Volume 79 1970 > Volume 79, No. 2 > Race, identity, and the Maori people, by Dane and Mary Archer, p 201-218
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Race has entered the air over New Zealand. The quality of relations between Maori and pakeha has become a fledgling public issue. As the subject occupies expanding space in the nation's press, critics and champions of New Zealand's version of racial pluralism have begun tentative tilt in a warming debate. And in private conversations a dash of race has been added to previously race-less topics like Rugby, housing, entertainment, crime, economics and education.

Stirred by rumblings from lands beyond her horizons, New Zealand has turned within to re-examine long-held assumptions about her own backyard. People have begun asking questions. Do we New Zealanders have a race problem? What proof is there? If we do have a problem, how bad is it, and what are its likely effects? Should we be concerned enough to do something about it and, if so, what? Can we spare New Zealand the deteriorated situations which have occurred in other pluralist societies?

To begin answering these questions, New Zealand needs fresh and dispassionate appraisals of just how equal the relations between her major peoples are. But what the archipelago needs most is present least. Instead, an inherently murky area is made even more opaque by partisanship, emotion, and rhetoric.

Nowhere is it even agreed that problems exist. Indeed, the official word is that they do not exist or are, at most, “faint traces . . . and nothing to worry about”. 1 And in the public eye, race relations are at least as debatable as the merits of different cars or racehorses.

Ideally, the issue and any subsequent action should hinge only upon evidence. If there is no available or discoverable proof that prejudice and discrimination exist in New Zealand, then the country is entitled to no small measure of self-satisfaction. However, if such evidence does exist, then all excuses for unconcern and inaction must be as evanescent as the Waikato fogs.

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As a subject for study, ethnic relations has snowballed in New Zealand. Counting in 1963, one writer listed no fewer than 151 books and articles dealing with New Zealand's race situation. 2 Most of the literature has been non-empirical, and consists largely of anecdotal, reportorial, editorial, and historical material. For each printed criticism, there has been a defence; for every criticism, a new affirmation. But however provocative, most of these writings have made no effort to be even remotely “scientific” and, for this reason, they will not constitute prima facie evidence for the unconvinced.

The empirical studies of race relations in New Zealand can be numbered comfortably on the ears of several sheep. But their conclusions are impressively consistent.

In an effort to apply projective material to the study of New Zealand race relations, Thompson 3 presented his subjects with matched pairs of pictures. In one picture of each pair, the people were all pakeha; in the other, a key figure was drawn to be a Maori. Respondents were asked to invent and narrate a story for each picture, following roughly the same instructions involved in the clinical TAT. From the replies given to the pictures, Thompson concluded that racial inter-marriage and the work situation were “areas of misunderstanding”. 4 A similar study, using a set of better matched pictures, found that attitudes unfavourable to Maoris increased significantly among pakehas between the ages of eight and twelve. 5

In a study of the racial attitudes of university students, Vaughan 6 employed a seven-item scale of social distance. The item of greatest acceptance was: “I would marry this person”; an item of intermediate acceptance was: “I would accept this person as a boarder”; and an item of only slight acceptance was: “I would accept this person as a visitor to my country”. The study asked each subject to rate 16 national and ethnic groups on the seven-item scale.

Among other findings, Vaughan reported that while 75 of his 80 subjects reported a willingness to marry an Australian, only 35 of the 80 were prepared to wed a Maori. Overall, Maoris were the eighth most preferred of the 16 national groups. But on the question of marriage alone, Maoris dropped to the 11th most preferred. 7

In a study of all the licensed hotels in Wellington, J. E. Ritchie 8 reported evidence for some discriminatory practices in hotel reservations. Eight of 37 hotels telephoned (21.6%) agreed to book a room for a “Mr. Armstrong” immediately after declining to book a “Mr. Takimoana”. 9

