The Soliloquy of Whiteness: Colonial Discourse and New Zealand's Settler Press 1839-1873
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
From 1839 to 1873 New Zealand was characterised by ideological, religious, economic cultural and social contest. This struggle to order a new society, in which colonists and indigenes were required to co-exist, is captured in the newspapers of the day. These document and attest to a contest over power; power to appropriate and control resources, power to administer, control and institutionalize the colony, and power to ascribe identities. Newspapers published during the initial period of colonization in New Zealand are saturated with instances of ideological work where discourses were deployed that supported the colonial endeavour. In this study therefore I have sought to understand and articulate those racial ideologies, racial formations, and discourses, which emerged from New Zealand’s colonial press archives. How did New Zealand’s colonial press constitute the privileges, entitlements and struggles of the white British colonist in relation to the native? What white British colonial ideologies, discursive formations and discourses can be identified in the colonial press in relation to the native? Are there any patterns or relationships between these discourses? What did these discourses look like over time? A critical discourse analytical approach has been applied to a body of texts extracted from newspapers published in New Zealand between 1839 and 1873. From this analysis three broad discursive formations have been apprehended; the discourses of sovereignty, discipline and paternalism respectively. These discourses were not independent of one another but worked to construct an interlocking network of discourse that provided sound ideological coverage. The discourse of sovereignty provided a broad platform for working out the colony’s ideological and institutional plan; discourses of discipline discursively managed native disruptions to the plan, while discourses of paternalism invested the colonial project with affectations of concern and interest in the progress of the native. Weaving through these discourses are patterns of meaning which worked to constitute white British colonial authority in economic, political, judicial, social, martial and moral affairs. These constitutive repertoires were malleable and adaptable and attached and detached themselves, according to the context, to and from the discourses of sovereignty, discipline and paternalism. Over time it appears that these discourses and the associated patterns of meaning worked responsively and flexibly, bleeding into each other, reconstituting authority and identity across different contexts. Furthermore, these discourses and patterns attest to a complex encounter with a vociferous non-white challenge, which necessitated a flexible reservoir of rhetoric to situate and position the white British colonial incursion favourably in the white settler public arena.