Te pūtahitanga o ngā tai e rua : The meeting of two tides : journeys of mixed heritage Māori/Pākehā towards identity strength : thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements of a Master of Philosophy (Māori Studies) at Massey University, Wellington Campus, Aotearoa New Zealand
This thesis aims to provide new insights and understandings about the challenges, vulnerabilities and strengths associated with being of mixed Maori-and-Pakeha heritage in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is based on the life narratives of 11 men and women of dual Maori/Pakeha heritage. It looks at change over time, particularly the process of seeking and developing cultural and ethnic identity strength as Maori. It acknowledges on-going stresses and tensions; coping strategies; and describes two cases in which coping strategies were overwhelmed and breakdown occurred. It considers whether a dual Maori/Pakeha ethnicity can be maintained and stabilised over time in the light of inequities and racism in society. Most participants in this thesis are high achievers in terms of education, career success and acculturation and socialisation as Maori. These factors perhaps facilitate the level of self validation required to tolerate the stress of maintaining a dual identity position for some.
Identity strength as Maori has been achieved for some by periods of occasional or intensive immersion in Maori social and cultural contexts. For some, their Maori identity became so
predominant that their Pakeha/European identity was no longer of much significance in their lives, though they continued to accept and acknowledge it. Some were definite in their expression of dual Maori/Pakeha ethnicity and the need for more awareness and visibility. Ethnicity is changeable and affected by social and political factors. Most participants lived and worked in urban contexts, and had a range of cultural and social affiliations, including Maori. The Maori cultural and political renaissance has involved defining Maori in terms of difference from Pakeha/Europeans, but this thesis explores the overlap - genetic, cultural, and social - between the two ethnic groups and provides new insights into diversity within the Maori ethnic group.