Effects of Individualism on Maori Culture

Donna Awatere

Disillusionment and defeatism led many Maori to accept the settlers' philosophy of individualism. They bought the line of personal fulfilment and became more concerned with their own individual achievements, not for Maori people as a whole, but for themselves and their own nuclear families.

This is the thing. Individualism means, for instance, that being a worker for money, the fruits of your labour belong to yourself alone. In the Maori way, the fruits are shared. Intermarriage was once hailed as the way to get the pale brown potato. It certainly helped. It hastened the learning of the lesson of individualism and the destruction of kin, marae, communal and tribal ties.

Broken spirits are also the long-term effect of white aggression. This itself has led to a shame of being Maori and a rejection of things Maori.

Vaughn (1972) and Hill (1972) showed that from the age of four white kids have negative stereotypes of and attitudes towards Maoris. But get this. Maori kids imitate the white attitudes. Exactly. Our kids are ashamed to be Maori. Both researchers working independently in urban and rural settings found that Maori kids claimed to be white until the ages of 9-10. (From Maori Sovereignty, 25-26).

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Last Modified: 15 March, 2002