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Walking the Space Between: Identity and Māori/Pākehā

What does being a New Zealander mean in contemporary times? And what does it mean to be a person of mixed Māori/Pākehā descent? How do people identify within this dual heritage? How can they establish a sense of belonging in both ethnic groups?

New Zealand today is a hybrid nation, and becoming more so. At least one in ten of us now identifies with more than one ethnic group. This book aims to provide insights and understandings about the challenges, issues, and benefits associated with being of mixed descent.

In general, Māori have been forced to become bicultural and adapt to the dominant Pākehā society, far more than Pākehā have had to become bicultural and adapt to Māori society.  The author explores the concept of opening a space between to enable ongoing interaction in which new forms of cultural meaning can be created and the limitations of existing boundaries can be blurred. This idea is liberating, in that it provides a platform for people of Māori/Pākehā descent to straddle two different and often opposing cultures, but with a sense of location within their culture of origin. Thus a dual heritage becomes a positive force which enables people to walk in all worlds with heads held high.

Melinda Webber, Te Arawa, Ngapuhi, Pākehā, works in the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland. Currently she is engaged in doctoral studies investigating the racial-ethnic identity development of adolescents in their transition to high school.