Academic journal article Journalism History

Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maori, 1855-1863

Academic journal article Journalism History

Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maori, 1855-1863

Article excerpt

Paterson, Lachy. Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maori, 1855-1863. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press, 2006. 252 pp. $39.95.

In Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Maroi, 1855-1863, Lachy Paterson uses the reappearance and subsequent demise of a government newspaper, Te Karere Maori, to frame his analysis of nine Maori-language newspapers in New Zealand during this period. His overarching goal is to more fully explore the role of the media among the Maori during British colonial rule, and in addition, he hopes to give voice to a wider segment of Maori society than has been provided before

The book postulates three main ideas: each of these papers were propaganda tools used to elicit social and behavioral change among the Maori; all of the European-run newspapers, irrespective of their origins, promoted a common hegemonic discourse; and newspapers are not only references to past historical events but sometimes significant social agents within the societies in which they publish.

Colonial Discourses is derived from a thesis presented to the University of Otago. It is written in an approachable manner that takes the reader through the development of diemes, presents the contextual information, and provides an in-depth discussion of each theme. The bibliography provides a range of primary and secondary sources and suggests a strong foundational understanding of the material being presented and its role within the wider historical context.

Paterson's argument that newspapers of the era were propaganda tools and that these papers worked in a synergistic fashion to support the process of colonization seems well supported by his findings. However, while I believe that newspapers can be social agents within society, I do not find compelling support for this position within his text. From the material presented, it appears that government and political elites in New Zealand used newspapers as a public means of communicating with each other, and the extent to which the publications changed Maori thought and behavior remains unknown.

Paterson also stresses the fact that newspapers gave voice to divergent voices within the Maori community of the period. …

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