J. E. Ritchie also reported the analysis of a 1956 student-conducted survey of 543 Wellington residents. 10 On the basis of a Thurstone-type - 203 scale, 20% of those interviewed were “clearly unfavourable” and six per cent were judged “actively and openly hostile” to Maoris. 11 In addition, 43% of those interviewed would try to dissuade a son from marrying a Maori, and 47% would try to dissuade a daughter from marrying a Maori. 12

J. Ritchie 13 published the results of a survey conducted in Wellington of 98 Maori women and their families. Thirty per cent of those interviewed related incidents (not all of them recent) in which they felt they had been subjected to prejudice. 14

In a more recent study of racial attitudes, Thomas 15 combined stimulus elements from an assortment containing different ethnic, religious, and occupational labels. He found that the white New Zealand students in his sample held more prejudice against Maoris than against Canadians, but less against Maoris than against (East) Indians.

The above review is far from exhaustive. A more detailed survey is found in Thompson 16 and Archer. 17 But though few in number, the import of New Zealand's empirical studies is patent and unmistakable. Folk-lore to the contrary, there is racial prejudice in New Zealand. How much exists, however, is a separate and more difficult question. It is possible (but unproved) that an effort to quantify prejudice cross-culturally would demonstrate that, relative to Americans and South Africans, New Zealanders are living in a less biased society. But the fact remains that New Zealand is not the prejudice-free land which many would like her to be.

Although the evidence for prejudice against Maoris is relatively robust, proof of discrimination is more tenuous. While discrimination is often thought of as only the active state of prejudice, 18 it is known that racial attitudes are not infallibly reflected in behaviour. 19

Many of the studies reported here found some New Zealanders saying that they would discriminate against Maoris. But only one, Ritchie's hotel study, involved a real opportunity to discriminate—an opportunity which a fifth of those involved accepted. A reportorial account of discrimination is given by Harre 20 who summarised the details and aftermath of an atypically blatant instance of racial exclusion in a Papakura hotel.

Despite a minimum of documentary evidence, reports of discrimination persist. In what is certainly the most negative indictment of New Zealand race relations, a visiting Fulbright Scholar offered this opinion: - 204

There is true racial equality, for example, when the employer hires the man best qualified for the job irrespective of the colour of his skin; when the landlord rents a vacant room, flat or house to the first suitable person, white or brown, answering his advertisement; and when people are willing to accept into their homes and judge individuals of another race on exactly the same terms as they would members of their own race. The conditions prevail neither in the northern states of America nor in New Zealand. 21

Given the demonstrated existence of racial prejudice in at least some New Zealanders, the corollary of discrimination is intuitively quite likely. But pending further evidence, the connection between proved prejudice and possibly widespread discrimination remains assumptive. Either way, future evidence may have bearing, as it has in the United States, upon legislation and law-enforcement.


This paper reports research which is fairly circumscribed in scope. Rather than consider molar aspects of the total racial situation in New Zealand, the present study is a preliminary inquiry into the way in which racial aspects of New Zealand's pluralist society are mirrored and interpreted by young members of both the country's races. By studying the perceptions and evaluations that young New Zealanders attribute to Maoris and to whites, this research tries to illuminate what racial symbolism means in the society these adolescents will inherit as adults.

Implicit and requisite to the present study are certain ideas about the development of personality. Specifically, this research is concerned with a single aspect of the total personality: the image an individual maintains of himself. It is assumed that a person's self-image is not arrived at strictly by an intrapersonal “taking stock”—an encapsulated inventory of his accomplishments, experiences, memories, past or current roles, and other narrowly biographical material.

Instead, the concept is more fruitfully used in a social sense. The development of a self-image—the cumulative picture of who one is and what one is like relative to others—is accomplished through an interactive and dynamic process involving witnesses and co-actors. And through direct and subtle channels, these others supply the individual with reactions, judgements, and affective information which serve him as an important reflection of what he seems like to other people.

Through interaction, the child is compared with his sibs or peers by parents. The student is judged relative to his classmates by instructors. The man is judged in company with other men by the women he meets. Each of these individuals is thought of as “bright” only if others are “dull”; as “tall” only if others are “short”; as “handsome” only if others are not.

