Racism in Aotearoa New Zealand : analysing the talk of Māori and their Pākehā partners : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Previous studies on racism in the field of critical social psychology have focused on perpetrator talk and text, perpetrator personality and cognition, and in-group psychology. Research examining targets' perspectives and responses to racism and race theory is rare.
The current study redresses a little of this imbalance by exploring the accounts of indigenous Maori of Aotearoa New Zealand and their partners. The researcher, a Pakeha (B.A. Maori Studies), used long standing Maori contacts to establish trust, and also sought approval from a Maori Cultural advisor, the Massey University Human Ethics Committee, and a local marae (Takapuwahia) before beginning the project. Interviews were conducted with 24 participants aged 30-74, 19 of whom were Maori (10 women, 9 men) and five of whom were Pakeha women partners. Participants were asked three open ended questions.
Had they had experiences of racism, and if so, could they describe them? Why did they think the racism occurred? Was there a solution? The epistemology chosen to underpin the analyses was social constructionism, which allowed the inclusion of political and social contexts and power issues, and also acknowledged the power of language to not merely reflect reality, but actively construct it. A data driven inductive approach was employed to bring to light the uniqueness of the participants' perceptions. Thematic analysis (Braun &
Clarke, 2006) informed by social constructionism, was used in the first paper Resisting racism, to outline three themes: difficulties in expressing resistance due to power imbalance or stereotyping, non-vocalised resistance, and vocalised resistance, which was the most stressful and successful response. In Accounting for racism, a micro-level analysis of participants' talk draws on the discourse analytic tradition of Potter and Wetherell (1987) to highlight four main discourses: Ignorance of racism and Maori people, media promotion of negative stereotypes, an innate Pakeha sense of superiority, and institutionalised racism. Thematic analysis is used again in Reducing racism to define four main themes: Structural racism with attention to the workplace and the justice system, education's role in anti-racism practices, increased interaction, and becoming inclusively 'Kiwi' while practising mutual respect. This respect contributes key insights from the targets' persective, and addresses a gap in current research which is focussed almost exclusively on perpetrator theory. In addition, this study holds significance for psychologists, educationalists, researchers and policy makers as it brings fresh understanding on racism against Maori and how to best reduce it in Aotearoa, New Zealand.