Shakespeare as Transcultural Narrative: Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti - The Maori Merchant of Venice

Thesis (M.A.), 2006

176 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction
1.1. General Assumptions
1.2. Objectives
1.3. Outline
1.4. Definitions

2. Shakespeare in New Zealand
2.1. Shakespeare as Colonial ‘Mimicry’
2.2. Towards a National Theatre
2.3. Shakespeare Becoming a ‘Kiwi’
2.4. Shakespeare and Māori Theatre

3. Māori Cultural Identity – A Transcultural Identity?
3.1. ‘Being a Maori is’
3.2. Transculturality
3.3. Transcultural Māori Identity

4. Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti – A Far-Reaching Film Project
4.1. The ‘Man who colonised Shakespeare’
4.2. A Maori Film with Concrete Purpose
4.3. National and International Reviews

5. Detailed Film Analysis
5.1. From Playscript to Screenplay
5.2. Exposition/ Sequence
5.3. Act I/ Sequence
5.4. Act II/ Sequence
5.5. Act III/ Sequence
5.6. Act IV/ Sequence
5.7. Act V/ Sequence
5.8. Tradition of Shakespearean Merchant Screen Adaptations

6. Transcultural Elements in Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti
6.1. ‘Transcultural Languages’
6.2. ‘Transcultural Bodies’
6.3. ‘Transcultural Sites’

7. Conclusion

8. Appendices
8.1. Appendix One: Filmography
8.2. Appendix Two: ‘Being a Maori is’
8.3. Appendix Three: Chronological List of Reviews
8.4. Appendix Four: Sequence Record
8.5. Appendix Five: Lines Excluded
8.6. Appendix Six: Subtitles
8.7. Appendix Seven: Comparison of Merchant Adaptations

9. Glossary

10. Bibliography

List of Illustrations

1 Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti

He Taonga. “Wallpapers.” The Maori Merchant of Venice. 9 Sept. 2005. < Wallpapers/wallpapers.html>

2 Image of Shakespeare wearing a moko

Cover Illustration . Shakespeare Quarterly 52.4 (2001).

3 ‘What is Maori? Who is Pakeha?’

Cover Page. North and South Aug. 2003: 1.

4 Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti

CD Cover. The Maori Merchant of Venice., 2002.

5 Maori filmmaker Don C. Selwyn

Massey University. 10.12.2001. 9 Sept. 2005 <>.

6 Antonio and Shylock (I.3)

He Taonga. “Media Stills.” The Maori Merchant of Venice. 9 Sept. 2005

< Media_Stills/media_stills.html>.

7 Portia and Bassanio (III.2)


8 Shylock (IV.1)


9 Low angle shot, Antonio

Still photographed from DVD (I.3)

10 High angle shot, Shylock

Still photographed from DVD (I.3)

11 Lower angle, Antonio despising Shylock

Still photographed from DVD (I.3)

12 Higher angle, Shylock facing humiliation

Still photographed from DVD (I.3)

13 Locale Weniti, market place

Massey University. 12.02.2001. 9 Sept. 2005 < Massey_News/February/Feb_12/Stories/shakespare.html>.

14 Locale Peremona, interior

He Taonga. “Media Stills.” The Maori Merchant of Venice. 9 Sept. 2005

< Media_Stills/media_stills.html>.

15 Locale Peremona, exterior

He Taonga. “Media Stills.” The Maori Merchant of Venice. 9 Sept. 2005

< Media_Stills/media_stills.html>.

1 Introduction

‘Kaore koia he ringaringa o te Hurai, he manawa, he tinana, he whakaaro, he aroha, he hiahia?’ are the first words the audience hears in a voiceover of the opening shot of the Māori film Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti. The subtitles reveal bit by bit the English translation ‘Hath not a Jew hands, / organs, / dimensions, / senses, / affections, / passions?’ while the camera focuses on a step covered with autumn leaves, then tracks back, tilts from low towards the top showing a person slowly walking up the stairway and looking up into the sky before it cuts to dark bluish clouds and lightning. A ship swaying heavily on the ocean with the gloomy orchestral sound of the film’s musical score ‘The Storm’ fortifies the dramatic tension of this scene. The person’s garment and the yarmulke clearly distinguish him as the Jewish moneylender of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Yet, in the following shot the audience find themselves in an enchanted forest, the moon shining on a mysterious torchlight procession of a group of turbaned people lead through the darkness by a singing woman and disguised fairylike creatures. When seeing this one-minute scene, the viewer would likely be distracted as how to associate this kind of exotic ‘green world’, that is more reminiscent of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the film adaptation of his Merchant play. It is obvious that these two scenes already establish and highlight the film’s focus that will emphasise the play’s theme of mercy overcoming revenge packaged in indigenous Māori[1] cultural elements. However, this screen version of The Merchant of Venice is actually not only a Shakespearean appropriation for a Māori audience. This thesis argues that by mixing local as well as global cultural elements the film promotes Shakespeare on a transcultural level, which on the one hand aids the tangata whenua (Māori people)[2] with the restoration of their language and cultural identity in New Zealand, and on the other hand also relates to an international audience by providing a culturally enhanced Shakespeare production and contributing a valuable artefact that shows the universal relevance of this play.

1.1 General Assumptions

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice has crossed my path many times – in English class at school when I was a pupil, as a student at university, as an actress in the theatre, in performances and films, on travels abroad, most significantly in New Zealand as the Maori Merchant, and in many other transformed texts and art forms of the 20th/21st century.[3] It has been a controversial play, being produced on stage countless times, and since the beginning of motion pictures, it has been turned into various film adaptations. The play occurs in such a variety of depictions, in all kinds of cultures and nations worldwide in our contemporary life, that this raises the question as to why this play seems to be as significant today as it was in Shakespeare’s time.[4] After Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice is the most discussed of Shakespeare’s plays (cf. Halio 2000: xvii, 166). Its themes about making money, mercy against justice, love against hate, Jew against Christian, remain relevant today. However, the performance, reception and understanding of the character Shylock has changed from a comical into a rather tragic figure. Shakespeare wrote a comedy for the Renaissance society of his time, where the Jew Shylock was seen as a ‘clown’ and when racial, national and religious difference was a central point of the culture, worldview and ideology of the Elizabethan period. Due to colonialism and the discovery of the new world, some changes in the attitude to difference and ‘modern racism’ occurred (cf. Loomba 2002: 1, 17-20). Today, money and capitalism seem to have developed to the central notion of our lives, and after the Holocaust the words ‘race’, ‘racism’ and ‘anti-Semitism’, ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ have acquired different connotations and are perceived differently to the Renaissance. In addition, The Merchant of Venice is now labelled as problem play (Mahon 2002: 2) or even performed as a social tragedy (McCullough 2005: 34) omitting the last act, acting as a mirror for society.

This change in the way The Merchant of Venice is viewed is not only visible chronologically over the years, but also geographically and nationally within different cultures, as The Merchant of Venice has been adapted for theatre not only in English, but as well in non-Anglophone languages all over the world. Whereas with colonialism Shakespeare was used as an instrument to civilise the ‘Other’ and to stamp the Englishness and the imperial culture on the colonies, we find non-European and indigenous cultures appropriating Shakespeare for their own interests. Thus, The Merchant of Venice has changed from a British symbol of imperialistic culture to a hybrid form in non-Anglophone languages to re-establish a minoritised culture. These Shakespeare productions have resulted in changed appropriations to Shakespeare, and command more attention of critics today. Where European or American adaptations of The Merchant of Venice are often produced in the tradition of heritage films[5] (cf. the BBC television productions or the latest adaptation by Michael Radford in 2004), i.e. recalling the history of anti-Semitism in the 20th century, non-European appropriations without a manifested history of Semitism – though mostly with a history of colonialism – supply a transformed view of the The Merchant of Venice by transposing local references from their own culture, history and tradition to the play.[6] Especially in the postcolonial cultures such as in India, South Africa, or New Zealand, The Merchant of Venice has been frequently adapted[7]. This re-creation of Shakespeare demonstrates to a certain degree the universal and timeless aspects of the play’s themes that overcome history. However, this does not explain the growing interest and rising number of Shakespearean appropriations during the last century. This certainly has to do with the increasing significance of media and with the former colonised states’ progression into post-colonial positions.

The invention of new technology has made the world smaller. With different means of communication people are able to interact together internationally and the opportunities for the audio-visual media to capture theatre performances or to produce film adaptations of a play make it possible for the director to show his/her work to a wider audience and makes the product stable and lasting for generations. This ‘globalisation’ of Shakespeare is a ‘two-fold process’ of the ‘universalization of particularism’ and the ‘particularization of universalism’ (cf. Robertson 1996) that at the same time opposes and effects a localisation – the post-colonial situation results in the awakening of subordinated cultures and their need to renew their own identity by using Shakespeare’s plays as a vehicle for this. Shakespeare himself lived in the Renaissance period; now his plays are used in the Renaissance of other cultures (mostly in those which were oppressed by the British). These ‘globalising’ circumstances are also visible in Don Selwyn’s film Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti/The Maori Merchant of Venice (2002) and these will be examined in this paper. In the film Shakespeare’s cultural function is dual – local and global (cf. Mark Houlahan 2005). It reconstructs and fosters Māori language and traditions, and at the same time it (re)constructs Shakespeare. Remarkably, this aspect could be claimed as a ‘transcultural-Renaissance’ for both Māori and Shakespeare.

