Remembering and belonging : colonial settlers in New Zealand museums : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University
This study approaches museums as socially constructed signifiers of group identities. Focusing specifically on museological representations of colonial settlers at museums and historical sites in New Zealand, I analyse how this group is constructed in terms of its association with colonialism, empire, and other historical and contemporary groups in New Zealand. In my results chapters, Pride and Shame and Parts of a Whole, I investigate different ways in which colonial settlers are represented in terms of their relationship to Empire, the nation, and other groups within New Zealand. Representations which position settlers within colonial discourses and portray them as heroic pioneers work to justify their presence in New Zealand on the basis that they earned their place through suffering and hard work. This assertion of place and belonging is then questioned by representations which situate colonial settlers within post-colonial discourses that highly criticise the actions of settlers and the institution of colonialism. Representations of colonial settlers can also construct them as related to a cultural group, usually referred to as 'Pakeha', and part of New Zealand's bicultural and multicultural identities. I examine how biculturalism is represented in different ways and use the concepts of separate biculturalism and blended biculturalism to explore these differences. These different political identities reflect a strong sense of ambiguity and ambivalence over New Zealand's political identity, and emphasise how stories from the past can be used in different ways to justify different perspectives of contemporary social and political relationships.