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COMPLEXITIES OF 
RACISM IN NEW 
ZEALAND 
Professor James H. Liu 
James.Liu@vuw.ac.nz
NEW ZEALAND: 
AN OPEN SOCIETY IN PRINCIPLE 
Unlike many European nations, NZ visions itself as a 
nation of migrants, whet...
100 
90 
80 
70 
60 
50 
40 
30 
20 
10 
0 
NZ Oz Sw Sp Nl Fr Lx UK Dn Fn It Pt Ir Bl Ge Aus Gr 
Countries 
Percentage Agr...
NATIONAL CHARACTER BASED ON 
LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC VALUES 
Friendly & approachable Have a ‘clean & green’ attitude 
Be friend...
MIGRANTS’ EXPERIENCES OF 
DISCRIMINATION 
45 
40 
35 
30 
25 
20 
15 
10 
5 
0 
Percent 
By region of origin – Specific Pr...
WARMTH RATINGS OF NEW ZEALAND 
EUROPEAN, MĀORI, PACIFIC AND ASIAN 
PEOPLES TOWARD ONE ANOTHER: NZ 
EUROPEANS AT THE HEART ...
WITHER BICULTURALISM?
HISTORICAL BASIS FOR BICULTURALISM 
The basis for biculturalism arises out of the status of 
Māori as tangata whenua in wh...
HOW WELL HAVE MAORI & PAKEHA/ 
EUROPEANS HONOURED THE TREATY 
OF WAITANGI? 
6 
5 
4 
3 
2 
1 
0 
Maori 
Pakeha 
Respondent...
SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS OF THIS 
RELATIONSHIP ARE WIDELY ACCEPTED 
ACCORDING TO RESEARCH USING THE 
IMPLICIT ASSOCIATIONS TEST (...
AT THE SYMBOLIC LEVEL (IAT), MAORI 
AND PAKEHA 
ARE BOTH IMPLICITLY ASSOCIATED 
WITH THE NATIONAL IDENTITY
NEW ZEALAND COAT OF ARMS: 
SYMBOLICALLY BICULTURAL
BUT IF THE NATIONAL IS SO EQUAL WHY 
IS IT THAT …. 
Maori form 16% of the total population and 50% 
of the prison populat...
SUPPORT FOR BICULTURALISM IN 
PRINCIPLE, OR SYMBOLIC INCLUSION 
OF MAORI (4.89/1-7) 
Maori language should be taught in a...
MORE SUPPORT FOR LIBERAL 
DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY & 
OPPOSITION TO RESOURCE SPECIFIC 
BICULTURALISM (5.73) 
We a...
HISTORICAL NEGATION AS A 
LEGITIMIZING MYTH 
FOR NEW ZEALAND EUROPEANS 
The Historical Negation Scale Loading 
Grievances ...
MAYBE NOT RACIST (NOT BASED ON 
INTERPERSONAL DISLIKE), BUT IT DOES 
MAINTAIN NZ EUROPEAN PRIVILEGE 
THROUGH POLICY PREFER...
WARMTH TOWARDS MAORI 
National Sample 
Negative feelings 
distributed 
unequally
CONCLUSION 
NZ is open in principle, but prejudiced in 
practice in specific situations, in places, and 
against particula...
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Complexities of Racism in New Zealand

Presentation on 'The Complexities of Racisim in New Zealand' by Professor James Liu, Co-Director of the Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/cacr

This presentation was made at the Diversity Forum at Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand on 24 August 2014: http://www.hrc.co.nz/race-relations/new-zealand-diversity-forum/

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Complexities of Racism in New Zealand