The development of new forms of media and the possibilities of replicating and recording art and the ease of obtaining information has influenced also literature, performance and cultural studies and resulted in an immense volume of new aspects of theory. As Martin Coyle argues in his introductory chapter on The Merchant of Venice: William Shakespeare, Contemporary Critical Essays, this is achieved by a new way of reading. The evolving and defining of new theories and new criticism has influenced a shift in recent approaches of Poststructuralism, Postcolonialism or Cultural Studies. In contrast to the traditional reading, the new discussions are concerned with the historical, cultural and political aspects of Shakespearean appropriations. As Shakespeare’s plays allow different interpretations, there are numerous perspectives and a variety of adaptations. This modern critical theory developed out of the criticism of poststructuralism (meaning is plural as language is unstable) and drama (variations of a text arise from performances in different times and spaces and therefore make it more complex). Coyle points out that the multiple meanings of a play derive from the link between text and criticism – ‘the text […] provokes criticism, good criticism opens up the text, which opens up criticism, which opens up the text further’ (1998: 19). Sonia Massai, on the other hand, argues from a more sociological perspective and relates the various Shakespeare adaptations to Bourdieu’s notion of a ‘cultural’ field, which explains the interplay between criticism and new adaptations/creations, due to their wide reaching and flexible margins of this field. This is visible in the variety of recent worldwide Shakespeare appropriations, which have contributed to changed views about Shakespeare (cf. 2005: 6, 7). With the use of ideas from different disciplines (philosophy, politics, literature, cultural studies, sociology/anthropology, film studies etc.) when interpreting Shakespeare’s plays, we can establish new understandings and introduce new aspects. Both Coyle’s and Massai’s approach relate to The Maori Merchant of Venice, as the film allows a local as well as global reading that makes it relevant for Māori as well as for international viewers and opens up a new perspective on a ‘transcultural’ field.

This thesis adds an extended approach to the aspect of ‘Other’ Shakespeares with the Māori film adaptation of Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti – The Maori Merchant of Venice as a new form of a local as well as global Shakespearean appropriation. It examines how Māori culture and identity is shown in the film, by using Shakespeare as an international trademark for their own means of fostering Māori identity and to make this language and culture internationally known to a worldwide Shakespeare audience. At the same time, the thesis scrutinises how other global cultural elements are interwoven into the screen adaptation, which effects a hybridisation of Shakespeare and transcends the film into a transcultural space. Through this transculturality it is argued that the screen version overcomes the binary notion of Self/Other as ‘Western’ and ‘Indigenous’ culture are interwoven into one equal network. Since this film is the first Shakespearean film adaptation in New Zealand and also the first Māori feature film totally in te reo Māori, it marks the beginning of a new era – the beginning of a New Zealand – Māori Shakespeare. In addition, it exposes a new kind of hybridity as it is the first indigenous The Merchant of Venice film adaptation, and also the first film production of any of Shakespeare’s plays ever made in the Pacific.

1.2 Objectives

This thesis draws on a variety of theories and methodologies. It is embedded in the concepts of postcolonial theory developed by Edward Said and Homi Bhabha and the central theme of hybrid productions in postcolonialism, but it also consults new historicism, cultural studies and film theory. These theories and concepts are not only viewed from a Western perspective but are combined with Pacific and Māori cultural and film theory. The blend is vital to this research, as this Shakespeare adaptation has its origins in the Pacific and is made by Māori people utilising Māori cultural elements. Therefore, it is essential to connect Western with ‘Indigenous’ perspectives to acquire a balanced outcome.

The key aspects addressed are related to the terms ‘culture’, ‘appropriation’, ‘identity’, ‘transculturality’ and ‘hybridity’. How Māori appropriate Shakespeare, by way of a post-colonial cinematic negotiation and how Shakespeare is ‘indigenised’ is significant to this research. The Merchant of Venice refers to the issue of money and the loss of traditional values. Significantly, the film indirectly addresses this loss of Māori tradition and identity, which was mainly caused by Shakespeare’s ‘descendants’, the British nation who colonised Aotearoa/New Zealand in the late 18th/ early 19th century and oppressed the Māori, as they were seen as an inferior and uncivilised people. Nowadays, many Māori people face problems in defining their own identity. By showing aspects of Māori culture – especially with the use of the traditional, highly metaphorical te reo Māori dialect, a kind of speaking which has almost been lost in modern Māori – the film aims to appeal to its audience, opening their eyes that it is important to be concerned about one’s identity, and to look after traditions in order not to lose them. Thus, the Māori language is the vehicle for transporting Shakespeare to different dimensions. This paper argues that Shakespeare is not a foreigner to us (cf. Kennedy 1993: 16), but rather is nationless and belongs to everyone. He is still as vivid today as four hundred years ago, and can be appropriated by each person. Thus, he is native to all of us, meaning there exists an English, Indian, German, as well as a Māori Shakespeare. These cultural transformations enrich not only the mana (power, prestige) of the people appropriating Shakespeare, but also augment Shakespeare’s mana by making him a cultural hybrid (cf. Houlahan 2005: 148).

The field of Shakespeare appropriations in Aotearoa/New Zealand is new. Little research has been published on Don Selwyn’s film. The reviews found on the film’s website praise it as being valuable for Māori speakers and as a fruitful educational source in schools for bringing Shakespeare close to New Zealand’s students, which is one of the main reasons why the film was produced. Yet not much has been written on the global value the film has for an international Shakespeare audience. This is only converged by some scholars like Valerie Wayne, Macdonald Jackson, or Mark Houlahan in his essay ‘Hekepia? The Mana of the Māori Merchant’ who sees the film overcoming ‘local’ and ‘global’ spaces (2005: 141-48). This research will give an insight into how Don Selwyn mixes ‘global’ cultural elements and thus transcends the film into a transcultural sphere making it invaluable not only for Māori people but also for a worldwide audience.

There is an emerging trend visible in the making of non-Anglophone Shakespeare film adaptations, where indigenous/colonised cultures apply Shakespeare to their own needs. Herein, a differentiation between settler and invaded colonies is inadequate, as in both types the hegemonic culture had oppressed the native one. New Zealand steps into these footsteps of ‘dislocating Shakespeare’[8] to the margins of the world. Yet, Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti marks a unique way of appropriating the Bard towards a complete worldwide and international understanding, which enriches our cultural life as well as that of others.

Aotearoa/New Zealand has been establishing a distinct and original tradition of film adaptations, with which they have claimed a high reputation in the global world of films. New Zealanders can be proud of Peter Jackson’s world-renowned and award-winning trilogy adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Niki Caro’s film adaptation (2003) of Whiti Ihimaera’s novel Whalerider, Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors (1994) film adaptation of Alan Duff’s bestseller, or the recent film production of C. S. Lewis’ fantasy books The Chronicles of Narnia directed by ‘Kiwi’ Andrew Adamson, which all gained international success. These film adaptations try to depict the storylines as true as possible to the primary source. So does Don Selwyn with his Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti. The film makes the impression of being rather ‘archaic’ compared to other contemporary western Shakespeare productions like Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet or Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000), just to name two, who transpose Shakespeare onto modern times in a fashionable ‘popular cultural’ approach. Don Selwyn’s film, on the contrary, seems in many ways to be traditional, and sets Shakespeare’s Merchant in old Venice, mingled with the ‘exotic’ place of Peremona (Belmont). This thesis argues that by adapting The Merchant of Venice in an old style, seemingly traditional manner, Māori apply Shakespeare in terms of high culture to reclaim their own cultural traditions, language and values. They ‘decolonise’ their culture by ‘colonising’ the English cultural icon Shakespeare. This way of reversal is necessary to process colonial history in a postcolonial perspective. As Shane Edwards states in his masters thesis, Māori are ‘walking backwards into the future so that we always see our past’ (1999: 62). On closer inspection, the screen version reveals many aspects of delocalisation. For instance, when considering the question of ‘race’, ‘difference’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ these issues are transmitted in a different light in the film. As the Māori had little contact with anti-Semitism, and as the cast consists of Māori actors only, Māori as a colonised nation can somehow identify with the figure of Shylock as an ‘alien’ and ‘outsider’. Therefore, the film’s depiction of the Jewish moneylender will be a central focus and closely examined in a detailed film analysis later in this paper.

This thesis raises another issue: How can non-Māori ‘enter’ or understand Māoritanga (Māori culture) and te ao Māori (the Māori world) when it is certainly not possible to identify with it? The reception of the film through our senses with human understanding is not sufficient. Rather we have to be open and tolerant to innovative different views and break with present stereotypes. This film is not only made for a Māori audience, but for everybody. Non-New Zealanders might not have an understanding of the specifics of Māori culture; however, we can understand the core meanings of the film with and without knowledge of Shakespeare’s play. We put the film into our own context and life, and draw on contemporary meanings, ideology and our experience to gain an appropriate understanding of the film, which will vary according to place and time.

Writing about an indigenous Fourth cinema film presents a challenge. As an ‘outsider’ to Māori culture, as a European and white person, it is a difficult task to meet the requirements of Māori and there is a risk of being rejected for obvious reasons that ‘Western’ society and colonialism has imposed on indigenous people. These historical notions have to be considered as real connotations of the author’s ‘background’ – we cannot wipe out history, but must keep history in mind. Therefore, to give a concrete approach, I believe it is necessary and important to be closely in contact with Māori people to get to a better understanding of their culture and to consider the right aspects and judge in a respectful and appropriate way. It is crucial to obtain feedback from Māori people in New Zealand to come to a justified conclusion. Therefore, the paper is furnished with research carried out in New Zealand and it attempts to combine Western with Pacific viewpoints. However, this research cannot provide a complete image of te ao Māori with their complex notion of Māoritanga; rather it presents certain selected characteristics. With the help of these local contributions and support, the paper gives an insight to the local and global aspects of the film adaptation and studies the methods used in the film.

1.3 Outline

This thesis is divided into two parts – a historical-theoretical and an analytical one. The first part examines the tradition of Shakespeare in New Zealand, the establishment of Māori theatre and discusses different perspectives of Māori identity. It refers to theoretical concepts of hybridity and transculturality of Western and Māori origin. This first part might not at first reading directly consider and refer to The Maori Merchant of Venice; yet it is crucial to this thesis in pointing out the historical and theoretical background to better understand the film adaptation and follow the argumentation of this paper. History has shaped and is still constructing our cultures and identities (cf. Bell 2004). Therefore, it is essential to examine the notion of Shakespeare in Aotearoa/New Zealand and it is necessary to know about Aotearoa’s colonial history, the impact it had on Māori culture and identity and which positions they hold in society, to link and embed this Shakespeare appropriation into the right context.

