A Position Paper on Biculturalism in New Zealand.
Biculturalism is of prime importance to help maintain the minority culture, but unfortunately in today’s New Zealand society it appears to be an illusion. The structure of society would have to change dramatically for biculturalism to become a viable aspect however I believe the groundwork exists to influence that change.
In the Comprehensive Dictionary Encyclopaedic edition (1995) biculturalism is defined as: “the policy of union between two separate cultures within one nation.” Therefore biculturalism in New Zealand suggests a partnership between Maori and Pakeha and should be an equitable relationship between them. However the hegemonic situation which exists in New Zealand today does not seem to provide the unity for the two cultures to have an equal partnership. Another aspect of today’s society which also contributes to whether biculturalism can successfully exist is the immigration trend in recent years which has created a very multicultural society.
In order to critically examine the issue of biculturalism I think it is essential to explore the history of New Zealand and see where biculturalism fits in and how it has been affected over time. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British and the Maori purporting the idea of two peoples, one nation. As the tangata whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori understood the Treaty to mean that they would have a part in the governing of New Zealand along with the colonisers, the Pakeha. It meant a parallel existence where there would be respect for each others heritage and culture.
However reality has proved different. Since the signing of the Treaty the Pakeha have dominated politically, socially and economically while the Maori have been marginalised. (Bishop & Glynn, 1998). This does not appear to be a working example of biculturalism but rather a classic case of oppression and hegemony where the European culture has been...