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Title: Contested Visions of History in Aotearoa New Zealand Literature: Witi Ihimaera's The Matriarch 
Author: Romaine, Suzanne
Date: 2004
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Romaine, S. 2004. Contested Visions of History in Aotearoa New Zealand Literature: Witi Ihimaera's The Matriarch. The Contemporary Pacific 16 (1): 31-57.
Abstract: Competing visions of the past constitute contested historical ground in Aotearoa
New Zealand. The novel as a genre constitutes a strategic site in constructing
national identity. This article illustrates how Witi Ihimaera’s historical novel The
Matriarch (1986) presents a new vision that seeks to displace Päkehä discourse
from its privileged position in articulating the country’s history and national identity.
This transformation from outsider to insider perspective is part of a much
wider movement throughout the Pacific and beyond. As a narrative that validates
a Mäori version of nationhood, Ihimaera’s novel can lay a strong claim to be the
novel of modern Aotearoa New Zealand. Nevertheless, the novel has received
mixed reaction among both Mäori and non-Mäori commentators, especially
within influential critical literary circles. These reactions constitute another sort
of contested ground as they raise issues concerning notions of history, literature,
truth, and fiction, and the relationships among them.
ISSN: 1043-898X
Keywords: Aotearoa, New Zealand, Witi Ihimaera, Pacific literature, nationhood, identity, narration
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.

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