The second part of this research paper takes a closer look at selected elements of Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti from the perspective of global and local influences. It explores the way in which the film constructs Māori identity cinematically and how Shakespeare is located within Māori tradition and culture into a transcultural narrative. Therefore, the ambitions and intentions of this Maori Merchant film shall be examined in combination with background information on the film production and the problems that occurred before making this film. In addition, an analysis of the reviews written about the film will point out how this Shakespearean adaptation is perceived by national and international critics. The central component of the analytical part of this thesis contains a detailed film analysis of the adaptation, which discusses the different cultural elements that are embedded into the screen adaptation. This is merged with a precise comparison to Shakespeare’s play in order to highlight the similarities and differences to the original script and how the film director focuses on specific aspects and themes that are important for his way of reading the play and creating a transcultural adaptation. This chapter finishes with a concise comparison of Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti to four other ‘Western’ film adaptations of this play, to highlight the unique perspective of this Māori version, but also to identify parallels that positions Don Selwyn’s film’s on an equal level. The last chapter of this thesis concentrates on distinct elements such as the film music, language, characters and settings divided into the key aspects of ‘transcultural languages’ ‘transcultural bodies’ and ‘transcultural sites’.[9] The analysis of these single components of the film shall reveal how culture is embedded here. It is argued that these overt/central cultural elements of The Maori Merchant of Venice like the Māori language, music and the cast show the ‘local’ perspective and classify this film as a Māori Shakespeare adaptation, yet they still display cultural hybridity, which makes the film not only on the macro, but also on the micro level a transcultural screen version.

1.4 Definitions

For clarification it is crucial to give explanations of the terms ‘hybridity’ and ‘transculturality’ which this thesis relies upon throughout its argumentation. As there are differing understandings and concepts of these expressions the following definitions will explicate the context in which the terms are utilised.


In this thesis the term ‘hybridity’ is used in a postcolonial, ‘social constructionist’ sense referring to the mixing and combining of different cultural elements. This concept of hybridity reveals the reverse of the essentialist thinking[10] and argues that culture and identity arise out of social interaction, thus are not linked to biological races, but are diverse and fluid changing over time (cf. Bell and Matthewman 2004: 123-5). This concept of hybridity is related to the work of the postcolonial theorist Homi Bhabha, who described hybridity as moving beyond colonial relationships and identities as there is an interdependence of the dominant and subordinate culture. He argues that culture is a hybrid nature and that there is no cultural purity as cultural systems are always constructed in cultural spaces referring to networks of diverse influences and cultural differences. He calls these hybrid ‘inbetween’ spaces the ‘Third Space of enunciation’ which with its ambivalent and contradictory character abolishes the traditional notion of a homogeneous culture (1994: 54-5) and works as ‘the precondition for the articulation of cultural difference’ (56). Accordingly, Bhabha sees culture as a fluid process that cannot be controlled. His concept of hybridity dislocates inflicted hierarchies and claims a wider understanding of the diversity of cultural identities that eliminates constructed notions of the Self and Other. Bhabha anticipates that ‘by exploring this Third Space, we may elude the politics of polarity and emerge as the others of our selves.’ (56).

This concept of hybridity will be applied to the film adaptation of Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti and aims to point out the different cultural elements that are apparent in this screen version. It is argued that the Maori Merchant relies on cultural transformations and through this mixture of influences, the film creates a hybrid Shakespearean production that as it transcends into the ‘Third Space’, goes beyond the perception of ‘Other’ Shakespeares. This notion overlaps with the concept of transculturality which also refers to culture and cultural identity and, therefore, is closely related to the term hybridity.


Wolfgang Welsch’s concept of transculturality forms the framework of this thesis. Although explained in detail in chapter three, a short abstract is required here to explain how this term is utilised throughout the paper. ‘Transculturality’ transforms the traditional concepts of culture, identity, nation, race and community as it refers to the fluid exchange and blend of different cultural elements in a transcultural space. It works on the internal/micro level – for an individual combines a plurality of cultural influences – as well as the external/macro level – for cultures today cross national borders and unite various aspects of all existing cultures together (cf. Welsch 1994, 1999). In this sense ‘transculturality’ seems to be similar to Robertson’s understanding of ‘globalisation’ as it simultaneously merges global unification and local differentiation. The concept of transculturality, however, goes a step further as, with its ambiguity, it transcends into an ‘in-betweenness’ of uniformity and particularity, thus evading the problematic debates that are linked to the term ‘globalisation’.

This ‘in-betweenness’ parallels Homi Bhabha’s concept of hybridity and the ‘Third Space’. Welsch also sees today’s cultures as hybrid heterogeneous forms existing in a transcultural space that exceeds the view of Self/Other and frees itself from these existing conventions. This transcultural space combines different versions of cultural ‘networks’ of transcultural identities, which are woven from various sources that can be at times specific and distinctive, but at other points also similar to each other. By referring to these transcultural nets Welsch claims that all existing cultures are placed in a mutual transcultural world and as a result there is no distinction between ‘Self’ and ‘Other’. With these intertwinements Welsh argues that most individuals are cultural hybrids: he does not restrict his concept to the hybrid nature of minority cultural identities, but sees it as a universal open system. In this aspect the concept of transculturality is more impartial as it carries no connotations of hegemony. Furthermore, it is noticeable that ‘transculturality’ comprises the terms ‘hybridity’ and ‘globalisation’, it refers to the mixing of different cultural elements and at the same time is a two-fold process that can be global/universal, but simultaneously also local/particular. Thus, transculturality can be viewed as a superordinate concept representing a ‘glocal[11] Third Space’.

2 Shakespeare in New Zealand

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

2 Image of Shakespeare wearing a moko.

2.1 Shakespeare as Colonial ‘Mimicry’

‘Shakespeare’ travelled to New Zealand on board the Endeavour in 1769 when Captain James Cook made his first journey to the South Pacific and declared Aotearoa/New Zealand a British possession. Cook’s artist Sydney Parkinson held a copy of Shakespeare’s Collected Works in his small library (cf. Neill 2001: v; Houlahan 2001: 318). Since then Shakespeare has had an impact on New Zealand’s culture, although there are no references to Shakespearean performances until the middle of the 19th century. Yet for the migrants at that time Shakespeare had already turned into a status symbol of British high culture and education and served as a representative of the superior empire (cf. Neill 1998: 172). This prestige and also displacement of Shakespeare from the centre to the edges of the world increased with later migrant waves to Aotearoa/New Zealand in the 1840s, when, as Mark Houlahan portrays it, ‘large numbers of British settlers arrived bearing their Shakespeares along with their Bibles’[13] (2005: 141). [12]

However, itineraries of Shakespeare’s plays had already emerged in his time, when the European world flourished with commerce, economic changes and the opening up of new markets during the Renaissance period. In 1607-08 Hamlet was documented to be performed on an East Indian ship on the shore of today’s Sierra Leone (cf. Neill 1998: 171). With the expansion of the British territory in the form of colonies, Shakespeare was introduced to several other parts of the world. Compared to Canada, where the earliest reference to Shakespeare productions goes back to the 1760s[14], India (1770s)[15], South Africa (1799)[16] or even Australia (1800; 1833 first professional Shakespeare performance)[17], New Zealand was slow on the uptake of Shakespeare performances with the first reference to a Macbeth production in 1846 (cf. Houlahan 1999: 490-1). This results partially from historical reasons, whereby the British colonised New Zealand very late, as it was the most remote and furthest country from Europe, and partially also, because historical sources are uncertain and incomplete.

Nevertheless, the later progress of Shakespeare productions in Aotearoa/New Zealand is very similar to other British settlements.[18] A long-lasting tradition of touring English theatre companies performing Shakespeare plays throughout the 19th and 20th century had a big influence on the theatre in New Zealand. The theatre companies’ predominating performances of Shakespeare were Hamlet and Othello (ibid.: 491), though The Merchant of Venice was also staged several times[19] and has been in the repertoire of all eight professional theatres in New Zealand to date.

At the beginning of the 20th century, however, McNaughton records rising criticism in the press on the ‘vulgarisation’ of these plays and discussions about the autonomy of the texts (1983: 16). Another instance shows the three-day festival of a ‘Shakespearian Pageant at Havelock’ in 1912, where ‘Shakespearian Games’, torchlight processions and a performance of The Merchant of Venice celebrated a relocation of the English Bard in the small New Zealand community of Havelock (cf. Houlahan 2002: 115-6). These claims reveal how at this stage the New Zealanders were still closely tied to their British heritage[20], whereas the development away from the traditional to a more innovative approach to Shakespeare with a broader and more varied production of his plays had already occurred in Europe.[21] There was still a long way to go to Shakespearean adaptations such as Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti. For these the establishment of an independent national theatre away from the colonial mimicry of British traditions was essential; this also required the formation of a national identity in New Zealand.

2.2 Towards a National Theatre

Aotearoa/New Zealand experienced comparable problems and phases as other British colonies did in building up a national theatre culture. In his book Bühne am Ende der Welt Hartmut Jäcksch attempts to show the development of national identity in theatre and connects it to the historical, political and social backgrounds of New Zealand, which have influenced the theatre system and the themes of the plays performed. He defines ‘national theatre’ as professional and non-commercial, which produces plays and obtains funding from the government (Jäcksch 1999: 10). I wish to open up this definition in a wider sense by adding the fact of ‘alteration’, in the sense of modifying classical texts to a New Zealand approach enhanced with local elements. In this way, adaptations of non-New Zealand playwrights, such as Shakespeare, are part of the national theatre.

