EESE 4/2002

"If I raise my voice ... /
then I will be considered another emotional native":
Roma Potiki's embracing the other
from a modernnewzealandmaoriwoman's perspective.

Claudia Duppé (Freiburg)

The New Zealand Book Council


Roma Potiki is one of few contemporary Maori women poets writing in English. Apart from publishing poetry, she worked primarily in theatre as a performer, playwright, and manager and has shaped New Zealand theatre, in particular Maori theatre, perceptively. She is a prominent commentator on Maori theatre. In 1996, her play Going Home, won international acclaim being performed in Sydney. Potiki's latest play Sanctuary has just finished a national New Zealand tour. Her most recent poetry collections are Shaking the Tree (1998) and Oriori (1999). In her daily occupation she works as a concept developer at Te Papa/ Our Place, the national museum of New Zealand in Wellington.

Potiki's poem "Stolen Dreams", which I will use as an introduction to my argument, speaks about being pushed to the margins because of being different from the ruling perception, of being the other. It implies the assignation of categories like woman or Maori, both categories that indicate a certain degree of marginalisation. In this paper, I will discuss whether she writes against a marginalisation that culminates in the final category of a modernnewzealandmaoriwoman, or whether she attempts to transcend the boundaries of this otherness and its bicultural foundation. First, I will briefly introduce Roma Potiki with her poem "Stolen Dreams" in order to illustrate my approach to Potiki's embrace of the other. Then, I will present some poems from her first volume Stones in Her Mouth (1992), focusing on Potiki's political agenda. In a third part, I will have a closer look at her collection Shaking the Tree (1998). This volume fans out a new variety of styles, tones and issues in Roma Potiki's poetry.

In "Stolen Dreams", we can detect much anger and sarcasm but the poem - and in effect the entire volume Shaking the Tree - presents more than 'anti establishment phrases', a criticism that had been cast on her first collection.1 The poem presents a Maori point of view which is directed against being stereotyped as the other by the ruling Pakeha.2

 But today
people are very polite
they only kill you with words
or paper
I have to be very good
and you will have to be 'nice as pie' too.

If I raise my voice (God forbid a fist!)
then I will be considered another emotional native,
out of control, not rational.
A woman without facts
is a very vulnerable woman indeed
in this place, these times.
               ("Stolen Dreams", 8-22)

The poem speaks from a Maori perspective against those who have constructed images of Maori ever since colonial times. In this context, it is important to note that the Maori did not start to perceive themselves as Maori until the arrival of the Pakeha. Maori means 'normal' in Maori language. The term 'maori' signalled difference and established a sense of otherness in the relationship between the indigenous people and British settlers (Walker, 35). In the poem, Maori are no longer included in the process of definition. They are defined as the other and thence spoken for. Looking at the poem from a socio-cultural perspective, the poetic voice represents the intellectual who speaks for the underprivileged, thus defining them according to his/her particular system of values (Johnston 1998). Potiki strongly resists being defined as the other and yet she provides a definitive sense of the other's - the Maori - voice. From such a point of view, Potiki's poem discloses the same tendency of speaking for others - of providing definitions the poem attempts to criticise. She balances on the bi-cultural tightrope rejecting and accepting images of the other as it suits her argument.

1. Stones in Her Mouth

In Stones in Her Mouth, her first collection of poetry published in 1992, Potiki addresses issues of being Maori in a Pakeha world.3 She is in particular concerned with the silence of Maori in public and their reticent attitude in speaking up for themselves. In this volume, Potiki sharply criticises a system that is dominated by Pakeha concepts. In using poetry as the vehicle for a political message, Potiki's first poems display a heavier weight on the political than the lyrical. In their anti-establishment agenda, they depend essentially on the rhetoric of an ironic or dogmatic spoken voice. So, it is not surprising that Potiki's poems were labelled as an expression of political anger.4 However, her poems about love and the observations of nature and the human spirit display a more multi-layered use of metaphor and myth. The three poems "Papatuanuku", "Kina", and "Flood me" reappear in Shaking the Tree, published in 1998, which underlines Potiki's intention of turning away from the predominantly political agenda.

Stones in Her Mouth is a volume of poetry that stands out in modern New Zealand poetry. It is a volume of poetry that speaks up for Maori concerns in an unconcealed and courageously open manner. Generally speaking, Potiki writes against being abused by (Pakeha) men - physically and verbally - against being pictured as the incomprehensible other. This can largely be put against the background of the fierce discussion of the significance of Maori in New Zealand society. However, Potiki does not provide a self-assertive positive image of what it can mean to be Maori in a modern New Zealand and she does not transcend the boundaries of otherness established by binary opposition.

