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Inclusive Biculturalism Terms

by Elizabeth Rata


Useful Terms

A full account of inclusive and exclusive biculturalism in relation to the nation and to iwi is available in the paper on my website titled ‘Inclusive Biculturalism, Exclusive Biculturalism and the Nation’.

Inclusive biculturalism

This term includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Māori culture (including language) is valued by all because it is unique to this land.
  • Settler-descendant culture is valued by all because it is unique to this land.
  • All cultural practices, both Māori and non-Māori, are accommodated in the public sphere if consistent with the principles of liberal democracy. Eg. tolerance, secularism, gender equality.
  • ‘Race’ and ‘culture’ are separated. This requires differentiating between ethnicity/race/generic heritage/whakapapa on the one hand and cultural identity on the other. The distinction allows individuals to identity with a culture even if they don’t have ethnic/race descent from the group which practised the culture. (In exclusive biculturalism, ‘race’ and ‘culture’ are not separated.)

Bicultural society

This term refers to the recognition of Māori and non-Māori culture in civil society. It doesn’t refer to the actual ethnicity/race of people but to historical beliefs and practices which are valued today. The reason for their combined value is that represent a unified New Zealand. For example, the Maori strand would include the Maori language, traditional rituals such as tangi, and so on. The non-Māori strand would include the egalitarian ideals of colonial society, non-familial friendship, love of the outdoor leisure pursuits and so on. Many practices are valued in both cultures, e.g. family-centric, elder respect.

The non-politicised symbols of New Zealand’s biculturalism society would be the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi and the 1852 Constitution Act. Both would be celebrated as founding historical documents whose purpose is to unite all New Zealanders by evoking a history that can be shared.

Pluralist population

This term refers to the fact that the population consists of individuals from plural ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  Some choose to maintain their heritage culture while others don’t.

Liberal-democratic state/government

This term refers to New Zealand’s Westminster style of democratic government. It is based on the principle of the free universal human being.

Elizabeth Rata

8th July 2021

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