Because an individual has limited subjective resources from which to define himself, he combines his own sense of himself with the meaning he has come to have for other people. Naturally, the individual's assess- - 205 ment of what he means for others often rests on implicit cues. When a person senses that his friends expect him to be, say, witty or intellectual in their company, he knows that those traits are at least some of what his meaning for them contains. He can then choose to fulfil their expectations, or to thwart them. That is, his behaviour can be either with or counter to the social ascriptions others apply to him, but is always in terms of them.

A possible outcome of this interactive process of “identity formation”, particularly in the case of children, might involve a determinative role of the judgements of others. Suppose a boy is defined as a bully on the basis of a misunderstanding during his first day of school. This becomes an available social role, and may be expected of him or ascribed to him by his teachers and peers. His subsequent behaviour will be perceived through the lens of his prior acts. If the social definitions of what he is like persist long enough, the child may in time come to agree—simply out of a conformal tendency to acknowledge the correctness of numbers. 22 It is only fair to note, parenthetically, that the process could also work positively: a child who is initially labelled (by an accidentally correct answer) as precocious could conceivably receive enough reinforcing encouragement and expectation to affect his performance materially.

We shall use the word “identity” to refer to the concept of selfhood which involves the synthesis of (1) one's own history of oneself and (2) the communicated information about one's cumulative meaning for others. This is modestly different from but largely derivative from Erikson's use of the identity concept. 23

The first source may be thought of as psychologically autobiographic. An individual's personal history is made up of, in part, his early family experiences, childhood events, adolescent issues, and so forth. Of course, none of these components is purely personal, since they involve parents and siblings, but they concern events which are familial, not societal, in scope.

For the purposes of this paper, our attention is better directed at the second, more social, source of identity formation. One part of this social source involves macroscopic roles: Americans abroad are more conscious of their American-ness, and of what American-ness means for, say, New Zealanders. A second part of the social source of identity involves particular historic moments in a society: being an American in 1775 was not at all the same as being an American ten years later.

But identity has another source, one which has become increasingly pivotal and salient. In racially pluralist societies, the individual's racial membership has become a powerful determinant of how the individual is seen and, in turn, comes to see himself.

In America, for example, being black has historically involved a constellation of concrete and psychological penalties. The individual's blackness has a controlling effect on (1) whether teachers expected a right or wrong answer, (2) whether an apartment was “available” or not, (3) - 206 competitive job applications, (4) permissible residential areas, (5) approved social relationships, and (6) even things as small but important as a casual smile or frown.

In addition to discrimination, racial membership has historically meant iron-clad association with racial stereotypes and mythologies. Across cultures, the content has been strikingly reiterative: the non-whites are seen as lazy, happy-go-lucky, naturally rhythmic and musical, prolific, athletically endowed, more violent, erotic and better sexually, superstitious, smiling, unclean, more criminal, and mystically attracted to Caucasian women. As often, the whites are seen as colder, rich, compulsive about work, and successful.

In America (at least until 1963, though some observers detect changes since 24), the penalties for being black and the stereotypes about blacks were sufficiently pejorative to constitute racial prototypes. As used by Erikson 25 prototypes exist in a pluralist society when the beliefs about one race constitute a prescriptive image of the “good” and the beliefs about another form an image of the “bad”.

Of course, even in the United States, the association of racial alternatives with moral ones has not been completely unmixed. But within the contextual values of the total society, the traits ascribed to blacks were unequivocally less desirable than those ascribed to whites.

The penalties, stereotypes and racial prototypes take an inevitable toll. Each new generation of children encounters and acquires the racial prototypes of the surrounding culture. Some communicating mechanisms are formal: the press is perhaps the best example. 26 But by far the more pervasive (and the earlier met) are the communications given by peers, parents and important adults.

The communication (and hence perpetuation) of racial prototypes may occur through a racial epithet overheard from a thoughtless parent, a racial joke told at school, or even from the parents' inevitable explanation of why some children are different in colour.

