A new seven-part video series explores what it means to be Pākehā, 250 years after Captain Cook's arrival in New Zealand.

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 Land of the Long White Cloud.

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READ MORE:
Land of the Long White Cloud: Pākehā New Zealanders reflect on their colonial past and future. Episode 3 - Inheriting Privilege
Land of the Long White Cloud: Pākehā New Zealanders reflect on their colonial past and future. Episode 2 - Recognising Racism
Land of the Long White Cloud: Pākehā New Zealanders reflect on their colonial past and future. Episode 1- Cook's Legacy

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.

Juliet Batten, psychotherapist and author, believes Pākehā need to rediscover their spiritual connection to the land.
Juliet Batten, psychotherapist and author, believes Pākehā need to rediscover their spiritual connection to the land.

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.

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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 Land of the Long White Cloud 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/captaincook