In 1987, New Zealand government passed the Maori Language Act which elevated Maori language to the second official language of New Zealand.5 From then on, Maori was accepted as an official language in court and most public signs started to become bilingual. The issue of language dominated the public discussion, and it is language that is often at the centre of Potiki's attention. Most poems are concerned with reaching an audience and letting the hitherto silenced be heard. So, Potiki finds herself caught in the web of otherness; she wants her poems to speak up for others and finds herself in the same position as Pakeha intellectuals and politicians who define Maori in the bi-cultural frame. She writes against being written into a system she does not agree with, a system that, in her eyes, is very rigid and leaves no space for identities other than the validated and 'legalised'. Eventually, she turns the very system she criticises around to present the other as the protagonist. So, she simply changes places.

The poem "i try to imagine" presents the power and significance of the written document, the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti O Waitangi, which has shaped Maori status and rights over the last 150 years:

 is it a piece of paper floating above us
or a cloud
this mist that infuses
this cloak that settles.
this set of words
that moves amongst us
whispering, whispering as forceful as patu.6

it is none of these and all of them
Te Tiriti O Waitangi -
still to be upheld
by those who say it is, but is not, legal
those who re-define even their own words
to suit their chosen moments.
               ("i try to imagine", 1-13)

In interpreting, I would like to use the following comments by Radhika Mohanram7 upon the racialisation of the relationship between Maori and Pakeha through the Treaty as a signpost to where my argumentation is leading. Mohanram says:

In their bicultural relationship with Maori, Pakeha are transformed into democratic, liberal, generous, culturally sensitive citizens. But left unsaid is how the term bicultural functions for Maori. The concept of equitable power-sharing, so desirable for both Maori and Pakeha, is ultimately revealed to be something that can be initiated only by Pakeha, because it is Pakeha who control the resources. Pakeha have, Maori have not; Pakeha give, Maori receive. [...] Although the discourse of biculturalism seems to recognise first people status, it also skews the primacy of Maori claims. Bicultural discourse might suggest that Maori and Pakeha coexist as subjects with equivalent properties, but one group is more equal than the other. (Mohanram, 26)

Potiki plays with the imagery of Maori and Pakeha traditions in her poetry and discloses the cultural gap. Maori people define themselves through their ancestry and mythology. Their tradition is an oral one, whereas the Pakeha tradition is a written one. Potiki uses the image of the mist and the cloud, the mist that infuses the cloak or the cloud that presides over the entire scene in order to show Maori mythological authority which is not acknowledged as identity or authority in Pakeha perception. The Pakeha world is allegedly more sophisticated, an illusion Potiki discloses through their constant re-definition of the document, so that in the end the treaty loses credibility and magnificence. It shows how differently the two groups view tradition and culture. In "i try to imagine", the cloud puts authority and power of both groups on the same level in corresponding to the paper of the Pakeha and the cloak of the Maori at the same time. Potiki's focus on the word 'legal' put the document and the Pakeha acknowledgement of its authority in question. The constant redefinition of the treaty "to suit [...] chosen moments" (13) underlines the instability of this legal base. It is equality and in fact the 'legal act' that is ridiculed in this poem. The battleground Potiki describes is no longer physically manifested as in the landwars8 but turns into a matter of language. The words of the treaty are renegotiated in many legal battles to regain land-rights for Maori. It is thus a significant document on both sides. The idiomatic crossover in the title of Potiki's collection, underlines the enmeshing of battle (stones) and language (mouth). The attempt to mould Maori and Pakeha together in order to provide a unified sense of identity was the primary concern of cultural politics within New Zealand (Walker, 42). Unfortunately, the country was still perceived in a bicultural framework "in which one group is more equal than the other" (Mohanram, 26). This biculturalism provides the basic prerequisite from which most criticism starts unto the present day.9 Many of Potiki's poems in Stones in Her Mouth evolve around this debate and the conflicting ideas of belonging and defining oneself. She questions the Pakeha definition of New Zealand very openly and puts a big question mark to a unified vision of what New Zealand/ Aotearoa10 might become. In fact, Potiki seems afraid to let the dualism Maori/ Pakeha slip for a unified vision since it threatens to drown the Maori perspective.