In addition, communication can take non-verbal forms. The growing child may observe subtle differences in the ways his parents greet visitors of different races; he may observe that tones of respect are reserved for high-status jobs—most or all of which are filled by whites; he may observe that children of different races tend to be disproportionately represented in high or low ability tracks in school.

Through a combination of media, children raised in a pluralist society tend to acquire the racial prototypes their parents held before them. Through socialisation, the beliefs and attitudes of the wider society come to be reflected in the child's interpretation of what racial membership, his own included, means in the world around him.

Racial prototypes are of interest in themselves, but they are not isolated phenomena. For one thing, they can become an intervening variable in ocial interaction. We are learning that the expectations people haves

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about others can actually influence their behaviour—that is, beliefs can function as self-fulfilling prophecies.

In a recent study, pupils whose teachers had been led to expect “intellectual blooming” (a spurious designation based on purely random assignment) actually gained seven reasoning I.Q. points by the end of the school year. 27 In a second study, half the teachers for a group of poverty programme students were led to expect good performance on a symbol learning task; and half were led to expect poor performance. Seventy-seven per cent of the students of teachers with high expectancy learned more than five symbols; only 13% of the students of low expectancy teachers learned more than five symbols. 28

The implications for race relations, though far from fully researched, are relatively clear. If racial prototypes lead teachers, foremen, managers, and others in supervisory capacities to expect poor performance from members of a single racial category, their expectancies may help (if inadvertently) ensure that poor performance actually occurs.

On a related but deeper level, racial prototypes also act to impair the personalities of minority group children. In the process of acquiring the racial prototypes of the wider society, the minority group child generally realises that he is a member of a group which society sees as stigmatised or less desirable than some other. As a means of defence against the bad racial prototype, young minority group children may wishfully attempt to identify with the majority race. But with growing age, the demands of reality compel the child to acknowledge his own racial group. In the process, the minority group child often accepts some of the prototypal undesirability associated with his racial group as a judgement appropriate to himself.

The process apparently occurs early in the child's life. Some American children, black and white, are able to make racial distinctions by age three and by age six or seven, all American children appear able to make racial distinctions. 29 Reflecting the prototypes of the wider society, American children of both races have been found to prefer a white doll to a black doll. 30 In addition, 72% of American white children but only 18% of American black children preferred playmates of their own race. 31 When black five-year-olds were asked to select the doll (of one white, one black) which they looked like, less than half picked the black doll. 32

Although a number of concepts have been advanced to help understand these phenomena, few have achieved the currency of Erikson's notion of - 208 negative identity. 33 Even if the minority child senses that the generic meaning he has for others takes the form of the “bad” racial prototype, he may have no choice (except unrealistic denial) other than to deal with that meaning as if it were factual—to accept the negative identity as his own and as a genuine picture of himself. In the process, the child truncates his estimate of his own worth and lasting harm ensues for his sense of identity. 34

Much of the research on identity issues in minority group children has been developed elsewhere, notably in the United States. But at least one series of studies, that reported by Vaughan, 35 has dealt with young New Zealanders. Using tests designed to measure levels of “ethnic awareness”, Vaughan found that white New Zealand children mastered questions of “identification” (“which doll (or picture) looks like you?”) by age four or five. But Maori children did not master the same tests until nine or ten. Vaughan concludes:

In the age range CA (chronological age) 4-9 Maori Ss fail to show that they are able to identify with figures of the ethnic in-group (in this case, Maoris). In fact, up to the age of six years, more than half of these children think that they “look like” pakehas. . . . It is interesting to note that this trend at the younger age levels coincides with a tendency for Maori Ss to favor pakeha figures on a number of attitude tests (Vaughan, 1964b). 36


This paper reports research on racial prototypes in New Zealand. As a research strategy, we chose to study the problem through the eyes of adolescent New Zealanders. Our intent has been to learn about the perceptions and attributions members of the country's two major racial groups have about each other and about themselves as well.

