Indigenous language in New Zealand—the challenges facing publishing in Māori

Anton Blank


Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand and are located very centrally in the nation’s cultural landscape. The Treaty of Waitangi, signed by Māori and the British Crown in 1840, protects the self-determination of Māori tribes, which includes protection of their language and cultural traditions. In actuality, none of these things happened, and since 1975 Māori tribes have been negotiating financial settlements to address the state’s historical wrong-doings. Post-colonial themes are therefore very present in Māori writing and the broader New Zealand canon.

Māori have been producing literature since the 1950s. The first wave of writers, though small in number, were the first Māori to graduate from university. Some were dextrous in English and te reo Māori, including Arapera (Kaa) Blank. A poet, essayist and short story writer, Blank was the first Māori to win a prestigious Katherine Mansfield award in 1958. The essay that attracted the prize explored how Māori were being subsumed by capitalism as they transitioned from country to city living.[…]

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March/April2018 (issue no.378)

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