Editor's note: Two years ago the New Zealand Herald published a timely series about how Pākehā New Zealanders could learn to acknowledge the injustice of colonisation and do something practical about it. It was called Land of the Long White Cloud and timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook's arrival in this country. Many of our audience applauded the series; a few objected. Since then we have seen a growing worldwide awareness of racial injustice, sparked by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and a re-evaluation of colonisation's legacy around the world - from statues and street names to fundamental questions about political power. Like many media organisations, the Herald has had to confront its role in this process, which has led to several changes, including a renewed commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles in our journalism and the creation of our Kāhu section for Māori content. As a result, we are pleased to relaunch an updated version of this series under its original title Beyond White Guilt. It includes an introductory commentary by two of the featured interviewees, Jen Margaret and Alex Hotere-Barnes, who reflect on how much progress Aotearoa has made.
- Murray Kirkness
Editor, New Zealand Herald
Pākehā New Zealanders need to take their colonial guilt and turn it into action, say subjects in the online video series Beyond White Guilt.
A range of Pākehā share their experiences and insights in the seven-part series, funded by NZ On Air and screening on nzherald.co.nz.
Their message is that there will be no easy absolution from the behaviour of Pākehā in the past.
WATCH THE WHOLE SERIES
• Episode 1: Cook's Legacy
• Episode 2: Recognising Racism
• Episode 3: Inheriting Privilege
• Episode 4: Pākehā Paralysis
• Episode 5: Confronting Colonialism
• Episode 6: Connecting to Aotearoa
• Episode 7: Cook Thinks Again
• Commentary: Time for Pākehā to 'stand up' against racism
Former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd sets the tone, saying: "My ancestors came here. We took over. We murdered and plundered. We set up an agreement to try and work together and ignored that, because you try to give yourself permission about the past: 'Don't blame me, I didn't take the land. I didn't stop the language. It's not my fault.' What I've done is maintain my privilege by ignoring the past."
Author Juliet Batten says, "It takes strength to go past guilt and maybe it's helpful to realise it's a self-indulgent excuse in a way. It's good to be guilty when you first find out, but to see it as a stage and not stay there, and to change from guilt to responsibility."
The series stemmed from the controversy over the Ministry of Culture and Heritage's $23 million Tuia 250 Encounters fund to commemorate Captain Cook's arrival in New Zealand.
The decision sparked outrage, particularly among Māori, given the mass bloodshed that followed Cook, and the lasting, detrimental impact on Māori.
Two-hundred and fifty years since Cook's arrival, Māori make up 51.3 per cent of the prison population, have lower life expectancy and poorer health outcomes than Pākehā, and are about half as likely as Pākehā to own their own home.
The ministry responded that the commemorations wouldn't be a blinkered celebration but would provide an opportunity to discuss the impact of colonisation for Māori and address its ongoing issues.
Beyond White Guilt explores how Pākehā New Zealanders feel about their heritage and seeks to address their feelings towards it.
Kathleen Winter, the Pākehā filmmaker behind the series, says she wanted to find ways to move the conversation forward in a productive way - turning guilt into action.
The first episode provides an overview of the six personal stories that follow. Subjects include Wellington-based Treaty of Waitangi educator Jen Margaret, who was proud of her ancestors' positive relationship with Māori, until she learned that her great-great-grandfather's land was stolen from local iwi.
Former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd looks at the local referendum on his council's Māori ward seat and the overwhelming lack of community support for it and actor Tom Clarke mulls over colonisation as he makes a theatrical walking tour of Wellington dressed as Captain Cook.
Winter's previous work also investigated social issues. Last year she created Minimum, a documentary series for RNZ that told the stories of women living on minimum wage. Winter says that when she first heard about the Tuia 250 commemorations she felt "disappointed that in 2019 we are still upholding historical myths of the 'founding' of Aotearoa by Europeans - myths that gloss over the realities of the brutality of colonisation."
Winter says she chose the subjects in the documentary because they all had the "ability to be vulnerable and honest, which is the only way to tell a good story and reflect on such a challenging subject."
She says that making a series for Pākehā by Pākehā has at times been difficult to defend but "we are purposefully being guided by the mahi and analyses of Māori, without asking them to do more work to communicate with Pākehā."
She hopes that Pākehā who view the series will "realise the impact they can make by speaking up and speaking out - especially to each other. I hope that Pākehā will push through their own anxieties around racism and join those who are taking action against colonial structures of power."
Watch all the episodes at nzherald.co.nz/beyondwhiteguilt