The development of a national theatre was impeded by the small size of the population and the remoteness of the country, with ‘few urban centers which would be regarded as minor provincial towns in most other parts of the world’ (Leek 1979: 272). This dispersal hindered cultural activities and made an expansion of professional theatre difficult. In addition, the differences and conflicts between the Pākehā and Māori culture caused a hesitant development of a national identity throughout the centuries (Jäcksch 1999: 18-9). Although the first plays with New Zealand topics were composed by New Zealand dramatists in the 1870s, Jäcksch claims that a glimpse of national theatre arose only after the Second World War, when international theatre groups had stopped travelling to New Zealand and Community and Unity Theatres spread throughout the country and became a social element of the country, addressing social, political and moral issues in their plays. Until the 1970s he sees New Zealand’s national theatre and identity consolidating, supported by economic growth, social prosperity and a growing cultural awareness (ibid.: 23-36).

2.3 Shakespeare Becoming a ‘Kiwi’

The consciousness of a national identity in New Zealand transformed also the approach to Shakespeare. The 1970s mark a shift away from traditional Shakespeare productions – dominated by regular performances of New Zealand’s writer and director Ngaio Marsh from 1942 to 1972, and local repertory companies in the 1960s – to a more modern, postcolonial style of acting and setting Shakespeare in multicultural Aotearoa (cf. Houlahan 1999: 491). In 1971 the Globe Theatre Dunedin staged Hamlet 2000 with an ‘amazing Freudian headgear’ (ibid.) and in 1978 the Downstage Theatre Wellington celebrated a Shakespeare Festival under the title ‘Fancy’s Child’ with its premiere debut of The Merchant of Venice (cf. Simpson and Ord 1989: 5).

The transformation of Shakespeare’s plays, however, needed time to experiment and more professional shaping. Leek scathingly criticises the Shakespeare productions of 1978. He refers to two Merchant performances, which were staged in a modern and original way (set in the 1930s in Fascist Italy), but were in his mind ‘an artistic disaster,’ concerning the style of acting and the ‘perversion of the text which made no sense from any one scene to the next’ (1979: 274). Still, both productions were successful with the audience: The Merchant production at the Downstage festival was sold out for most of the 34 performances. This fact demonstrates the audience’s desire for a modernised Shakespeare in New Zealand.

A year later, Adrian Kiernander reveals 1979 as a ‘turning point for New Zealand theatre’ referring to the modern productions of Macbeth (Wellington) and Twelfth Night (Auckland) in that year, which emphasised innovative and national values for New Zealand (1980: 400, 402). During the following years, Shakespeare performances in Aotearoa developed to modern and refined adaptations away from the British Empire to a unique New Zealand style.[22]

Since the late 20th century, Shakespeare in Aotearoa/New Zealand has been practiced in distinct ‘Kiwi’ forms: the plays are performed in public gardens, on river banks and beaches; Shakespeare high school festivals (the most famous is the Sheilah Winn national festival of Shakespeare in schools) have been established as annual competitions which get national funding; and Summer Shakespeare performances have become increasingly popular at New Zealand’s universities. Nevertheless, references to ‘bardolatry’ and Shakespeare’s England are still obvious throughout the country. New Zealand owns a Shakespeare Globe Centre, a Globe Theatre in Dunedin, and can be proud of a biennual Stratford Shakespeare Festival held in Stratford (New Zealand) with ‘screenings, full performances, street parades and workshops for teachers’ (cf. Houlahan 1999: 490, 2001: 319; Creative New Zealand). However, these performances contain multicultural characteristics unique to New Zealand. This cultural hybridity is evident in multiple South Pacific settings like Warwick Broadhead’s Tempest (1986) with its influences from Bali and Japan, or Romeo & Tusi [23] set into a Māori and Samoan context localised in New Zealand (cf. Houlahan 1999: 491, 2001: 319). The main reason for this hybrid development of local and multi-ethnic Shakespeare productions definitely occurs from the recent renaissance of Māori culture, the multicultural New Zealand with its high Pacific Island population, and the rise of Māori theatre in the 1990s with its major tribute of New Zealand’s first Shakespeare film in 2001 – Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti, a distinctive Māori adaptation of the Bard’s Merchant.

2.4 Shakespeare and Māori Theatre

Māori identity has been, similar to the emergence of a national theatre in New Zealand, crucial towards the formation of a Māori theatre tradition. Since Māori culture had been suppressed by the British colonisers, they have struggled to gain back their identity and to become an established minority in their own country, Aotearoa. I have separated the Māori aspect of this chapter, not to detach it from New Zealand theatre, as Māori certainly are one part of New Zealand’s national theatre and identity, but to show their distinct impact on and appropriation of Shakespeare’s plays.

There is a driving force in Maori theatre to re-establish cultural identity, to work with our own stories and people and to re-assert the mana of the tangata whenua. I see Maori theatre as Tino Rangatiratanga in action. By that I mean it is a visible claiming of the right to control and present our own material in the way which we deem most suitable, and using processes we have determined (Potiki 1991: 57).

The way the Māori playwright Roma Potiki defines Māori theatre is the same way in which I approach the term. With Māori theatre I allude to drama that is mainly controlled and performed by Māori people. The themes and notions of the plays are set into Māori life and culture. Thus, Don Selwyn’s 1990 theatre production of Shakespeare’s Merchant, makes it Māori theatre, as the play was totally adapted in a Māori way with Māori actors, and which accordingly makes its subsequent film adaptation a Māori film.

The development of Māori drama proceeded slowly and late. Māori actors were performing on stage long before the first Māori playwrights were accepted and successfully presented their works. Some critics see Bruce Mason’s The Pohutukawa Tree (1956) as New Zealand’s first national theatre play (Jäcksch 1999), but it can be viewed as the first Māori play as well, though Mason himself was Pākehā. The play shows local issues and conflicts, and as well accentuates the positive aspects of Māoritanga instead of showing the Māori in a negative stereotypical way. The three main protagonists of the play are Māori of two generations (mother and her children), who take different views on traditional life in the modern time. Mason addresses this conflict of two cultures also in his famous play Awatea (1964) in which he put a local zest by adding Māori dancing and singing. In these and his later Māori plays, Mason gives the audience an insight into Māori ways and culture, while at the same time parodying aspects of Pākehā rituals (cf. Thomson 1984: 55-7).

In the 1940s the renowned scholar Dr. Pei Te Hurunui Jones (1898-1976) translated three of Shakespeare’s’ plays (Julius Cesar, Othello and The Merchant of Venice)[24] into classical te reo Māori, but it took nearly half a century until eventually one of these plays was staged by Don Selwyn. In fact, only a small number of Māori plays are entirely in the Māori language. The main language used in Māori plays is English, combined with traditional Māori elements like the haka, waiata, or karanga, where te reo Māori is presented just in a minor proportion and functions merely in transmitting cultural significance rather than information. This results from a mixed Māori and Pākehā audience, but also because of the poor command of this indigenous language by Māori people, which has derived from its repression in colonial New Zealand. Therefore, Māori theatre cannot be merely defined in terms of the language used, but must take into account the Māori content of the plays, the playwright and actors (cf. Potiki 1991: 57-8).

In 1966 the Māori Theatre Trust was founded and this represented another important step towards the establishment of Māori theatre. Amongst its five members was Don Selwyn, who at that time was already a distinguished Māori actor. The trust’s first production was the mythical folk opera Uenuku which is based on an old Māori legend and was written by Pei Te Hurinui Jones (Te Ao Hou 1966: 57). It is uncertain if, at this time, he asked Selwyn to perform his Shakespeare translation of The Merchant of Venice; however, their commitment to Māori theatre and their passion for Shakespeare ensured a prolific and influential friendship between them.

In the bilingual magazine Te Ao Hou – The New World (published from 1952 to 76 by the Māori Affairs Department) the Māori Theatre Trust also gave some comments on Māoridom and theatre at that time; it comments on James Richie’s He Mana Toa (1965) production in Wellington in 1967. Yet, the trust did not have much influence on the overall representation of Māori theatre, and during the following years Māori were not presented in New Zealand’s professional theatres’ repertoires, but were mainly addressed in plays dealing with racism and race issues, often in an unjustified manner by New Zealand’s predominantly Pākehā society (cf. Jäcksch 1999: 69-80, Potiki 1991: 62).

The 1970s and 80s were political active years, which strengthened the Māori feeling of solidarity in various demonstrations against the injustice existing in New Zealand. The ‘Māori Land March’ in 1975 under the slogan ‘Not one more acre of Māori land’ resulted successfully in the government’s passing of a law which recognised the Treaty of Waitangi[25] at least to some extent (Jäcksch 2000: 47). These events marked the beginning of the Renaissance of Māori culture and were also addressed by Māori playwrights in a very declamatory way. Māori drama at this time and later has functioned as ‘mouthpiece’ on Māori matters, and has fostered the Māori identity and culture. Roma Potiki depicts this development of Māori theatre as a progress from insecurity to security:

We’ve gone […] [f]rom a point of anxiety in theatre where we had to deal with our own feelings of inferiority and worthlessness (and some of those feelings openly fostered by Pakeha professionals) to a position of relative confidence where we have become and we have developed theatre professionals. And that confidence is hopefully now giving us the willingness to de-bunk myths and expose the injustices in a clear manner, using forms that we have chosen and processes we control (1990: 62).

Thus, with the growing establishment of Māori theatre addressing the anxieties caused by colonisation in a cultural dislocation, Māori people overcome this lack of confidence by demystifying the illusions that have been put on them and they reclaim their past in telling their own stories. This Māori revival was enhanced in 1987 with the declaration of te reo Māori as New Zealand’s official language beside English, and the subsequent formation of Māori (mainly community based) radio stations, and eventually of a Māori television channel in 2004.

