Political Expression and Ethnicity: Statecraft and Mobilisation in the Maori World

Political Expression and Ethnicity: Statecraft and Mobilisation in the Maori World

Political Expression and Ethnicity: Statecraft and Mobilisation in the Maori World

Political Expression and Ethnicity: Statecraft and Mobilisation in the Maori World

Synopsis

Hazlehurst explores the political importance of ethnicity for a minority indigenous population, the Maori of New Zealand. Drawing on close ethnographical observation and extensive interviews with key participants, Kayleen Hazlehurst provides a comprehensive narrative and analysis of the creation of the Mana Motuhake party and its formative electoral experiences. Hazlehurst places the emergence of the party in the early 1980s in the context of historical patterns of resistance and cooperation with the European majority. Modern political networks, leadership styles, mobilization strategies, ideologies, political rhetoric and symbology are examined. The study provides an overview of the contested nature of Maori ethnicity and of conflicting modern and traditional loyalties.

Excerpt

Early Maori social organisation embraced the individual within an expanding trellis of rights and obligations from the primary family to the tribe. Social order and relationships were regulated within five main dimensions of 'belonging'. the whanau (family), the smallest social and economic unit, represented the primary household which sometimes extended beyond the biological family to include a patriarch, his wife, their single children and sometimes married children, and their families with the exception of affines. Today the whanau is the term used idiomatically in reference to the Maori 'family'. Immediate kinsmen (cognatic/affinial), or members of a whole community may refer to each other as 'whanau'. This latter usage usually signifies an affirmation of ideological solidarity and a shared collective identity.

In traditional society, whanau units which could trace blood ties to common ancestors, and which co-operated in the common use of land and defence, formed a hapu or sub-tribe. the hapu was a territorially and consanguinally defined corporate group, under the authority of a senior patriarch or chief. When a hapu grew too large the unit would divide. the new hapu would relocate to a neighbouring area.

A tribe, or iwi, consisted of several hapu villages which still recognised common ancestry through a founding ancestor, whether or not the actual links remained within genealogical memory. the tribe was the pre-eminent corporate body based upon the right to share a bounded territory and a mutual obligation to defend it. Members of the tribe attempted to trace their descent cognatically, to a common apexal ancestor even when connections with this person were vague. Establishing family or tribal connections with others, either through blood or by marriage, still plays an important part in Maori social relations and political strategy. Claims for co-operation by tribal federation (waka) were occasionally made, on the basis of a belief that the tribes concerned all had descended from ancestors of a common canoe in the days of the first great migrations across the . . .

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