The occupation of Moutoa Gardens-Pakaitore Marae : a discourse analysis : a thesis presented in partial fulfulment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University
In 1995, inter-ethnic relations between Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Government came to a head when a group of Maori occupied a public reserve in Wanganui. Issues of colonial injustice in the form of land and sovereignty claims were brought to the fore. The aims of this research were to identify and critically analyse the arguments Pakeha (people of European descent) employed to make sense of the protest and these issues. Interview texts of twenty Pakeha who were interested in, or involved with resolving the occupation were examined. Participants' constructions of sovereignty, land, local concerns and the law were explicated using the discourse analytic suggestions of Potter and Wetherell (1987), Parker (1992) and Foucault (1982). Analyses focused on the constitution of objects, subject positions and power relations in participant's texts. Three constructions of Maori sovereignty emerged. Two constituted Maori sovereignty as Maori desire to govern New Zealand or share sovereignty with the Crown, and the third construed Maori sovereignty as a process of consultation between Maori and the Crown. Land claims were generally construed as significant and in need of redress, although the claim to the land under occupation was contested. The implications of constructing the land under occupation as a marae or public gardens were explored. Examination of the debate surrounding the future of monuments offensive to local Whanganui Iwi located in the public reserve, revealed that accountability for Council's failure to attend to the monuments was differentially attributed to Council or Iwi. Law and order issues were construed as the paramount concern of the citizens of Wanganui. Varying constructions of the law in relation to the occupation allowed for its continuation or called for its conclusion. Analyses demonstrated that the occupiers concerns were undermined or warranted through appeals to rationality, knowledge and equality arguments. The social and political implications of these arguments were explored.