Until 1990 there had been little Māori theatre and no Māori Shakespeare production. Though Māori actors performed in productions like The Merchant of Venice (1978, the Māori actor George Hemare as Shylock) there existed no Māori adaptation of the plays. This changed in spring 1990, when Don Selwyn produced the first Māori version of The Merchant of Venice totally in te reo Māori at Te Koanga Festival held for two weeks in Auckland. Surprisingly, although this was the first Shakespeare adaptation and the first festival of this kind in Māori arts and performance, not much was written about it. This could be explained by the limited announcement of this event, which has been criticised by Aotearoa Radio reporter Hoana Mitchell.[26] Still, as this festival exceeded 400 artists in number from the whole country (Te Iwi 1990: 1), it is surprising that New Zealand’s newspapers published few reviews. Nor does Lisa Warrington refer to Te Koanga Festival in her long essay on ‘Theatre in 1990’, which also provides an annotated list of New Zealand Drama in 1990 on new plays, adaptations, comedy and alike. Although she mentions the significance of other festivals for Māori theatre[27], and the flourishing ‘development and consolidation of Māori theatre’ (1994: 7) in 1990, she totally omits the Auckland festival with its performances of The Māori Merchant of Venice.

The few reviews that were written on Selwyn’s theatre performance were entirely positive, with remarks such as ‘Anybody would think that Shakespeare had especially written for the Māori race, because of the depth’ or comments on ‘the Māori audience sympathising with the Jew because they were an oppressed race’ (Te Iwi 1990: 1,5). Since this was the first Shakespeare performance in te reo Māori, New Zealand contributed to the long tradition of non-Anglophone Shakespeares.[28] The trend of dislocating Shakespeare – indigenous cultures performing Shakespeare in their language applying their own cultural elements – has increased since last century. There are, however, also earlier references like the Urdu Merchant performed already in 1884 in India called Tajir-I-Venice (Loomba 1997: 118).

During the 1990s Māori theatre prospered gradually. Other important events for this were the Theatre Marae[29] project directed by Jim Moriarty, and the foundation of the Māori Taki Rua Depot – Theatre in 1991 in Wellington[30], the first ‘Māori theatre’ house, dedicated to Māori issues, which challenged the professional theatre in New Zealand (cf. Mc Naughton 1998: 380). In addition, the official independence of the Māori Studies department took place throughout New Zealand’s universities and had a favourable effect on the development of Māori drama (cf. Jäcksch 1999: 83, 85; Webster 1998: 182). Thus, Māori have adopted the western institution of performing arts, enhancing it with their own traditions (haka, waiata, poi, for example), and have used the theatre, as well as other media, as a vehicle to disseminate their culture (Jäcksch 1999: 22).

After the difficult and hesitant start Māori theatre faced in the 1990s, the new millennium signified a sudden change. The beginning of the 21st century has marked extensive contributions to Māori and Shakespeare, which matches the worldwide growing interest in a global Shakespeare. It started with the 6th Biennial Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association in Auckland in July 2000, for which the Māori poet Merimeri Penfold wrote the first translations of nine sonnets of Shakespeare into te reo Māori (cf. Jackson 2001: 492). The conference was held under the Māori title ‘Te Whakapioi a Wi’ with the English equivalent ‘Dislocating Shakespeare’. The conference advertising contained a modified version of Shakespeare’s well-known picture from the 1623 Folio edition (Illustration 2). The image shows Shakespeare wearing a moko (Māori tattoo) on the right side of his face, a jade hei-tiki (Māori necklace of a high status symbol), and a kuru kawakawa pouri (jade earring) in his left ear. The portrait was edited by Cushla Parekowhai and Te Herenga Mātauranga, two Māori Librarians for Social Change (cf. Neill 2001: iii-v). This portrait splendidly combines two cultures meeting – the Western Shakespeare with the Māori Wī Hekepia[31]. Michael Neill explains the twofold in which this image can be perceived:

Seen from one perspective, Shakespeare’s portrait can seem to stand for the processes of colonial usurpation and displacement, with their recentering of native values; seen from another, his tattooed face can be read as a statement of counterappropriation. (2001: v)

This ‘counterappropriation’ can be seen in the metamorphosis of Shakespeare’s image into a Māori and also with the transformation of the Bard’s Merchant into the Māori language. As language is an important part of cultural identity, Shakespeare is ‘indigenised’ by the Māori via this translation and also takes on new meaning. As the German Peter Zadek commented on his Antony and Cleopatra production at the Edinburgh Festival in 1994 ‘Shakespeare in a foreign tongue becomes an analogue to the original that gives the director new freedom [and] it will be hard to go back to traditional productions’ (The Guardian 1994: 6-7). Thus, the value of non-Anglophone Shakespeare productions lies in the effect they have on changing and reshaping Shakespeare to foster and strengthen their own identity, and produce a ‘reverse colonisation’.

The conference in Auckland was followed by the release of Don Selwyn’s The Māori Merchant of Venice in 2002. It had its world premiere in February 2002 in Hamilton, and travelled through the whole country like a theatre company. All premieres were attended by the director and the main actors, dressed in their 17th century costumes and reciting some of their speeches. The whole event was turned into a Māori performance with a traditional pōwhiri (Māori welcome) and other speeches. This time, Don Selwyn’s production received numerous reviews, lots of advertisement and was highly acknowledged and honoured in the media. It has won several awards on international film festivals and was broadcast in New Zealand on Māori Television in 2004. Unfortunately, although the film was supposed to be subtitled in six other languages (to make it known worldwide), it has not yet come that far. It is very hard to get hold of a copy as there seems to be no reproduction of these. This might be due to the low budget of the production. It would be beneficial if this were carried out so that the film can be enjoyed in other nations of the world.

To recapitulate briefly, this chapter reveals that the tradition of Shakespeare in New Zealand has changed in time from being a ‘purist’ to an ‘appropriative’ tradition.[32] The first Shakespeare performances were done in a very authentic style with few or little alterations and no local aspects of New Zealand culture included. Only in the 1970s did the way of performing Shakespeare open up and this led to transformed appropriations including cultural elements unique to New Zealand. This transformation occurred simultaneously with the beginning of the Māori Renaissance. The following decades saw the establishment of a national theatre in New Zealand. Yet, Māori culture had a rather minor impact on this development and was still viewed from a more Pākehā ‘stereotyped’ perspective with Māori actors only playing minor roles or Shakespeare’s outsiders like Shylock or Othello, which still shows the traditional division into class and ethnicity.

From the 1990s onwards, Māori theatre developed into a stronger component of New Zealand theatre. New Zealanders acquired a greater awareness of the importance of Māori culture to establishing better race relations in their country. The official acknowledgement of te reo Māori language and other undertakings of the government to foster Māori culture and tradition strengthened Māori people and contributed to the recovery and reclamation of their identity. Māori people have commenced not only to retell their own stories, but also to use and transform Western traditions, like Shakespeare’s plays, for their own needs. The beginning of the 21st century has started with thriving Shakespearean appropriations of Māori and Pacific Islanders in New Zealand, mixing local cultural elements with European ones, and with Don Selwyn’s film adaptation Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti as a milestone to foster Māori identity and language.

3 Māori Cultural Identity

A Transcultural Identity?

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

3 Cover page of the New Zealand magazine North and South (2003) .

3.1 ‘Being a Maori is…’

(Looking in mirror) Equal. What do I see? A reasonable looking young man. Clean teeth. White of my eyes are bright. Brown skin. Flattish nose, thicker lips. Definitely a Maori. I can’t speak Maori, but I understand it, and when I do translate, my images are still Pakeha. Nothing I do is Maori. Someone has sneaked up and slowly hollowed me out. Someone has taken my dignity. Look, they’ve taken my land, my fish, and now they want my dignity. Leave me my dignity! So I’m looking and thinking…onehundred and fifty years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, are we, the Maori, equal to our partners? If not, are we the weaker or the stronger of the partners?’ (Broken Arse, II.iii., p.35–6). [33]

This excerpt of Bruce Stewart’s play Broken Arse illustrates in a direct and outspoken way the difficulty the main character Tama finds in defining his Māori identity within New Zealand’s mainstream ‘White’ society. Tama sees Māori and Pākehā as partners, but yet accuses ‘them’ (the colonisers) for the loss of his place, his belongings, his language, and most importantly his human rights. For him the process of colonisation still has consequences such as the dislocation of his people and the struggle to reclaim their own identity. The questions he asks about the power relations in his country are indirectly addressed to the audience and challenge their perception of the ethnic relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Although Bruce Stewart wrote this play fifteen years ago, Māori people are still struggling to define their own cultural identity and in recent years an increasing amount of literature has been written and published on the discussion about what it means to be Māori, and different approaches and theories have been applied to these crucial issues (cf. Bell 2004, Edwards 1999, Ihimaera 1998, Kukutai 2001, Melbourne 1995, Meredith 1999, Smith 1999, Wall 1995). Of course, the effects of colonialism are still visible in contemporary Māori society, though some efforts have been made by the government in the last decades to support Māori culture, e.g. via the reestablishment of the Māori language after its decline during the 20th century due to urbanisation, or the returning of small amounts of land to the tangata whenua. Still, it is going to take more time and generations until Māori people are equally treated with respect as to their claims and traditions and do not feel discriminated against. When trying to answer the questions raised by Stewart’s main character, Tama, it can be argued that, although the Māori are a minority in their own country and though in terms of treatment they still have not gained equal rights to the majority Pākehā society of New Zealand, they can be, with regards to their culture, viewed as the stronger ‘partner’ as they have managed to regain parts of their identity and continue to foster their cultural traditions.

