Pakeha poetics : a socio-historical study of pakeha landscape mythology.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Many Pakeha beliefs are embodied in the value and meanings they have ascribed to the New Zealand landscape. These mythologies of physical space have functioned to help Pakeha construct a collective identity and to make sense of their place in the world. Painting the landscape in the cultural imagination in a number of diverse ways, from Arcadia to harsh wasteland, has functioned to help justify and explain the place of Pakeha in Maori homeland: imagining New Zealand as home meant that these myths fostered a feeling of belonging. Consequently, cultural criticism has revealed the hypocritical, sentimental and destructive nature of such myths, particularly with regards to the ongoing legacy of colonialism. However, the deconstruction of myth cannot provide a foundation for future cultural criticism to engage with. The cynicism fostered by demolishing collective mythologies requires a new form of critique. This means that a return to sincere belief is called for in the post-secular moment: a form of atheistic belief in the most radically creative aspects of Pakeha landscape mythology is thus crucial to the critique of its most totalitarian and destructive ones.