for scarce resources, Maori have consistently argued that within the New Zealand nation state the establishment of biculturalism should precede the development of multiculturalism, implying also that indigenous rights should prevail over those of settlers and migrants. The political dichotomy between Maori and Pacific Islanders raises the question to what extent it distorts historical and contemporary connections. This article explores the multiple histories and manifold relations between Maori and Pacific Islanders in the past and present in order to examine whether the paradox of historical connections and contemporary competition can be resolved.
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Keywords: Maori; Maori–Pasifika relations; Pacific Islanders; biculturalism; multiculturalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Radboud University Nijmegen

Publication date: October 1, 2014

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