Māori people have faced similar problems to other colonised indigenous cultures.[34] As a minority group they struggle with the hegemonic impact the majority group has on their culture and way of life. In addition, the phenomenon of globalisation and the contact with other cultures have produced widespread changes to Māori culture. The problem of Māori in defining their identity has its main roots in the loss of language and the dislocation from their whanaū (over 75 percent of Māori live in urban centres). Many Māori today have problems in self-identifying and do not truly know their whakapapa (genealogy): ‘who’ they are and ‘where’ they come from. They feel that by not speaking te reo Māori, by belonging to different ethnicities due to intermarriages, and by living in urban areas away from their iwi, they miss out on the crucial elements of Māoritanga.

The question ‘Who/What is Māori?’ cannot be easily answered. Apirana Ngata’s expression of ‘Ki te kore e mohio ki te korero Maori, ehara koe I te Maori (If you do not speak Maori then you are not Maori).’ (cited in Kukutai 2001: 56) is far too conventional and cannot be applied to contemporary Māori society. By saying ‘Māori is’ any person who speaks te reo Māori as his/her first language excludes most of the people who claim to be Māori, as most of them speak English as their mother tongue and learn Māori as their second language, and only a small percentage are actually fluent in Māori.[35] By saying ‘Māori is’ any person who carries distinct Māori features in appearance excludes those people of a mixed ethnicity who do not ‘look’ Māori.[36] So the radical formulation of Timoti Karetu that those Māori who live in cities or were adopted into-non-Māori families, who have no sense of tūrangawaewae (belonging) might have a Māori look ‘but that is where their Māoriness ends’ (Karetu 1990: 113) implies that Māori identity today involves cultural elements and a meaningful feeling of belonging to this ethnicity. Thus, the traditional view on identity does not do justice to the situation most Māori find themselves in today. Nowadays all Māori are of mixed backgrounds and have adopted a changed way of life influenced by other cultures and the progress of modernisation. There has to be a different perspective and paradigm of the concept of culture and identity for today’s hybrid Māori society. This alteration can be explained within the notion of transculturality.

3.2 Transculturality

The German philosopher Wolfgang Welsch coined the term ‘transculturality’[37] out of the need to define contemporary cultures adequately and in contrast to the traditional ideas of separate mono-cultures and the modern notions of inter- and multiculturality, which Welsch does not find appropriate enough for today’s cultures (cf. Welsch 1994, 1999)[38]. With this theory of transculturality Welsch argues that the traditional concept of a homogeneous and single culture, which was mainly developed by the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, has been outstripped, as our contemporary cultures are rather hybridisations concerning their ‘ inner differentiation and complexity’, as well as their ‘ external networking ’ (Welsch 1999: 197). He links his notion of transculturality with Wittgenstein’s view of culture as sharing traditions and practices, free of ethnic and homogenous thoughts.

For Welsch cultures are heterogeneous and free of national or geographical boundaries. He claims that the concept of a homogeneous culture was rather ideological thinking as a uniformity of culture never existed and because it is in our human nature to strive for a distinguished identity. Nations are always ‘imagined communities’[39] constructed by humans. Welsch also regards the recent concepts of multiculturality and interculturality as inappropriate for today’s cultures, as these notions see a plurality of different cultures in one nation, but still understand all of those partial cultures in the traditional concept of a homogeneous culture which results in a demarcation to other cultures. This theory of particularity and exclusion is unsafe as it can easily degenerate into conflicts and encourage nationalism. As contemporary cultures are rather heterogeneous and contain open borders, Welsch argues that modern cultures are ‘beyond the contraposition of ownness and foreignness’ (1999: 196). He sees a hybridisation in the macrocultural level, but also in the micro-level of individuals, as a consequence of migration, mixed ethnic origins and the worldwide development of communication, interaction, technology and economy – i.e. globalisation. Therefore, Welsch explains that

[t]he concept of transculturality aims for a multi-meshed and inclusive, not separatist and exclusive understanding of culture. It intends a culture and society whose pragmatic feats exist not in delimitation, but in the ability to link and undergo transition. In meeting with other lifeforms there are always not only divergences but opportunities to link up, and these can be developed and extended so that a common lifeform is fashioned which includes even reserves which hadn't earlier seemed capable of being linked in (1999: 200-1).

By referring to the issue of globalisation Welsch also states that his concept of transculturality goes beyond the debate about uniformity versus particularity[40], as the intertwining of transcultural identity results in a development of global as well as local aspects of cultures. In this respect he shares the opinion of Roland Robertson, who also sees globalisation as a two-fold process that occurs at the same time out of the contact of the global with the local (cf. Robertson 1996). Welsch compares the development of contemporary cultures by relating it to the image of inter-networks. He argues that people make use of different cultural sources and connect them in their own interest into a new transcultural network. Therefore, every transcultural identity is distinct to other networks, yet at the same time shares some positions and approaches.

Different groups or individuals which give shape to new transcultural patterns draw upon different sources for this purpose. Hence the transcultural networks will vary already in their inventory, and even more so in their structure (because even the same elements, when put together differently, result in different structures). The transcultural webs are, in short, woven with different threads, and in different manner. Therefore, on the level of transculturality, a high degree of cultural manifoldness results again - it is certainly no smaller than that which was found between traditional single cultures. It's just that now the differences no longer come about through a juxtaposition of clearly delineated cultures (like in a mosaic), but result between transcultural networks, which have some things in common while differing in others, showing overlaps and distinctions at the same time (1999: 2003).

It can be said that transculturality changes the traditional notions of ethnicity and identity. In applying this concept to Māori culture it becomes clear, that at the macro-level as well as the micro-level the Māori have intermingled different cultural identities, so that it is hard to classify Māoriness within one clear description. In this way the Māori cultural identity is certainly a transcultural identity, as Māori have adopted different cultural elements into their contemporary life. They have become hybrid identities. This issue of hybridity was observed in the New Zealand magazine North and South. The problem of how to define oneself as a Māori was considered in Margot Butcher’s article ‘What is Maori? Who is Pakeha?’, as the 2001 census demonstrated that ten percent of the people who viewed themselves as Māori did either not know their descent or did not have Māori ancestry at all. This result occurred out of a changed new demographic concept where people were/are allowed to ‘determine their own sense of ethnic belonging’ (2003: 36-7). The outcome of this new census shows that Māori identity in the individuals’ micro-level is no longer the matter of traditional definitions of origin and heritage, but rather a self-determination on how and in what sense people feel they are Māori. This ‘new concept’ of being Māori does not exclude people, as it is wrong to judge Māori who do not know their whakapapa as being less Māori than those who can prove their Māori genealogy Therefore, the consideration of genetic heritage as a major determinant of ethnicity or culture can no longer be applied to contemporary Māori people. Identity and culture are a process and change in time: they are not a stable product, but constantly transform with time and history as people never stop shaping their own identity.

To claim Māori identity as transcultural may be viewed by some critics as inappropriate for an indigenous culture. Also, given, that most academic, political and public attitudes[41] still maintain the traditional essentialist viewpoint on identity, there is a need for more clarification of this topic. Therefore, further explanations and references are given to supply evidence for the argument of a transcultural Māori identity.

3.3 Transcultural Māori Identity

For traditionalists the criteria for defining Māori identity are all based on conventional ‘authentic’ aspects like the command of te reo Māori, the notion of whakapapa, and a cultural knowledge of Māori practices and traditions (cf. Kukutai 2001, Mahuika 2006). In her thesis ‘Māori Identity and Political Arithmetick’ Tahu Kukutai outlines diverse conflicting past and present views on ‘Māoriness’ and broadly divides these into traditionalist (Māori identity as ‘immutabil’ and ‘continuing’) and non-traditionalist (‘fluidity’ and ‘ambiguity’ of Māori identity) positions. She summarises recent research as having moved away from the traditional to a broader approach to define Māori identity, which includes cultural characteristics, self-identification and the acknowledgement of cultural transformation and identity revitalisation over time (2001: 58, 64).

This new approach towards cultural identity only started some twenty years[42] ago; yet it is crucial as Māori identity has changed and has been reshaped in space and time. Before colonisation Māori identity was determined on the concept of whakapapa, i.e. the connection and belonging to one iwi (tribe), hapū (sub-tribe) and whanaū (family). Nowadays, due to urbanisation and deculturalisation, these traces have diminished, and Māori have adopted various other cultural identities, so that the aspect of heritage only does not define ‘Māoriness’, but the combination and blend of ethnic and cultural elements with individual variations (cf. Broughton 1993, Cram 1994, Durie 1995, Kukutai 2001, Stewart-Harawira 1993, Walker 1996, Webster 1998). Fiona Cram testifies that ‘[w]e each have a multitude of identities that we either get assigned or choose […] Many of us weren’t raised as Māori but can still learn and can still be Māori’ (1994: 24). With this statement Cram supports the idea of a non-traditionalist approach of a fluid and ambiguous identity. By referring to Māori as a hybrid society she touches on the concept of transculturality. Though people identify with different cultures and identities they still can claim to be and become Māori when they have personal links with Māori tīkanga, subscribe to ‘Māoritanga’ and acknowledge Māori cultural life. In this sense Māori professor Mason Durie also argues that Māori on the micro-level of cultural identity are a heterogeneous society sharing and differing in several aspects. He states that

[f]ar from being members of a homogeneous group, Maori individuals have a variety of cultural characteristics and live in a number of cultural and socio-economic realities. The relevance of so-called traditional values is not the same for all Maori, nor can it be assumed that all Maori will wish to define their ethnic identity according to classical constructs. At the same time, they will describe themselves as Maori and will reject any notion that they are “less Maori” than those who conform to the conventional image. (cited in Kukutai 2001: 60)

Durie’s testimony shows that the definition of ethnic identity is dependent on subjective personal value and emphasis, as every Māori individual comprises different transcultural aspects and yet identifies with Māori society. How and in which terms Māori describe their ‘Māoriness’ in distinct personal ways was examined in detail by Nepia Mahuika. In his oral history study, Mahuika interviewed nine Māori women from the Waikato region and analysed their understanding of mātauranga Māori under the five main characteristics (agency, historical consciousness, myth, discourse, and religion) that he regards as most influential in shaping personal subjectivity and narrative. The participants were of three generations (mostly daughter-mother-grandmother) of three different families who all had a diverse, but strong relation to their own iwi. In terms of the traditional approach to identity, all interviewees can undoubtedly be defined as Māori, as they know their whakapapa and have a marked sense of their tūrangawaewae. Nevertheless, Mahuika discovered that all participants defined mātauranga Māori, i.e. their cultural identity, in different personal terms placing assorted emphasis on the chosen five key aspects. He concludes that

[…] every woman actively constructed her own personally contextualised world view, but did so by negotiating, selecting, omitting and modifying broader discourses, myths and ideologies. In this way, they all showed that being Māori, and understanding who they were as Māori, was something each managed in a very personalised and individual way (2006: 81).

