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Developing a decolonisation practice for settler-colonisers: A case study from Aotearoa New Zealand


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Veracini suggests that the coloniser does not yet know ‘how settler decolonisation should appear’. I offer in response an account of how settler decolonisation has appeared in Aotearoa New Zealand and developed over the past three decades. This article reports a case study of how Pakeha and other non-indigenous groups began to contribute their own stream of decolonisation work to the efforts of indigenous Maori. A genealogy of the development of Pakeha decolonisation praxis from the 1960s to 2000 was drawn from unpublished archives and ephemera of the anti-racism and Treaty movement.

Activist educators followed a liberation theory approach to ‘co-intentional’ but different tasks in a decolonisation agenda. Learning about the Treaty of Waitangi was suggested by Maori who saw that Pakeha understanding the indigenous experience of colonisation was the conjunct to their work with their own people. Focusing on the original treaty for settlement was a way of extending Pakeha work on institutional racism into a decolonisation project. Pakeha antiracism activists developed an enduring project of ‘Treaty education’ for their own cultural group whereby small groups learned together about the Treaty guarantees and impact of subsequent colonisation, and made plans for changes in their communities and workplaces.

Pakeha decolonisation practice has developed through continual adjustments in theorising the local situation in response to Maori analysis, and through undertaking interventions co-intentionally with Maori. Specific features of a Pakeha decolonisation practice have been (i) revisiting history, (ii) responding emotionally, (iii) undertaking collective cultural work and (iv) working toward mutually agreed relationships with Maori. Framing each of these as forms of decolonisation ‘work’ - ideological, emotional, cultural and constitutional work – I suggest how a decolonisation practice for settler-colonisers could appear.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: settler decolonisation, decolonisation practices, Treaty of Waitangi, Tiriti o Waitangi, Pakeha antiracism, Treaty education, emergent decolonisation theory
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Development
Depositing User: Ingrid Huygens
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2011 03:02
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 02:33

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