This study will examine how Maori are textually represented in the construction of New Zealand. It will do this by comparing texts of collected biography, dating from the late nineteenth-century until the present. Obviously this use of Maori is not unique to reference biography, but this thesis will largely focus on the texts
1 "Text" in this study will take on a wider meaning than "book". Following Derrida, a text will be seen as going beyond the apparent borders of single entities to the other writings that inform the production of meaning in single writings. See, Derrida, Jacques, 'Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences', Writing and Difference, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978.
at hand not the wider cultural practices that may lie behind them. The focus on the "text" at expense of "context" reflects the underlying belief that the making of the Maori culture has largely been a textual act.
2 This approach toward cultural invention can be broadly categorised as "constructivist". See, Tilley, Virgina, 'The Terms of the Debate: Untangling Language About Ethnicity and Ethnic Movements', Ethnic and Racial Studies, 20:3(1997), pp.497-522.
Texts do not reflect wider political or academic procedures, they construct them. This thesis will look at this phenomenon in the specific location of the reference biography genre. The texts chosen to form the basis of this study, may appear an arbitrarily selected group with very little that would encourage a natural comparative study. However, as the study progresses the affinities these works have in their modes of textual production will be illustrated. At this point it will be enough to state that these texts all collect together multiple biographies, in the broadest sense of the word, under a national title. Most are concerned with constructing a Maori biographical object in this textual site. [From Introduction]