From Academic Kids

Pakeha is a New Zealand English word for European New Zealanders, that is, New Zealanders of predominantly European descent.


The word

The word Pākehā originated in the Maori language. Its derivation remains not entirely clear, but its present usage originated after the sustained arrival of Europeans in New Zealand in the late 18th century. Most likely it derives from either of the words pākehakeha or pakepakehā, referring to imaginary, fair-skinned beings. Some have claimed that the word is a Maori transliteration of "bugger ya" or derives from Maori words for flea (keha) or for pig (poaka), and therefore expresses derogatory implications, but there is little or no etymological or linguistic support for these notions.

Pakeha sometimes appears pluralised in English as Pakehas, but in Maori, the plural is Pakeha: pronouns or definite articles indicate pluralisation. Pakeha is also appearing more frequently as the accepted plural in English.


Common alternate designations for Pakeha in New Zealand include "New Zealand Europeans" or "European New Zealanders" and sometimes "Caucasian New Zealanders" or "white New Zealanders". The term 'white' may have somewhat vulgar connotations, and seldom occurs. Some early European settlers who lived among the Maori became known as Pakeha Māori.

The word sometimes applies more narrowly to just New Zealanders of British or Anglo/Celtic descent. Sometimes it applies more widely to include non-Maori other than those of European descent. A trend exists to apply the term only to New Zealand-born persons of predominantly European descent, but acceptance of this notion remains still far from universal.

European New Zealanders vary in their attitude toward the word "Pakeha" as applied to themelves. Some embrace it wholeheartedly as a sign of their New Zealandness, in contrast to the Europeaness of their forebears. New Zealand author/historian, Judith Binney, is noted for her scholarly writings regarding Maori history. In an interview with the New Zealand Herald in June 2005 she stated she calls herself a Pakeha, saying "I think it (Pakeha) is the most simple and practical term. It is a name given to us by Maori. It has no pejorative associations like people think it does -- it's a descriptive term. I think it's nice to have a name the people who live here gave you, because that's what I am". (Binney moved to New Zealand from Australia when six years old).

However, some people object to the word, claiming it to be derogatory with 'second-class' citizenship connotations. Others, who object to ethnic labelling of any kind, also rejected the "Pakeha" label, claiming that all New Zealand citizens should identify themselves only as New Zealanders, whatever their ancestry or culture.

Cultural identity

Many Pakeha do not readily identify a Pakeha culture. While Maori culture has achieved wide recognition, Pakeha culture tends to be taken for granted as the norm.

Recognised aspects of Pakeha culture often receive the label of "Kiwiana". This includes icons such as the Chesdale Cheese men and the game of rugby. Pakeha and Maori culture together make up New Zealand culture.

Michael King, a leading writer on Pakeha identity, discussed the concept in his books Being Pakeha (1985) and Being Pakeha now (1999).

External links

de:Pakeha mi:Pākehā zh:紐西蘭白人


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