A corollary of this research is that if racial prototypes do exist in New Zealand, then one may reasonably predict that the dynamic consequences of those prototypes—expectancy effects, self-fulfilling prophecies and negative identities—will obtain in New Zealand as they have elsewhere.

I. Hypotheses

On the basis of informal observation we formulated four related research hypotheses:

  • 1. That white New Zealand adolescents attribute racial stereotypes to members of both the country's major races.
  • 2. That Maori New Zealand adolescents agree with and share substantially the same stereotypes.
  • 3. That whites in the North Island (where 95% of the Maori people
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  • live) manifest the same racial stereotypes as South Island whites. That is, that the content of stereotypes is independent of inter-racial contact.
  • 4. That the stereotypes are value-laden within New Zealand society and taken together constitute the “good” and “bad” racial prototypes, respectively, about the European white and Polynesian Maori.
II. Methods

A. Subjects

The respondents in the study were all third and fourth form pupils in New Zealand public schools, and all were between 13 and 15 years of age. Sex was not controlled. The entire respondent pool was made up of three samples:

  • 1. 266 white adolescents in schools in the central part of the North Island.
  • 2. 118 Maori adolescents in the same schools.
  • 3. 106 white adolescents in a Dunedin (southern part of the South Island) school.

Thus the total number of adolescents involved in the study was 490.

B. Instruments

Inter-racial attributions were assessed by two measures of very different levels of directness. The first given was a projective device called the Racial Apperception Test (RAT). The test was created for the express purpose of making possible an indirect assessment of racial attributions, and has been used previously in inter-racial areas in the urban American North-east. 37

The Racial Apperception Test involves matching one of 16 photographs to a descriptive item. In its New Zealand version, the test included six pictures of Maori men and six of white men. The remaining four pictures were only practice items, and, in the New Zealand version, were those of a male Japanese, an American Indian, a Thai temple attendant, and a New Guinea highlander.

In the selection of pictures for the New Zealand version of the test, every effort was made to reduce visible differences between pictures of Maoris and whites to the single variable of race. With independent assessment each picture of a Maori was matched with the picture of a white on the factors of age, dress, manner, visible life-style, and apparent socio-economic status. In the version used in this study, both Maoris and whites were present as (1) men in tuxedos whose vocations were apparently professional, (2) men in tie-and-jacket who might have been school teachers, (3) men in hard hats and work clothes, and (4) men in completely informal clothes who might be labourers or students. Plate 1 displays the actual photographs used in the study.

With the page of photographs, the adolescents in the study were given a page of 15 brief descriptive items. There were four practice questions (e.g., “This person once hunted buffalo with a bow and arrow. . . . Who - 210 is he?”) and 11 real questions. The real items described people who were (1) a company director, (2) hospitable, (3) happy-go-lucky, (4) a university student, (5) singing and guitar playing, (6) generous, (7) undesirable in the respondent's house, (8) a thief, (9) good at sports, (10) the head of a big family, and (11) willing to give friends a hand without expecting to be paid.

The adolescents in the study were asked to, “Read each question, then pick the picture of the person you think the question is talking about.” Under the null hypothesis, that racial stereotypes are absent, the number of white pictures chosen for any given question should roughly equal the number of Maori pictures chosen for the same item. If racial stereotypes do not operate, differences in choosing should be small enough to be accounted for by chance factors. However, if pictures of the one race are disproportionately chosen to answer particular questions, we may infer that racial attributions and stereotypes mediated the answering process.

The second, more direct instrument was a five-point, nine-item semantic differential test. In this test, three stimulus phrases were used: “I Am”, “Most Pakeha (New Zealand for ‘white’) Are”, and “Most Maori Are”. Each stimulus was followed by nine fairly antonymic pairs. These were: (1) weak-strong, (2) good at sports—bad at sports, (3) happy-go-lucky—serious, (4) hardworking—lazy, (5) crack jokes—don't crack jokes, (6) good-looking—unattractive, (7) stingy—generous, (8) musical—not musical, (9) a failure—successful. On the five-point dot-type scale between halves of each pair, the respondents were asked to circle the position on the scale “at the place on the line which best describes” the stimulus phrase.

