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
Many Pākehā New Zealanders are using Māori spiritual traditions to fill a void in their own lives, says Juliet Batten, an Auckland-based author and former psychotherapist.
Batten believes that Pākehā New Zealanders suffer from a deep lack of spiritual connection to the land which makes it difficult to have a positive, reciprocal relationship with Māori.
"We can ask Māori to supply our spiritual void, our spiritual emptiness, and that's colonising again," she says in the NZ On Air-funded documentary series Beyond White Guilt.
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
Batten argues that 250 years since Cook's arrival in New Zealand, Pākehā are disconnected from their natural world because European settlers transposed the seasonal rituals of the northern hemisphere to their new homeland.
The cultural differences between Māori and Pākehā were the cause for much of the conflict when early settlers arrived.
Māori did not have a concept of exclusive land ownership but European settlers were hungry to buy exclusive plots of land on arrival, which they achieved once the Pākehā population reached critical mass.
The resulting loss of land and economic power left Māori with high rates of incarceration, poor health outcomes and lower life expectancies, higher rates of poverty, homelessness and unemployment than Pākehā.
Batten says that while Pākehā living today didn't commit the crimes of colonisation personally "we are part of the institutions and the consequences. We participate in the privilege that was gained from those actions and in the end we have to take responsibility."
She believes that the path to a more harmonious relationship between Pākehā and tangata whenua requires Pākehā to make their own spiritual connection to the land.
"If we come into a relationship feeling that we're empty and we need to be filled up, we're going to take. We're going to say to the others 'Fill me up. Give me what I haven't got.' When I find that richness in me then I'm not having to take anything from Māori, I have something to give" she says.
According to Batten, operating from a place of lack can cause Pākehā to exhibit racist behaviours and "when we're grounded in who we are, that's when we're better able to relate to those who are different from us".
Filmmaker Kathleen Winter says that she included Batten's perspective in the series "because it shifts this conversation in an important way. Though Juliet is brutal in her critique of 'white guilt', she also embraces the potential of a positive cultural identity for Pākehā through spiritual belonging. Doing the work of self-reflection and connection isn't indulgent - it's a necessary first step for those who want to change racist norms and enter true cultural exchange."
Watch all the episodes at nzherald.co.nz/beyondwhiteguilt