In a recent article on the political and economic crisis in New Zealand, Bob Jesson has argued that the Labour governments of the 1980s were crippled by a contradiction between new right economics and liberal social policy. A similar, and indeed related, contradiction bears upon indigenous peoples -not just in Aotearoa but also in other white settler societies such as Australia, Canada, and Hawaii. On one side, indigenous cultures are widely legitimized and celebrated in liberal and consumer culture, but in an idealized form that maps uneasily onto the urbanized and apparently 'acculturated' way of life of most Maori. On the other hand, Maori have suffered disproportionately during the recession and are now unemployed in record numbers; the restructuring of the labour market is likely either to exclude substantial numbers in the longer term, or restrict most to new fonns of underpaid casual work; their standard of living, like that of the poor in general, is most directly affected by cutbacks in health, welfare, and education. This article does not describe the social predicament, but is concerned rather with how indigenous cultural producers negotiate the gap between accounts of their identity that emphasize some archaic authenticity, and contemporary circumstances.
Thomas, Nicholas, Gender and the Politics of Tradition: Alan Duff's Once were warriors, Kunapipi, 15(2), 1993.