Under the null hypothesis, that racial stereotypes are absent, adjectives should not be disproportionately applied to either “Most Pakeha” or “Most Maori”.

C. Administration

The tests were administered by white undergraduate and graduate students in psychology. The tests were given in the students' classrooms, and the test administrators were introduced only as visitors from the University of Waikato. There were few questions, and little confusion or apparent anxiety. When asked after completing the tests, most of the students said they enjoyed the experience.

In response to any questions the administrators said the tests were part of a “survey of third and fourth formers in New Zealand”.

Students were asked to raise their hands as they finished the tests. As each student raised his hand, an administrator came to his desk, asked his age, and recorded it (a) above a hyphen mark on the answer sheet if the student was Maori and (b) below the mark if the student was white. In this way, the race of each student was discreetly paired to his test.

III. Results

The responses of (a) North Island white students, (b) Maori students, and (c) South Island white students on the Racial Apperception Test are shown in Tables 1, 2, and 3. An example may assist interpretation: In the - 211 North Island white sample (Table 1), 47 chose the picture of a Maori as the “company director” and 214 chose the picture of a white. The difference reached significance (by chi-square) at the one-thousandth level.


RAT (Racial Apperception Test) scores of 266 North Island white 3rd and 4th form students:

Description Number of Ss choosing Maori picture Number of Ss choosing White picture Race of Person Chosen
38Company director 47 214 white
Hospitable 129 111
***Happy-go-lucky 200 60 Maori
***University student 46 200 white
***Sings, guitar 231 32 Maori
39Generous 142 108 Maori
***Not like in house 114 56 Maori
40Take anything 123 89 Maori
***Good at sports 21 242 white
***Has big family 177 79 Maori
Give friends a hand 122 133

The asterisks indicate that, for a given description, one race was chosen more than another at the following level of significance:

***Significant at the <001 level

**Significant at the <02 level

*Significant at only the <05 level

Statistical assessment was made using a Chi-square test with one degree of freedom. Discrepancies in the totals for any single description are because of questions either left blank or answered with a practice picture, like that of an American Indian, instead of a white or a Maori.


RAT scores of 118 Maori 3rd and 4th form students in the central part of the North Island:

Description Number of Ss choosing Maori picture Number of Ss choosing White picture Race of Person Chosen
41Company director 20 91 white
42Hospitable 60 43 Maori
***Happy-go-lucky 92 19 Maori
***University student 18 93 white
***Sings, guitar 103 13 Maori
*Generous 60 42 Maori
Not like in house 33 42
Take anything 43 47
***Good at sports 13 102 white
***Has big family 86 19 Maori
Give friends a hand 56 48

The asterisks indicate that, for a given description, one race was chosen more than the other at the following levels of significance:

***Significant at the <001 level

*Significant at only the <10 level

Statistical assessment was made using a Chi-square test with one degree of freedom. Discrepancies in the totals for any given description are because of questions either left blank or answered with a practice picture, like that of an American Indian, instead of a white or a Maori.

The RAT scores of these Maori Ss were compared to those of the 266 North Island white Ss (Table 1). Using a Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient, rho=0.99 and <01. Thus the Maori and white Ss did not differ on their RAT scores.

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RAT scores of 106 white 3rd and 4th form pupils in Dunedin (South Island):

Description Number of Ss choosing Maori picture Number of Ss choosing White picture Race of Person Chosen
43Company director 24 82 white
Hospitable 50 44
***Happy-go-lucky 77 27 Maori
***University student 12 88 white
***Sings, guitar 93 11 Maori
44Generous 62 38 Maori
Not like in home 36 29
45Take anything 56 37 Maori
***Good at sports 11 95 white
***Has big family 74 31 Maori
Give friends a hand 52 49

The asterisks indicate that, for a given description, one race was chosen more than the other at the following levels of significance:

***Significant at the <001 level

**Significant at the <02 level

*Significant at only the <05 level

Statistical assessment was made using a Chi-square test with one degree of freedom. Discrepancies in the totals for any given description are because of questions either left bank or answered with a practice picture, like that of an American Indian, instead of a white or a Maori.