In some of her poems like "white boys" or "change is necessary", she employs very simple rhetoric so that those poems read like a public speech rather than a poetry. "Change is necessary" seems to allude to the Sesquicentennial celebrations of New Zealand in 1990.

 In 1990 what will change?

will the commission cause the change...
will education really change
will the law change anything
will broadcasting change our minds
will the army change its manoeuvres in the Pacific
will the government change
would it matter
               ("change is necessary", 8-15)

Poetically speaking, these are basic tropes to get a message across but the skilful use of repetition reveals the irony in the words.

In "compulsory class visits", Potiki addresses the same bicultural conflict but her observation is more subtle and the message more manifold. She points at what critics like Bernadette Hall and Iris Young call 'tokenism' in post-colonial discourse. Shared education and the elevated status of the Maori language are the tokens that set up the illusion of equality between Pakeha and Maori. Ranginui Walker talks of an "ideology of unity and one-ness of Maori and Pakeha [that] was used to deny the otherness of the Maori thereby denying their humanity as well" (Walker, 42). "Compulsory Class Visits" criticises that the Pakeha have designated space for the Maori to 'be Maori on', thus limiting their space to a subordinate and less valuable place.

 Compulsory Class Visits

they come in classes now
many pakeha ones too
and even the maori start to call themselves
new Zealanders.
and even the maori stand on the marae11 saying 'this is the only place
you can be maori on'.
it is not enough for me.
the young are in constant challenge with the middle-aged,
the men who take their teeth out.

at the powhiri12 they are directed to sing
there is no kaea13 there is no ihi.14
holding their papers, they look at the words -

The marae in this poem is the symbol for Maori space. This space can either be found on 464 marae reserves (Walker, 46; italics mine) all over the country or in a new form in urban environments. The Maori voice in the poem protests against being limited to such leftover space. Since the colonisation, 95% of the land had been taken away from the Maori and with it their largest base of identity and spirituality. (Walker, 41-50) The poem criticises the dominance of Pakeha values on the one hand, but at the same time it laments the contentment of the Maori with the space assigned to them. Their saying "this is the only place/ you can be Maori on" (5/6) signals a Maori acceptance of the dominant Pakeha culture. The speaker sees that Maori have been neatly boxed and shelved and that the Maori in turn start believing in this assigned status. In so doing, they have then internalised being the 'other' and only ask to be accepted as 'normal'.15

The poem ends with the word 'Aotearoa' that is the allegedly unified vision of the new nation. Potiki interrupts the vowels by dashes which gives the impression of an unskilled reader (for instance a first year schoolchild) trying to read an unfamiliar word. The letters do not form a smooth word. In effect, Potiki presents a chain of letters in order to alienate the readers from perceiving it as a proper word and hence a proper concept. As a result, the word rings artificially hollow, by which Potiki wants to point out that the definition of a unified identity on Pakeha terms, as she sees it, does not work for Maori.

2. Shaking the Tree

In the late 1980s and early 90s, the concept of biculturalism was put more and more into question (Novitz and Willmott). The new multi-ethnic picture of the New Zealand population was a serious challenge to the bicultural Maori Pakeha foundation. The poems in Roma Potiki's Shaking the Tree (1998) still challenge stereotypes toward Maori but Potiki displays a new confidence in her second volume. Her voice has acquired a new authority which comes across in bemused and ironic detachment, for instance when she expresses a distaste for the corporate world (Johnson, 17). In this way, Potiki provides a larger platform for the identification and empathy with her poems. Paul Millar states in his review that "Shaking the Tree would be reduced if [it] was to be classified purely in separatist terms as poetry in English by Maori" (Millar, 346). Shaking the Tree also expresses Roma Potiki's concern with the image of women as the other in modern New Zealand society. However, her most prominent concern is the ethnic perspective on women as the other. In this context, I want to use Mohanram's analysis once again to underline my interpretation. In her article, she states:

The slippage from Treaty to Pakeha to whiteness reveals that biculturalism as it is now conceived is predicated not on British affiliation, but on race - whiteness and blackness that does not extend beyond the Maori. [...]
If the white body of the Pakeha can assimilate and absorb other white bodies such as Australian, American, Canadian and Western European, it stops the non-white indigenous body of the Maori from this same movement of assimilation. (Mohanram, 27)

Potiki's mock-ironic presentation of Samoan women as pieces of meat establishes a bond between the Maori-we and the Pacific islanders. Through the victim status pictured in a scene of eating and desire implying the consumption of the women, the voice in the poem assimilates Pacific-Islanders into the Maori ethnic group.

