Biculturalism in New Zealand Parliament: a corpus-based approach
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
New Zealand is a bicultural country, with, some say, an obligation to recognise the language of the indigenous peoples, te reo Māori. Politicians, as representatives of the people and the country, are individuals who arguably should be facilitating bicultural understanding, competence and confidence. An important part of this facilitation is for politicians to use te reo Māori in their day to day business. This thesis presents a corpus informed analysis of the use of te reo Māori words in New Zealand Parliament. Specifically, I examine the labels used in reference to the country (e.g., New Zealand, Aotearoa, Aotearoa New Zealand) and its people (e.g., New Zealand Europeans, Māori, New Zealanders, Kiwis). Using the New Zealand Parliamentary Language Corpus (NZPLC; Ford, 2018), I examine the frequency of use of these labels, including changes over time, and consider whether different political parties and different individual politicians exhibit differences in their use of these terms. Results show that New Zealand was most frequently used to name the country, as expected, but also that of the two main parties, Labour used Aotearoa when referring to the country more frequently than National. On the other hand, politicians who identified as Māori were not more likely to use terms such as Aotearoa over New Zealand. The most common label for citizens was New Zealander, which collocated with words such as ‘all’, indicating an attempt at inclusiveness. The most-used bicultural variant for the majority ethnic populace was Pākehā, which was primarily used to signal a comparison with Māori. New Zealand European was used only in reference to other ethnicities, such as Māori and Pasifika. These findings are discussed in terms of the extent to which biculturalism is displayed through language in New Zealand Parliament, and some further reflections are made on the relationship between language and culture in Aotearoa New Zealand.