The RAT scores of these Dunedin white Ss were compared to those of the North Island whites (Table 1) using a Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient; rho=0.98, and <01. Thus, the two groups of white Ss did not differ.


White students

The Semantic Differential scores of 35 North Island white subjects.

The scores are given in the form of a t test for the significance of difference between two correlated means. A positive score means that the trait was attributed to “Most Maori”. A negative score means that the trait was attributed to “Most Pakeha”. For example, Maoris were seen as more “Strong” than pakehas; and pakehas were seen as more “Successful” than Maoris.

Trait Score Trait Ascribed To
Strong 4.4308 46 Maori
Good at sports 0.8518
Serious -2.7659 47 white
Hardworking -3.1768** white
Crack jokes 0.0000
Good-looking -1.9656 48 white
Generous 0.6830
Musical 0.8303
Successful -4.7846*** white

Using a t test for the difference between two correlated means, the asterisks shown above indicate:

***Significance at the <001 level

**Significance at the <01 level

*Significance at the <05 level

In the modified semantic differential test, each student gave two ratings, one to “Most Maori” and one to “Most Pakeha”. The appropriate test of significance was a t test between correlated means, and our sample was judged prohibitively large for the data analysis equipment then at hand. With outside advice, we drew two random sub-samples of 35 each - 213 from (a) our North Island white sample, and (b) our Maori sample. The analysis of these sub-samples is shown in Tables 4 and 5. For example, our white sub-sample (Table 4) rated Maoris as more “Strong” than whites by a margin which chance could explain only one in a thousand times.


Maori students

The Semantic Differential scores of 35 North Island Maori subjects.

The scores are given in the form of at test for the significance of difference between two correlated means. A positive score means that the trait was attributed to “Most Maori”. A negative score means that the trait was attributed to “Most Pakeha”. For example, Maoris were seen as more “Strong” than pakehas; and pakehas were seen as more “Successful” than Maoris.

Trait Score Trait Ascribed To
Strong 3.0505 49 Maori
Good at sports 2.4480** Maori
Serious —1.5654
Hardworking —0.8125
Crack jokes 2.3522** Maori
Good-looking —3.2614** white
Generous 1.4457
Musical 2.0593** Maori
Successful —3.7466 50 white

Using at test for the difference between two correlated means, the asterisks shown above indicate:

The semantic differential scores of these Maori Ss were compared to the scores of white Ss (Table 4). Using a Spearman Rank Correlation, rho=0.88, and <0.1 Thus the two groups of subjects did not differ significantly.

IV Discussion

A. General

The results indicate the presence of racial stereotypes in New Zealand. In our study, adolescents of both races attributed certain qualities to Maoris and others to whites. Second, whites of different levels of interracial contact do not manifest stereotypes which are measurably different. And finally, at least as reflected in our data, the distribution of stereotypes appears to constitute racial prototypes.

The characteristics attributed by both races to whites are connected with success, or with avenues to it. “Company director” and “university student” are two of these. By contrast, the qualities attributed to Maoris by both races deal with non-occupational traits or aspects of a perceived group life-style. “Happy-go-lucky” and “generous” are two of these. These differences may be an instance of the ascription of “doing” values to whites and of “being” values to Maoris.

B. Evaluation of Hypotheses
1. Test of Hypothesis 1

The white adolescents in our study did manifest generic notions about what each of New Zealand's racial groups was like (Tables 1 and 4). Whites were perceived as successful and well-to-do, university students, serious, hardworking, good looking, and good at sports (the coincidence of the testing with a big Rugby selection year may have had something - 214 to do with this). By contrast, the white adolescents in our study saw Maoris as musical, lazy, happy-go-lucky, strong, failures, unattractive, and generous. Although between 50 and 100 whites chose not to answer the questions concerning people who might “take anything left around” or who would be unwelcome in their homes, those whites who did answer saw Maoris as potential thieves and as relatively undesirable in their homes. The data support Hypothesis 1.