 Luscious trees and fan-wide leaves
dewy eyed
Pacific women as beautiful as
plump sirloin marinated in guava
circle our heads
and M. is so gorgeous
and S and me have to laugh
that's what women do y'know
               ("Pirates", 4-12)

The poetic voice plays with Pakeha conceptions of the other. Potiki's language establishes a closeness that is meant to embarrass a Pakeha reader thus establishing her criticism on race, gender and class at the same time. The 'dish' of plump sirloin marinated in guava points at a bourgeois middle class understanding of the relations. At the same time it is a racial conflict Potiki plays out here and not least a conflict of gender since she pictures the most marginalized group of all: Pacific island women. The poem clearly takes the Maori and Pacific Islanders' side in "Pirates" which gets clear in not acknowledging the variety of Pakeha ethnicity. The poem talks of:

 Samoa, New Zealand, England -
a shared meal of devouring hunger
and appetite still not sated.
You are so secure
even if you say that is not so.
               ("Pirates", 89-94)

The sense of being other as Maori in a modern New Zealand urban environment also shines through in "Not managing at all, really" when Potiki describes an office fight at the end of which a removed management allows another experiment

 in not managing

in not managing to understand
anything at all about us -

               ("Not managing at all, really", 21-end)

In comparison to the political poems of Stones in Her Mouth, Roma Potiki adds a tone of regret, almost pity to the poetic voice. She expresses a clear sense of belonging to the group with the pronoun 'us', even though she tries to shift her argument from an ethnic to a social perspective on relationships in the corporate world.

In "is old", she describes the fast ways of an affluent society scrutinising a soulless perception of the modern world. Modern identity is influenced by the corporate world, something that is epitomised in Bill Gates and the BIC biro company. In the poem "Mere Pounamu", Potiki tells of her cousin treaty negotiator (Mere Pounamu) who is "faster than a speeding bullet" (1). This makes the readers breathless with the speed of action in the poem. It is a poem that celebrates the woman protagonist and her success in the corporate world and yet with a detached irony, the speaker says:

 Her cellphone matches her
quick off the mark, efficient, and loud enough
to be heard.
               ("Mere Pounamu", 13-15)

This ironic passage shows that the embrace of corporate ways for the sake of success cannot serve to find a self-assertive identity. In fact, such lines of thought break free from a bi-cultural frame and align Potiki's poems with the concerns of many people around the globe who are concerned with the disappearance of individual identities in a corporate globalised world. Potiki seeks a base that provides security and continuity in her life.

Caught in the picture of otherness, Potiki mostly rejects the attributes of being the other and yet, she escapes into Maori mythology and the natural world (Walker, 36) in order to establish her base. She traces her identity back to Papatuanuku, the earth mother in Maori mythology, who "maps the pattern of mottled life,/ rain and rivers" (Papatuanuku, 4/5). Such a last refuge has been identified as a traditional motif in the Romantic construction of indigenous identity. The noble native with his/ her affinity to the natural world is one of the ruling pictures of the other in post-colonial discourse. Thus, it is a confirmation of the image of the other, however positive. Hone Tuwhare,16 one of the most popular Maori poets, also uses the traditional Maori understanding of nature and physicality in his poems. Potiki uses old symbols of belonging and womanhood in the affirmation of the positive other. In "hers is" she uses the moon as a symbol for women.

  The moon does not have
a strategic plan

She is not owned by a corporate
her pull is not a hand
or a bank balance,
Dow Jones means nothing to her.
               ("hers is", 1-6)

In such poems, Potiki attempts to transcend the Maori point of view and provide a universal platform of empathy. The endeavour to be less political also shows in poems like "after" and "a fire burns" where she captures the thoughts after a finished love relationship. In "after", the mourning of the loss of the lover is

so raw [it] leaves one with the uncomfortable sense of having stumbled into a scene of private grief. 'After' [...] renders to perfection the bewilderment of an individual enmeshed in a personal crisis while the world - in 'a perfectly ordinary day' of 'suffering and dimpled pleasures'- maintains its inexorable, impersonal rhythms. (Millar, 343)

Such experiences are 'universal' and establish a poetic bond between Potiki and her readers. It shows that the scope of Potiki's poetry can extend beyond the issue of being the other and that Potiki's poetry can contribute to the concept of multiple identities in modern New Zealand society as suggested in 1989 by Novitz and Willmott in their introduction to Culture and Identity in New Zealand.

