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Becoming Pakeha

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John Bluck
November 2022
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After more than 200 years of co-existence under the umbrella of a unique treaty, you might think things would be better than ever. In this perceptive and piercing book, John Bluck argues that Pakeha and Maori worlds grow ever more separate: the Aotearoa of today is a landscape of two predominant cultures, overlaid with so many others, fractured and more likely to erupt than Ruapehu. But has it always been this way?

Becoming Pakeha follows the author's life, growing up as a Pakeha in a Maori village in the 1950s, and illustrates how New Zealand used to be, the history and shared experience that shaped it. The book also discusses the discomfort of being Pakeha today, and how Pakeha might live with their past and get used to the wearing the name, until they find a better one.

Looking at everything from failed models of bicultural harmony to what's likely to bring the treaty partners together - or push them further apart - Becoming Pakeha is a timely read for anyone who wants to understand Maori-Pakeha relations in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

'This is a book I've long been trying not to write. It ought to be easy, but it's not. I began under the cover of a pseudonym, because some of my friends who will read it won't stay friends. Then I decided not to worry about that. And besides, it has to be a personal story, as it is for many other unsettled Pakeha who relish the privilege of living here, and have spent a lifetime trying to belong in this land