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Māori and Aboriginal Women in the Public Eye

Māori and Aboriginal Women in the Public Eye: Representing Difference, 1950-2000

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Māori and Aboriginal Women in the Public Eye
    Book Description:

    From 1950, increasing numbers of Aboriginal and Māori women became nationally or internationally renowned. Few reached the heights of international fame accorded Evonne Goolagong or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and few remained household names for any length of time. But their growing numbers and visibility reflected the dramatic social, cultural and political changes taking place in Australia and New Zealand in the second half of the twentieth century. This book is the first in-depth study of media portrayals of well-known Indigenous women in Australia and New Zealand, including Goolagong, Te Kanawa, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Dame Whina Cooper. The power of the media in shaping the lives of individuals and communities, for good or ill, is widely acknowledged. In these pages, Karen Fox examines an especially fascinating and revealing aspect of the media and its history — how prominent Māori and Aboriginal women were depicted for the readers of popular media in the past.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-62-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Glossary of Māori Words
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Note on Usage
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    Very few Aboriginal or Māori women became well-known outside their own communities before the middle of the twentieth century. Among those who did become more widely known, two in particular have continued to be remembered, and often to be celebrated. Te Puea Hērangi is frequently remembered as ‘Princess Te Puea’ for her connection with the second Māori King, Tāwhiao Te Wherowhero, whose granddaughter she was. She, however, repudiated the title as an alien one, unknown in Māoritanga (Māori culture or way of life). Even more erroneously, Trukanini is often remembered as the last of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, despite this...

  9. Chapter One
    (pp. 25-48)

    In Australia and New Zealand in the second half of the twentieth century, a great deal of social, cultural and political change took place. This is especially true in relation to Indigenous rights and the status of women. While there had been important Indigenous protest movements and groups formed seeking civil or land rights in the past, protest accelerated from the 1960s and entered the mainstream. Around the same time, a second wave of feminist activism from the 1970s, following the first wave in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, impacted upon the status of women. A number of...

  10. Chapter Two
    (pp. 49-76)

    When Evonne Goolagong won the Wimbledon ladies’ singles competition in 1971, newspapers around Australia announced the result with sensationalist headlines and hyperbole. Aged nineteen and a newcomer on the world stage of tennis, Goolagong defeated the reigning champion, fellow Australian Margaret Court. What was it that made Goolagong’s win such a media sensation? Was it her youth, rural Australian background and unexpected bursting into international success? Was it her beauty, in a sport where a woman’s media profile was and is heavily influenced by her appearance and sexuality? Or was it that she was of Aboriginal descent, the heroine of...

  11. Chapter Three
    (pp. 77-104)

    Besides sports, Indigenous people in New Zealand and Australia sometimes became famous in another area of performance before and during the second half of the twentieth century: the performing arts. In music, singing, acting and other fields of entertainment, a small number of Māori and Aboriginal women became nationally, and sometimes internationally, known. Although this path to success was more well-trodden in New Zealand than it was in Australia, it became more common in Australia from the 1950s. As these women attained success in their chosen fields, their careers and personal lives were often written about in the media, as...

  12. Chapter Four
    (pp. 105-136)

    Works of literature, films, artworks and other products of creative endeavour are often read and analysed in terms of the messages their creators might have attempted to convey through them. In such fields of achievement, where art and politics frequently collide, how were successful and prominent Indigenous women and their works depicted in the print media? How did they represent themselves and their work? What discursive threads were common between depictions of writers and those of filmmakers, and which were different? In this chapter I examine representations of Indigenous women celebrated for their literary and filmmaking achievements, focusing in particular...

  13. Chapter Five
    (pp. 137-172)

    Dame Whina Cooper was, wrote Michael King, ‘the country’s best known matriarch’.¹ An Otago Daily Times editorial after her death in 1994 lamented the ‘loss’ of ‘both a significant figure and an important symbol’, someone who in ‘this age of the celebrity’ satisfied the desire of ‘wider New Zealand, both Maori and pakeha’ for ‘a special figure to respect and love’.² Cooper’s national prominence developed through her lifetime of struggle for Māori people and her visibility as a leader within Māoridom. It is such prominence, accrued through leadership and through social and political institutions, which is the focus of this...

  14. Chapter Six
    (pp. 173-204)

    Sandra Lee (later Lee-Vercoe), who was first elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives in 1993 as the member for Auckland Central, was once quoted stating that ‘when you’re a woman and you’re a Maori and you’re a conservationist you can sort of get the feeling that you’re a three-time loser’. She sometimes felt, she said, as though she ‘belong[ed] to every minority group which was ever invented’.¹ This chapter explores the experiences and print media representations of Māori and Aboriginal women who have entered the political system as Members of Parliament (MPs). The history of the participation of...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 205-212)

    When Cathy Freeman ran for Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000, it was in a vastly different Australia from that in which a young Evonne Goolagong first picked up a tennis racket in the 1950s. While Aboriginal people had protested the injustices of colonisation since European settlement began, protest accelerated across the country from the 1960s, and became more broadly based. For many non-Aboriginal people, the intensification of demands for specifically Indigenous rights during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly for land rights, seemed radical and potentially threatening. Likewise in New Zealand, Māori had sought to have the Treaty of Waitangi...

  16. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 213-242)
  17. Index
    (pp. 243-258)