What does it mean to live in New Zealand? Many of us think of New Zealanders as rural people wearing black singlets and gumboots, but who does that exclude?
Research at Victoria University of Wellington looks at how we use our culture, history and stories to tell us about us.
For example, most of us live in large cities, yet we like the idea that we’re actually a rural people with a small-town she’ll-be-right provincial culture. That’s a version of ourselves that we’ve always enjoyed poking fun at, like Fred Dagg—isn’t that right, Trev?
And how about those defining words that are uniquely ours? Like ‘Pākehā’. In essence, it describes the relationship between two peoples. But as New Zealand becomes more diverse, is the word ‘Pākehā’ less, or more, relevant to us?
Why is it so important to explore questions and ideas like these? Because it’s important to think about what it means to be a New Zealander, to know ourselves and know our place in the world.
Why we need to understand our own society
“If you don’t understand what lies behind things evident in your society, then you can’t be confident about who you are. You have to have a long view of your nation, your society and your culture,” says Professor Wevers.