The Negotiation of Takapuneke: A study of Maori-State relations and the investment of value in tapu lands
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis focuses on the contested nature of landscape in New Zealand and on the complex relationships and social processes that are associated with that contest. This includes relationships between people as well as relationships between people and land. A landscape may be seen as a culmination of lived daily experience that acts as a repository for our memories of events and experiences to which we are connected. As we remember or forget our experiences or events, we construct narratives relating how we are tied to our landscape and what that may mean. This becomes a compounded process as more than one group adds different stories that are vying to be told. Even though New Zealand is a post-colonial nation, neither the groups involved, nor their stories can be divided between primordial categories like colonial or Indigenous. Following this, the anthropology of the State informs us that the State is not a unified organization, but rather is imagined as such through our daily experience with individual institutions that are associated with it. Therefore, the struggle here, I will argue, is between multiple agents that are attempting to position themselves in relation to each other and their shared, multilayered landscape. According to Bourdieu (1998), the lesser goal of this struggle is to maintain or gain social position in relation to the other groups; the greater goal is the ability to reproduce the landscape according to their own interests. In order to do so, groups agree to the value of resources, which Bourdieu calls capital, and then struggle for the ability to control them or direct their use. This thesis aims to explain how those groups move toward those goals. More specifically, I address these issues through my fieldwork with Maori from Onuku on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand and three non-Maori organizations that are involved with the site. My interviews and observations with participants focused on the site of Takapuneke, which was the location of a massacre of the Onuku communityʼs relations in 1830. This site was chosen because of an initial threat of development that would have destroyed its inherent meaning to the local Maori community. My fieldwork will analyze that data to understand the Onuku Runangaʼs (council) construction of Takapuneke as tapu, which is often taken to mean ʻsacredʼ. My analysis will also show the constructions of the site as strictly historical by the non-Maori organizations and the perceptions behind those constructions. I find that the outcome of these complex relationships over the site of Takapuneke is that there is no determined result to the struggle that has been and continues to take place over the issues around the site. These issues are in process just as are the constructions of the landscape and the relationships between all of those involved. While there has been a stabilization of the situation, which I will discuss, that is merely temporary due to the fact that the groups involved have varying amounts of agency (and capital) that they can exercise in order to continue the struggle when the conditions benefit them.