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July 17, 2017 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editors’ Letter

Welcome back (though the break went so quickly it hasn’t really felt like a break at all)!

Something that’s as obvious as it is complicated is that there is no one “New Zealand” identity or experience. We don’t have the same origin stories, and we arrived to these shores at different points in history.

Obvious as it may be, the idea of being a “New Zealander”, of being a “Kiwi”, has, in recent history, presumed a story — a colonial story, a Pākehā story, of a people who came here and imposed themselves on a land and excluded the diverse stories of tangata whenua.

The primacy of the Pākehā story today is felt in conversations around migration, as Elaine reflects on regarding New Zealand’s receptiveness to English migrants: “for whatever reason — either they’re white, or they’re skilled, or we feel some sort of colonial connection to them — we don’t associate them with stealing jobs or failing to assimilate.”

The Polynesian Panthers were critical of this idea in the 1970s. When the majority of those with expired visas were from western countries, it was those from the Pacific who were labelled as “overstayers” and targeted for immediate deportation. As the visible other, the narrative of their “not being from here” is easy to fashion and spread.

As an alternative way of understanding the movement across borders and seas, Kahu contemplates on the notion of manaakitanga — reciprocal respect and care, that is hospitable and mindful during the exchange of knowledge and the sharing of space. This requires a reimagining of land masses and borders: “No longer do the oceans separate us; they connect us. Not a barrier, but a mechanism to reach other corners of land, resource, and life.”

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