However, many of Potiki's poems do not attempt to transgress a boundary or venture into novel conceptions of identity. More often than not her poetry retreats to ancient symbols or Maori mythology. The physical presence of the earth, in particular Papatuanuku, the earth mother, and the connection to Maori mythology and her ancestors are at the essence of Potiki's most powerful poems. Potiki herself states that this is a legacy from the performing arts and her Maori background. She says:

To be in your body, to be centred, is very important in theatre and I think that's also true of writing. [...] I suppose that in physicality in the poems, I just see that we're connected in with the natural world. [...] Maori culture and Maori people, generally speaking, tend to be much more upfront about our relation to the physical world. (Potiki in: Wood, 61)

Maori mythology is an integral part of her outlook on life. It is a crucial part of her identity. She even comes close to identifying with Papatuanuku, who represents "a figure of security and constancy" (Millar, 345). In this way, Potiki points at the connection between women and the land; thus aligning her argument with other New Zealand feminists who challenge this patriarchal line in New Zealand society. Initially, the image of the Pakeha New Zealand woman, which derived from the British ideal of the 'angel in the house' had been transported to Maori women, too so that they had been 'written out of' traditional Maori stories and fitted to the Pakeha ideology of a woman at home who is not involved in public life let alone politics.17

The poems in Shaking the Tree can be read in the context of searching for a new identity. Potiki aims at transcending the established stereotypes and the pictures of otherness. If we look at Walker's suggested 'cultural assertiveness' (Walker, 50), which he sees as the most progressive form of Maori identity, I am not sure whether Potiki would agree with him. Her poems take their strength from the comparison with the Pakeha view. It is in this dichotomy that her poetic voice is most powerful. She rejects images of Maori generated by the Pakeha and then again she uses them in affirmation of Maori authority and status, for instance when she points at the connection of the Maori to land and nature. Shaking the Tree gives the impression of a poetic voice trapped between the millstones of having to decide to be 'either/ or', instead of trying to transcend such bi-cultural theories.

In conclusion, I would like to point out the ambivalence in Potiki's poetry. She wants to break free from stereotyped images and yet she confirms them herself. In many ways her poems seem oddly anachronistic. Be it the sharp voice of anti-establishment in Stones in Her Mouth or the retreat to Maori mythology in Shaking the Tree, Potiki's poetic voice does not break with the conventions of otherness. However, she has a strong voice and the undisguised and oral character of her poems comprise the strength of her work. The critical positions she assumes are manifold and strong and she does not write solely from a modernewzealandmaoriwoman's perspective. However, Potiki's main focus seems still to be her political Maori agenda, which is writing (in) the communal consciousness of Maori protest. Her voice has become more versatile, but Roma Potiki still writes in the perception of a bicultural New Zealand. I feel that this limits her poetry to taking sides which is more apt to underpin boundaries than to undermine or transcend them.


Johnson, Miranda. "Yielding to the Surges". New Zealand Books, October 1998, 17.

Johnston, Patricia Maringi G. "Maori Women and the Politics of Theorising Difference." Eds. R. Du Plessis and L. Alice. Feminist Thought in Aotearoa New Zealand (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1998), 29-36.

Millar, Paul. 'Review of Shaking the Tree'. Landfall 196, Spring 1998, 342-47.

Mohanram, Radhika. "(In)visible Bodies? Immigrant bodies and the construction of nationhood in Aotearoa/ New Zealand". Feminist Thought in Aotearoa New Zealand, 21-28.

Potiki, Roma. Shaking the Tree. Wellington: Steele Roberts Ltd, 1998.

Potiki, Roma. Stones in Her Mouth. Auckland: IWA Associates, 1992.

Walker, Ranginui. "Maori Identity." Eds. Novitz, David and Bill Willmott. Culture and Identity in New Zealand (Wellington: GP Books, 1989), 35-52.

Wood, Briar. '"I need no definition"'. Hecate 21 (1), May 1995, 58-63.


