Contesting New Zealand's Past: Postmemory, Transgenerational Trauma and the Implicated Subject in Māori Renaissance Literature
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This thesis investigates the ways in which literature of the Māori Renaissance functions as postmemory work, in engaging with transgenerational trauma and the implicated subject. The writing of both the Early and the Later Renaissance is concerned with not only reconstructing and remembering repressed aspects of Māori marginalisation and erased elements of Maori culture and tradition, but it also has a deeply political and critical dimension, as it confronts especially Pākehā readers with their implication in Māori marginalisation. Two case studies have been chosen for close analysis: The Matriarch by Witi Ihimaera as representative of the Early Renaissance, and Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings by Tina Makereti as representative of the Later Renaissance. I argue that there are key differences in the way this political aspect is brought out. In the Early Renaissance, the focus is on identifying Māori trauma and gaining recognition of transgenerational trauma as perpetuated by Pākehā; consequently, the tone was angry and the emphasis was on acknowledging Maori victimhood and establishing Pākehā perpetratorship in the past and the continuation of structures of inequality into the present. In the Later Renaissance, the focus is less on being angry, and more on nuancing the story and in incorporating other traumatic histories, such as that of the Moriori massacre, which complicate a simplistic narrative. Further, Later Renaissance writing meditates on navigating the complexities of this renewed narrative.