  1. 1. COMPLEXITIES OF RACISM IN NEW ZEALAND Professor James H. Liu James.Liu@vuw.ac.nz
  2. 2. NEW ZEALAND: AN OPEN SOCIETY IN PRINCIPLE Unlike many European nations, NZ visions itself as a nation of migrants, whether these are tangata whenua who arrived centuries ago, or more recent settlers. Uniquely in the world, both LIBERAL & BICULTURAL models of NZ nationhood CO-EXIST. The expression of racism in New Zealand is limited by these two ideals.
  3. 3. 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 NZ Oz Sw Sp Nl Fr Lx UK Dn Fn It Pt Ir Bl Ge Aus Gr Countries Percentage Agreement IT IS A GOOD THING FOR ANY SOCIETY TO BE MADE UP OF PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT RACES, RELIGIONS AND CULTURES
  4. 4. NATIONAL CHARACTER BASED ON LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC VALUES Friendly & approachable Have a ‘clean & green’ attitude Be friendly Be a hard worker Respect other cultures & ethnic groups Appreciate nature and the outdoors Be environmentally friendly Support a nuclear-free New Zealand Egalitarian – believe in equality Try to get ahead on own efforts Treat all people of all races equally Be innovative & creative Be tolerant of other cultures
  5. 5. MIGRANTS’ EXPERIENCES OF DISCRIMINATION 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Percent By region of origin – Specific Prejudices http://dol.govt.nz/publications/research/lisnz/
  6. 6. WARMTH RATINGS OF NEW ZEALAND EUROPEAN, MĀORI, PACIFIC AND ASIAN PEOPLES TOWARD ONE ANOTHER: NZ EUROPEANS AT THE HEART OF THE NATION
  7. 7. WITHER BICULTURALISM?
  8. 8. HISTORICAL BASIS FOR BICULTURALISM The basis for biculturalism arises out of the status of Māori as tangata whenua in what is widely regarded as the foundational document of NZ sovereignty, the Treaty of Waitangi. This contractual relationship between Māori and the Crown has evolved over time, but includes provisions for kawanatanga, rangatiratanga, equality for all citizens, reasonable cooperation between Crown and iwi, and redress of past injustices. These principles are specific to NZ (whereas liberalism is in theory universal).
  9. 9. HOW WELL HAVE MAORI & PAKEHA/ EUROPEANS HONOURED THE TREATY OF WAITANGI? 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Maori Pakeha Respondent Ethnicity Mean Rating Maori Honour Pakeha Honour 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Maori Pakeha Respondent Ethnicity Mean Rating Maori Honour Pakeha Honour Student Sample General Sample
  10. 10. SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS OF THIS RELATIONSHIP ARE WIDELY ACCEPTED ACCORDING TO RESEARCH USING THE IMPLICIT ASSOCIATIONS TEST (IAT)
  11. 11. AT THE SYMBOLIC LEVEL (IAT), MAORI AND PAKEHA ARE BOTH IMPLICITLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE NATIONAL IDENTITY
  12. 12. NEW ZEALAND COAT OF ARMS: SYMBOLICALLY BICULTURAL
  13. 13. BUT IF THE NATIONAL IS SO EQUAL WHY IS IT THAT …. Maori form 16% of the total population and 50% of the prison population? Maori die 8 years younger than everyone else? Many Maori attend high schools where no one is going to university? Maori earn 16% less income than the rest?
  14. 14. SUPPORT FOR BICULTURALISM IN PRINCIPLE, OR SYMBOLIC INCLUSION OF MAORI (4.89/1-7) Maori language should be taught in all NZ schools The NZ national anthem should be sung in both Maori and English. NZ should be known and seen as a bicultural society, reflecting an equal partnership between Maori and Pakeha. If NZ were to change to a republic, then the Treaty of Waitangi should be used as a foundation for our constitution. NZ should embrace it’s cultural diversity.
  15. 15. MORE SUPPORT FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY & OPPOSITION TO RESOURCE SPECIFIC BICULTURALISM (5.73) We are all New Zealanders, and no one ethnic group should get special privileges. It is racist to give one ethnic group special privileges, even if they are a minority I feel that although Maori have had it rough in past years, they should still be treated the same as everyone else. No one group should be given privileges on the basis of ethnic or racial background I find the idea of giving priority or special privileges to one group appalling, minority or otherwise
  16. 16. HISTORICAL NEGATION AS A LEGITIMIZING MYTH FOR NEW ZEALAND EUROPEANS The Historical Negation Scale Loading Grievances for past injustices should be recognized and due compensation offered to the descendants of those who suffered from such injustices. (r) .86 New Zealand law needs to recognize that certain ethnic minorities have been treated unfairly in the past. People belonging to those groups should be entitled to certain benefits and compensation. (r) .84 I believe that I should take part in the efforts to help repair the damage to others caused by earlier generations of people from my ethnic group. (r) .83 We as a nation have a responsibility that see that due settlement is offered to Maori in compensation for past injustices. (r) .82 We should not have to pay for the mistakes of our ancestors. .81 We should all move on as one nation and forget about past differences and .79 conflicts between ethnic groups. It is true that many things happened to Maori people in the past that should not have happened, but it is unfair to hold current generations of Pakeha/NZ Europeans accountable for things that happened so long ago. .78 People who weren't around in previous centuries should not feel accountable for the actions of their ancestors. .69 (r) = Item is reverse scored.
  17. 17. MAYBE NOT RACIST (NOT BASED ON INTERPERSONAL DISLIKE), BUT IT DOES MAINTAIN NZ EUROPEAN PRIVILEGE THROUGH POLICY PREFERENCES & INSTITUTIONAL NORMS FAVOURING THE MAJORITY
  18. 18. WARMTH TOWARDS MAORI National Sample Negative feelings distributed unequally
  19. 19. CONCLUSION NZ is open in principle, but prejudiced in practice in specific situations, in places, and against particular types of people. NZ national identity is constructed from both Liberal Democratic and Bicultural Principles. The future trajectory of the nation will have to draw from these two principles together, to reduce prejudice and discrimination across the different parts of the nation.

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