Roma Potiki Websites:

The University of Auckland Library

The New Zealand Book Council


1 See reviews of Stones in Her Mouth: Guy Allan, NZ Herald 2:6 (18 July 1992). Robert Sullivan, Dominion Sunday Times 26 July 1992, p. 20. Aroha Harris, Evening Post 14 Aug 1992, p. 5. John Fowler, New & Notable 9(4) (Sept 1992), p. 23-26. Tom Weston, The Press sup, 1 May 1993, p. 10.

2 The term 'Pakeha' was assigned to the white British settlers by the Maori. It simply means 'non-Maori', whereas Maori means 'normal'. Ethnicity has been a crucial component of Maori and Pakeha identity ever since (Walker, 39). In fact, Maori and Pakeha have become social, cultural and racial categories. However, other than the term 'Maori', Pakeha definition of ethnicity has undergone major changes and included more and more white ethnic groups over the century. Pakeha is actually a difficult term to deal with since it is a Maori term meaning non-Maori, so that it includes everyone but Maori. In terms of biculturalism, this has lead to a heavy imbalance of the representation of Maori in the face of Pakeha. (see Mohanram)
See also Michal King's discussion of Pakeha ethnicity in King, Michael. Pakeha. The Quest for Identity in New Zealand. Auckland: Penguin, 1991.

3 ibid.

4 See reviews in footnote 1.

5 For more information, see:

6 patu = weapon, beater, bat, racquet (P.M. Ryan, Dictionary of Modern Maori. Auckland: Heinemann, 1994).

7 Radhika Mohanram taught poststructuralist feminist thought and post-colonial theory in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand until 2002. She now teaches at the University of Cardiff, Wales, UK. (cf. R. Du Plessis and L. Alice. Feminist Thought in Aotearoa New Zealand, 1998.)

8 Maori and Pakeha fought heavily about the landrights in the 1830s. The result of ensuing negotiations was the Treaty of Waitangi in which the new rules of landownership were set up by Queen Victoria's representatives much to the advantage of the British crown and the disadvantage of the Maori chiefs. (A lot has been written about the Treaty. I do not want to elaborate on the many controversial points of this document here. For further information see:

9 Mohanram states that "the discourse of biculturalism permeates and underlines practically every political action and occasion in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Treaty politics underlie every aspect of an understanding of Aotearoa/New Zealand as a nation. Insofar as biculturalism constructs a particular New Zealand identity, it also constructs a particular body of the bicultural New Zealander which, in its exclusion of the Maori and the Pakeha body is biracial. But although the term 'Pakeha' in 1840 meant people of white, Anglo-Celt descent from Britain only, now, in practice, all white bodies in New Zealand generally get subsumed under the category of Pakeha. Such a cultural practice draws forth the question of how biracial is the term 'bicultural', or, rather, who benefits from the concept of bicultural?" (Mohanram, 25)

10 Aotearoa is the Maori word for New Zealand meaning 'land of the long white cloud'

11 marae = meeting area of whanau or iwi, focal point of settlement, central area of village and its buildings, courtyard (Dictionary of Modern Maori).
whanau = extended family
iwi = tribe, bone, race, people, nation, strength

12 powhiri = wave, welcome, opening ceremony, fan (Dictionary of Modern Maori).

13 kaea = haka leader, roam trumpet (Dictionary of Modern Maori).

14 ihi = power, essential force, shudder, sun's ray, hiss, tendril, split, awe, awe-inspiring, excitement (Dictionary of Modern Maori).

15 As I have mentioned earlier, 'normal' is the original meaning of 'Maori'. In this sense the term normal could be misleading here. I would like it to be understood in the context of colonial studies where 'normal' depicted the ruling groups, which in this context are not the Maori. In being defined as the other, Maori want to be accepted as 'normal', i.e. as members of the ruling group. As Johnston has said in her article: "Otherness furthers the exclusion of the oppressed group because the privileged group is portrayed as neutral and exhibiting free, spontaneous, and weighty subjectivity - in other words, it is considered 'normal'. On the other hand, subordinate groups are limited by and subsequently imprisoned within a given set of possibilities defined by the same dominant group. These positions mean that each group has its own identity and does not share attributes with each other, [...] worthwhile and valued characteristics are attributed solely to members of the dominant group." (Johnston, 30)

16 Hone Tuwhare is probably the most famous Maori poet of New Zealand. He has published since the 1960s.

17 This idea is worthy of a separate analysis which is why I do not want to go deeper into the argument here. This paper focuses on the other and the woman issue would go too far beyond this discussion.

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