Although all of Mahuika’s participants speak te reo Māori and are of Māori descent, these aspects were not crucial requisites of Māori identity for them. In a time where diversity and individualism are highly represented in our societies, generalisations of a homogeneous cultural identity are exceeded and can easily lead to contradictions. Mahuika points out that all interviewees saw Māori and Pākehā enclosing ‘spiritual and philosophical’ awareness, yet both cultural identities were claimed as divergent with the Māori myths and spirituality to whanaū and whenua being more significant as indigenous peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand than Pākehā’s spiritual connection to this country (ibid: 86-90). These contradictions show that cultural identity is fluid and interwoven by different views and personal interpretations. In that sense, Mahuika argues that new theories and approaches have to be developed in order to move away from the ‘reductive essentialisations that inaccurately or incompletely reflect who we are and have been’ (ibid.: 101).

Such an approach can be seen in the Massey University’s longitudinal study Te Hoe Nuku Roa where Māori households were studied over a period of twenty-five years with the intention of linking the cultural, social and economic issues of contemporary Māori life, partially to develop the notion of what ‘being Māori’ means.[43] The approach of this research is founded on a ‘multi-axial’ tree model where one of the four main roots (patake) is ‘Māori culture and identity’. From this patake grow different branches (peka) connecting aspects like personal identity, cultural inheritance, and Māori traditions. On these peka are leaves (rau) that are labelled with Māori cultural elements like ethnicity, tīkanga, te reo, and others (cf. Kukutai 2001: 62). This tree model can be compared to Welsch’s concept of a transcultural network. It shows that contemporary Māori cultural identity consists of a variety of factors that are connected together and are applied in different ways negotiating personalised views and accentuations.

It must be understood that a heterogeneous society does not mean that it is less indigenous, rather that it is more varied and also distinct as it incorporates specific cultural features into the local culture. To be heterogeneous does not mean that there is a loss of indigeneity; rather it implies that the stereotypical image that has been put on the indigenous culture (by the colonising as well as the colonised people) is disintegrated to make space for a wider and more negotiable comprehension. Such new ways of thinking have been applied and theorised in different postcolonial discourses by Edward Said, Homi Bhaba, Franz Fanon, Nguhi wa Thiong’o or Ania Loomba, just to name a few. The African writer and academic Ngugi wa Thiong’o maintains that colonialism was imposed as a ‘cultural bomb’ on the people of the invaded country, which eradicated their language, heritage, tradition and belief. He argues that we ought to ‘decolonise’ our minds via questioning the classical norms, which were established through this imperialistic hegemony (Thiong’o 1986: 76). It can be considered that by deconstructing colonialism the Western views are displaced by indigenous approaches and theory. Yet, it is crucial not to reject all ‘new’ aspects, one should rather negotiate for the best inter-relation of transcultural elements for one’s own identity.

Paul Meredith argues that the classical essentialist concept of how to frame cultural identity is still used today as a means of resistance against the ‘stable’ hegemonic colonial elements, and that many tangata whenua argue it is necessary to reject all non-Māori elements and employ a specific Māori approach to regain a distinct Māori cultural identity (1998: 58). Yet, as this chapter has shown, this is wishful thinking, as there is no ‘real’ homogeneous Māori identity but rather there are lots of different aspects to the ‘Māori’ identity. Māori cultural identity exists in a transcultural ‘unity in diversity’ (Crocombe 1987) and carries significant aspects of other Pacific as well as European, Asian and American cultures, depending on where the emphasis is placed. Though Hereniko states that ‘a stereotypical cultural identity, once stuck, is almost impossible to shake off completely’ (1999: 144), Māori people have shown that stereotypes can be broken and changed, e.g. the image of the Māori ‘noble savage’ has ceased over time. Such a change has yet to take place for Māori and Pākehā to realise that the classical traditional approach to cultural identity has become invalid as identities change within time and as there is a discrepancy between the modern cultural identities and the classical stereotyped one which had prevailed before colonial times and cultural contacts. It is important to look back at the past, but with the future in mind. Māori must understand that maintaining a transcultural identity like speaking different languages has advantages and the ability to adapt. As Hereniko puts it, the challenge of today’s constructions of cultural identities lies ‘in the art of selection and negotiation’ (ibid: 150, 162). This is the starting point linking transcultural identities with local and global approaches.

Globalisation and the new communication techniques are important elements in shaping transcultural identities, and at the same time they facilitate people’s national and international representation as new media can be accessed all over the world. The powerful advantage of audio-visual media for minority groups has long been realised and has since been used to transmit a group’s cultural identity and to connect with its people. This is also the aim of Don Selwyn’s Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti. How the film maker selects and negotiates Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice by combining local and global elements and, therefore, transforming the play into a transcultural film adaptation will be explored in the next chapters.



[1] In Māori long vowels can be indicated by double vowels or by macrons. As the use of the latter is more prevalent, this thesis employs macrons for all Māori words with long vowels, apart from the citations where this distinction is missing.

[2] For a detailed translation of the Māori words see the glossary.

[3] Cf. Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh which draws on aspects of Othello and The Merchant of Venice; or Erica Jong’s novel Shylock’s Daughter that combines elements of Shakespeare’s Merchant within a modern love story. More details on adaptations of The Merchant of Venice in literature, music, paintings etc. see the ‘Sh:in:e – Shakespeare in Europe’ website of the Swiss University of Basel <>, which gives a comprehensive collection on internet links and references on various plays of Shakespeare and other valuable information.

[4] There is a vast amount of literature on theatre and film productions of this play. Most interesting is Charles Edelman’s book Shakespeare in Production: The Merchant of Venice, where he gives an historical outline of different productions and compares them to each other. Kenneth Rothwell gives a list and comments on film adaptations of the play. He registers nine Merchant film productions (1910 -1995) in his filmography. Combining this literature and additional materials I have compiled a list of 24 entries on films of The Merchant of Venice, nine of which are silent films (mostly excerpts of a theatrical performances) made before 1927; five of them are adaptations in a language other than English, and the last two entries refer to Don Selwyn’s Māori film adaptation and Michael Radford’s recent movie (2004) with Al Pacino as Shylock. For the entire list see Appendix One.

[5] Michael Anderegg defines the heritage film genre as ‘films from the late 1980s and 1990s whose setting and style are thought to support an essentially conservative agenda [and] capture aspects of the British Empire at its height in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras’ (2004: 36).

[6] See Sonia Massai’s recent publication World-Wide Shakespeares: Local approriations in film and performance, which includes four essays on The Merchant of Venice, two of them referring to diverse European adaptations, and the others, contrastingly, to non-European (Mexican and Māori) appropriations.

[7] For further information on Shakespeare in India see Trivedi and Bartholomeusz. Shakespeare in post-colonial South Africa is consulted in Natasha Distiller’s book South Africa, Shakespeare, and Post-Colonial Culture.

[8] I have borrowed this term from the Shakespeare Quarterly issue 52.4 (2001), which comprises essays presented at the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Shakespeare Association in Auckland in July 2000. The conference’s focus was on ‘Dislocating Shakespeare.’

[9] This classification is taken from Poonam Trivedi’s essay “Reading ‘Other Shakespeares’”, which refers to an Indian Shakespeare performance of King Lear in the Marathi language. She refers to the aspects of ‘other’ texts, ‘other’ bodies and ‘other’ sites. As I include the Māori language, as well as the significance of music, dance and the subtitles in the film, I prefer to speak of ‘languages’ instead of ‘texts’. Furthermore, as I regard the film as a transcultural artefact that overcomes the notion of ‘us’ and ‘them’ I have changed the expression ‘other’ into ‘transcultural’.

[10] In racial discourses of Colonialism the concept of hybridity had negative connotations and was seen as the negative opposite of ‘assimilation’, as the cross-cultural influence of the Native to the European was seen as a ‘degradation of European racial essence and superiority’ (Bell and Matthewman 2004: 124).

[11] The term ‘glocalization’ is borrowed from Roland Robertson, who takes this formulation from the Japanese word dochakuku, indication ‘global localization’ (1995: 173).


[12] This term is borrowed from Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture.

[13] References to the English prestige of Shakespeare and the Bible in New Zealand’s settlements can be found in Frank Sargeson’s essay ‘Shakespeare and the Kiwi’ published in New Zealand’s journal Landfall 18 (1964): 49-54.

[14] Cf. Brydon and Makaryk 2002:2.

[15] Cf. Trivedi 2003: 62.

[16] Cf. Wright 2003: 2.

[17] Cf. Brissenden 2000: 241.

[18] For more information on Shakespeare around the globe see the website of the Internet Shakespeare Editions of the University of Victoria <>.

[19] McNaughton lists two performances of The Merchant of Venice in his New Zealand Annals: Christchurch, 1900-1919, compared to five entries on Hamlet, and four on Othello.

[20] A situation that New Zealand shared with Australia, where also the relationship between the desired Britishness of Shakespeare clashed with the colonial culture. The 1930s reveal a shift towards a regional identity in Australia, and from the 1950s onwards the Australian attitude to Shakespeare had moved beyond the Britishness (cf. Golder and Madelaine 2001).

