Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Unfurling routes of self-determination in Aotearoa New Zealand: The Black Women’s Movement 1978 – 1982

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posted on 2021-11-13, 21:16 authored by Okeroa, Erina

Self-determination is a transformative process of ideas and action. It can manifest in a variety of ways but is often dependent on the meeting of likeminded people, the circumstances they find themselves in, and the energy that fuels them into action. This thesis is a theoretical and empirical exploration of Māori and Pasifika women’s self-determination in Aotearoa via a study of the Black Women’s movement from 1978 to 1982. The primary focus is on the complexities, connections and contradictions of their identification with Blackness as part of an assertion of self-determination and Tino Rangatiratanga (Māori self-determination). Using the indigenous concepts of mauri (life force), whanaungatanga (familial relationships) and the koru (unfurling koru frond), this research shows how their Black identification was an important catalyst for a particular type of self-determination, asserted within the political landscape of both the public and private spheres. Black women often negotiated spaces of activism, making their struggles central to, and an example of, the core values that drive anticolonial activist politics. This investigation adds to current Māori activist literature, by addressing the largely ignored solidarity between Māori and Pasifika women within anticolonial activist movements of the era. Overall, the thesis contributes to a wider understanding of the particular racial and gendered dynamics of social and political movements in Aotearoa.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Shilliam, Robbie; Bargh, Maria