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Keywords:

  • Indigenous rights;
  • Maori;
  • Pakeha;
  • discourse analysis;
  • discrimination;
  • racism;
  • biculturalism

Abstract

Three public submissions are discursively analysed to understand how history, identity and equality are used to legitimise positions on indigenous rights claims over the foreshore and seabed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The first submission illustrates the Standard Story of ethnic relations, whereby the ethnic majority is unmarked, colonisation is construed as unrelated to the present, and a tolerant, unified nation is constructed to exclude ‘divisive’ indigenous rights. In contrast, the second submission legitimises the claims by flagging the position of the ethnic majority, construing colonisation as an ongoing process that continues to favour Pakeha (white) New Zealanders over Maori. The third submission works up the similarity between indigenous rights and general property rights, negotiating the relationship between equal treatment and self-determination to legitimise the claims. We argue that discursive research on discrimination should approach texts as contributions to a dialectics of racism and anti-racism. This is useful for gaining a better understanding of oppressive discourses, and developing arguments that actively challenge discrimination. The Treaty of Waitangi provides Pakeha New Zealanders with discursive resources for constructing the subject position of a ‘partnership’ with Maori that legitimises the positions of both groups within a shared national identity. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.