[21] Cf. the sudden increase of ‘modern’ Shakespeare productions at this time and the trend of making motion pictures – the new medium – like Svend Gade’s cross-dressing Hamlet (1920) starring Asta Nielsen.

[22] More details on Shakespeare performances in New Zealand are given in the newsletter of the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand Inc., which has been published every two/three months since 1991. Concerning modern MV productions it mentions one production that was set in the 1920s and performed in a Catholic cathedral in Wellington (SGCNZ 23(Feb 1998): 2-3) or one outdoor production in the Mona Vale gardens in Christchurch (SGCNZ 50 (Mar 2005): 10).

[23] This modern Shakespeare adaptation by Oscar Kightley and Erolia Ifopo was staged in New Zealand’s main cities. It was performed outdoors and for free. Therefore it attained a large non-mainstream audience, targeting in particular indigenous peoples. Romeo & Tusi turns Shakespeare’s tragedy into a romance with happy ending, where Anaru Heke (the Māori Romeo) and Tusi Aiu (the Samoan Juliet) succeed in reuniting their families. This innovative production ‘contrives to be both hilariously ‘local’ and movingly ‘Shakespearean’ (Houlahan 2002: 118-9).

[24] Some authors mention that Te Hurinui Jones also translated Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream into the Māori language. However, this is incorrect information taken from the Media Kit which can be found on the website of The Māori Merchant of Venice/ Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti. Librarians of different libraries, which maintain a special Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones collection, have assured me that there is no reference to such a translation (cf. Parsons 2006).

[25] The Treaty of Waitangi is considered the foundation document of New Zealand as a nation. It was signed in 1840 by 500 Māori chiefs and by representatives of the British government to give, on the one hand, the sovereignty of New Zealand to the Queen of England, and on the other hand, to guarantee the Māori chiefs control over their land, forests and fishing grounds (taonga) and to give them the same rights as British citizens. Yet, as there are two versions of the Treaty – a Māori and an English one – there has been much controversy about the differing content of the translations, and it is still the object of political debates (cf. Walker 1990: 90-7).

[26] The lack of advertisement was mentioned in the newspaper Te Iwi O Aotearoa which published some comments of radio reporter Hoana Mitchell, who stated: ‘My only wish is that publicity should have been given at least 3 months earlier. Many schools did not know it was on and many tauiwi did not know they were welcome’ (1990: 5).

[27] Lisa Warrington refers to the important contribution of Theatre Marae to the International Festival of the Arts in Wellington and points out the development of the Māori theatre group Te Rakau Hua O Te Wao Tapu (‘The Blossoming Fruit Tree of Our Sacred Grove’). She also lists the performances of the new Māori plays of John Broughton, Bruce Stewart, Taiao and Whetu Fala in March, of Apirana Taylor in May, Riwia Brown in August (her play Te Hokina – The Return won the title of Best Māori Play at the Wellington Critics 1990 Theatre Awards), and Roma Potiki’s play performed in October. All these plays were staged at the Taki Rua Depot Theatre in Wellington.

[28] The journal Shakespeare Quarterly notes performances of The Merchant in Japanese, Italian, Indian and Hebrew already in its earliest issues of the 1950s. Compared to Australia, New Zealand has outstripped its neighbour, where the first indigenous Aboriginal Shakespeare production was staged at Sydney’s Festival of the Dreaming in 1997 (cf. Brissenden 2000: 257). However, it is problematic to compare these two indigenous cultures, as the Aborigines are still a minority in Australia who have not yet gained equal rights and status as the Māori have in New Zealand, who can draw on the Treaty of Waitangi as a right to be equal citizens and the tangata whenua of Aotearoa New Zealand.

[29] Lisa Warrington presents a programme note of Marae by Māori playwright John Broughton from March 1992, where he states: ‘Theatre Marae is essentially a hui, a gathering of people to share in a whole-of-life experience. The business of the particular hui is to present to the manuhiri/audience the event; a play, dance work, music, workshop or just plain korero/talk. The event is certainly the focus of the hui but what is equally as important is the protocol/ritual that encompasses the presentation of the event, and accords the manuhiri the courtesy of the traditions of the Marae …] Theatre Marae taps that middle ground between the Theatre and the Marae and in doing so creates a platform for its work that is accessible to all the peoples of Aotearoa’ (1994: 40).

[30] The Depot Theatre was established in 1983 to promote New Zealand’s cultural identity and offered a chance for ‘alternative theatre forms’ to perform their productions. In 1991 the name was changed to Taki Rua Depot-Theatre, taki rua meaning ‘to go in twos’ and referring to the relation of Māori and Pākehā. In 1997 the name was changed again to Taki Rua Productions, as the theatre changed into a touring company. Since then they have been performing productions in Aotearoa as well as internationally, with a focus on Māori and Pacific culture (cf. <>).

[31] Wī Hekepia is the Māori translation for William Shakespeare.

[32] Sisson refers to different Shakespeare performances that were produced in India when it still was a British colony. He points out that the two traditions that coexisted at the same time. The ‘purist’ productions which were performed in English in established theatre venues, and ‘appropriative’ productions which were rather performed in non-Anglophone languages combined with cultural elements distinct to the local performers (cf. Sisson in Loomba 1997: 124).


[34] Melanie Wall uses this headline for her Masters thesis. It is borrowed from the title of a poem that was cited in Walker 1993: 235-6. The full-length poem is displayed in Appendix Two.

[34] For more information on cultural identity and ethnicity of other indigenous peoples and their struggle for self-determination see Linnekin and Poyer 1990; Gunew 1990.

[35] The Social Report 2005, (published every year by the Ministry of Social Development), provides information on New Zealand’s cultural identity. The report shows that 15 percent of New Zealand’s population are Māori; yet only 25 percent of all Māori can actually converse in te reo Māori (Social Report 2005: 16, 87).

[36] The Social Report 2005 shows that ethnic diversity is increasing in New Zealand. 44 percent of all Māori identify with at least one other ethnicity and there is a tendency of younger people to identify with more than one ethnicity (Social Report 2005: 16-7).

[37] The concept of a cultural variability is not a new one, as in 1961 the American Psychologists Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck had already developed a theory on cross-cultural interaction with a similar topic of universal human values to better understand the core differences of cultures (cf. Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck 1961).

[38] A first version of Wolfgang Welsch’s concept of transculturality is published under the title "Transkulturalität - Lebensformen nach der Auflösung der Kulturen" in: Information Philosophie 2 (1992). 5-20. I refer to his revised German article published in 1994 in Sichtweisen. Die Vielheit in der Einheit, and to a later revised and complemented English version of 1999 published in Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World (cf. Bibliography).

[39] This term is borrowed from Benedict Anderson.

[40] In the journal ARIEL (A Review of International English Literature) Fengzhen and Xie state that the major aspect of all debates about globalisation concern the consequences of the interaction between the local and the global, that is, the transformation of local or indigenous cultures under the impact of the global flows of capital, information, ideology, values and technology’ (2003: 2). They point out three different positions on globalisation – universality, i.e. that globalisation is a process of unification or Americanisation towards a global ‘world culture’ based on Western values (Fukuyama 1992); particularity, i.e. globalisation creates cultural difference and diversity (Huntington 1996, Barber 1995), and a third position (Robertson 1996) that combines the first two and tries to reconcile global and local aspects (cf. Fengzhen and Xie 2003: 1-13). Although there have been countless articles written on the phenomenon of globalisation, it seems that this third position has become the prevalent attitude nowadays. In his latest book Guillermo de la Dehesa describes the development of globalisation as a kind of ‘love-hate relationship’ as many people admit to the process of unification/Americanisation, but at the same time wish to protect their own local identity, as it is the nature of human beings to be different to everybody else. He sees the result of globalisation as people’s ‘superficial acceptance of the process, yet deep down the reaction [to it] is quite hostile’ (2006: 171). This thesis shares de la Dehesa’s opinion on the ‘superficial acceptance’ of the universal effect of globalisation, but sees the argument of an unsympathetic reaction only as an exception (represented by traditionalists and activists) and not as norm. This research paper supports Robertson’s idea of globalisation as the ‘universalization of particularism and the particularization of universalism’, yet goes a step further and claims this position resulting in transculturality, meaning that through the interaction of ethnic identities, of knowledge and technology, culture is positively effected in creating new global spaces for minority groups while upholding their local identities.

[41] Under New Zealand law, Māori rights apply only to those people who can verify their Māori descent, i.e. after the ‘traditional’ definition of identity only those people with Māori heritage can register for the Māori roll policy which leads to regular withdrawals of those who claim to be Māori, yet cannot prove it (cf. Butcher 2003: 37).

[42] This can be explained as the Māori Renaissance only started in the 1970s and during the first decades a rather activist attitude towards identity was held by Māori in order to differentiate themselves from Pakeha culture and to trace back their own roots reviving their traditions and culture. At this stage the influence of colonialism and modernism had changed Māori cultural identity to such a degree that activists’ perception of ‘Māoriness’ only applied to a small number of Māori people. It has taken the following years to establish a new concept of a transcultural/ hybrid understanding of identity; and it is still going to take more time for Māori and Pakeha to actually assume this way of thinking.

[43] Te Hoe Nuku Roa was launched by Māori professor Mason Durie. More information on this project can be found on the websites of the Massey University and of the New Zealand government of ‘ Foundation for Research, Science and Technology ’ (FRST) (cf. references in the bibliography).

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Shakespeare as Transcultural Narrative: Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti - The Maori Merchant of Venice
Technical University of Braunschweig  (Englisches Seminar)
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Shakespeare, Transcultural, Narrative, Tangata, Whai, Rawa, Weniti, Maori, Merchant, Venice
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Magistra Artium Claudia Stehr (Author), 2006, Shakespeare as Transcultural Narrative: Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti - The Maori Merchant of Venice, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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