Time to Reimagine Symbols of Identity
“What’s with those jandals, hokey pokey ice-creams, buzzy bees, Swanndris and gumboots? Far from being random and unrelated objects, these icons of so-called Kiwiana tell a story of late 20th-century nostalgia at a moment of rapid social transformation,” Katie Pickles, Professor of History at the University of Canterbury writes in an opinion piece for The Conversation.
“Definitions of Kiwiana vary and the term is widely applied to objects, expressions and pastimes that evoke a sense of national identity,” Pickles writes. “But, as sociologist Claudia Bell has argued, it’s an identity where Pākehā culture is dominant.
“When including Indigenous content, Kiwiana has occupied a largely aesthetic and apolitical place. The focus has been on flora and fauna, such as the kiwi itself, the silver fern, koru and pāua shell. Māori incorporation within Kiwiana involves myth-making, traditional costumes and objects such as kete, poi and tiki.
“In the 2020s, then, Kiwiana is arguably no longer fit for purpose in a diverse, decolonising nation. Yet these relic symbols persist, part of art and culture in schools and still selling products.”
Original article by Katie Pickles, The Conversation, January 1, 2021.