When the British first arrived in New Zealand, the lives of the Māori changed forever. Though the British promised with the Treaty of Waitangi that the Māori would be protected by the crown because they were now British citizens, this was not the case. The Māori lost more and more land to the British settlers with each passing year. Along with land theft, the Māori were subject to discrimination in all aspects of life. From schools to hotels to rugby tournaments, the Māori faced racism daily. The Māori are also at a socioeconomic disadvantage compared to the Pākehā in New Zealand (white New Zealanders). They are behind the Pākehā in education level, income and health. This paper analyzes the relationship between the Māori and their colonial government. It looks at how the Māori have fought, and continue to, fight for their rights and culture to be recognized by the government from the start of the colonization of New Zealand though today. In my first chapter, I will introduce my research question and give the important historical background. Understanding the history of the Māori is important when considering their relationship with the government of New Zealand. Part of their history is the creation narratives that explain how New Zealand was formed, who the first woman was, and how the world itself was created. Along with giving the historical background of the Māori, I give a cultural background of the Māori. I explain important Māori customs like the haka and the pōwhiri process. Giving the historical and cultural background at the start lays the important context for the rest of the chapters. In my second chapter, I write about heritage tourism and the commodification of Māori culture in New Zealand. Heritage tourism and the commodification of culture can be a complicated subject. There are aspects of heritage tourism that are beneficial to the Māori. ii When the visitors are able to get up close and personal with Māori culture, they hopefully will have more respect for the Māori and their land during their visit. They will also be able to act within the Māori’s cultural normal. This chapter argues that if it is the Māori themselves that are benefiting from heritage tourism and the commodification of Māori culture it is okay, but if it is someone else that is benefiting off the culture that is not their own, it is morally wrong. Chapter three focuses on on Māori activism. This chapter analysis the ways in which the Māori have had to fight to make sure their culture is respected and recognized in New Zealand. The history of Māori activism in New Zealand starts with the resistance to colonization when the British arrive and continues through today. I write about the different forms of activism like political activism, boycotts and marches. In chapter four, I will write about what the world should take away from New Zealand’s relationship with the Māori. By looking at Australia and the United States relationship with their Indigenous peoples, I will see what is unique about the relationship between the Māori and the government of New Zealand. Throughout the thesis, I argue that the Māori were able to get to where they are today because of cultural tourism, activism and governmental policy changes.


Sene, Ibra




Cultural History | History of the Pacific Islands | Political History


New Zealand

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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