2. Test of Hypothesis 2

This hypothesis predicted that Maori adolescents would share the racial stereotypes held by their white peers and, substantially, they did (Tables 2 and 5). Using a Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient to compare the Racial Apperception Test scores of white and Maori respondents (Tables 1 and 2), rho=0.99 and <005. The same test, was repeated for the semantic differential tests of white and Maori students and there, rho=0.88 and <01. The data support Hypothesis 2.

Although the overall pattern and relative strengths of stereotypes appears to be the same in Maori and white adolescents, there were some noteworthy differences: (a) Maori students rated Maoris as significantly hospitable; white students did not, (b) for Maori students, no one race was significantly identified as likely to be a thief or as unwelcome in their homes.

3. Test of Hypothesis 3

This hypothesis predicted that variable inter-racial contact would not make the stereotypes held by high-contact whites unlike those held by low-contact whites. As a comparison between Tables 1 and 3 shows there was no significant difference between the Racial Apperception Test patterns of North Island whites and those of South Island whites (rho=0.98, and <01). Hypothesis 3 is seen as supported by the data. This finding is of some interest, since Dunedin whites are roughly as personally familiar with Maoris as most American whites are with American Indians. Yet in both cases, stereotypes about the minority group exist (Maoris are “musical” and Indians “can't hold their alcohol”), suggesting that the content of stereotypes is not dependent on first-hand information.

4. Hypothesis 4

Any effort to evaluate this hypothesis, that “good” and “bad” racial prototypes exist in New Zealand, inevitably allows some room for interpretation and, of course, arguable opinion.

Some of the qualities both races attribute to Maoris are unequivocally “bad”, in any culture, at any time. Both races judged the Maori as unattractive relative to whites, and the judgement of Maoris was even more withering than that of whites (Tables 4 and 5). Both races also saw whites as successful and Maoris as relative failures.

Those whose interpretative set is a pessimistic one might claim that even the apparently favourable traits attributed to Maoris are, in fact, gratuitous. Do whites respect the kind of “generosity” they attribute to Maoris, or do they see it as an improvidence not to be envied? Is “happy-go-lucky” functional within modern New Zealand society, or is it the last - 215 gasp of the noble savage mythology? Is music seen as a Maori accomplishment, or as a genetic gift running in Polynesian veins? Are these descriptions child-like and patronising? Since these questions are not resolvable by the data in this research, they are perhaps best left to the conclusions of those, white and Maori, both native to New Zealand and hopefully more intimate with her innermost racial subtleties.

This discussion would not be complete without some mention of actual cross-racial demographic comparisons, noting that Maoris now represent about eight per cent of the population of New Zealand. Table 6 shows some relevant comparative material, correcting for size where appropriate.

  • Maori men live a mean of 10.12 years less than white men; Maori women live a mean of 13.14 years less than white women. 51
  • 2. Maoris are twice as likely to die in their first year, or at any time from pneumonia and heart disease. They are three times as likely to perish by murder or war, and twelve times as likely to die from tuberculosis. 52
  • 3. Maoris are (at most) one-eighth as likely to become university students. 53
  • 4. Maoris are twice as likely as whites to be arrested and three times as likely to be imprisoned. 54
  • 5. Maoris are one-third as likely to become professionals; one-fifth as likely to become managers or administrators; and one-seventh as likely to become sales workers. 55
  • 6. In 1956, Maoris were one-fifth as likely as whites to earn more than 1,500 pounds annually. 56
  • 7. In 1967, the average number of occupants in a white home was estimated at 3.4; the same figure for a Maori home was estimated to be 5.5. 57

Put in words, white New Zealanders are, in fact, healthier, better educated, “criminal” less often, in higher status jobs, wealthier and in less crowded homes. Therefore, in addition to what is probably part mythology, the prototypal images adolescents have about what racial membership means in New Zealand have some basis in truth. This is primarily a matter for political concern, and can be conceptually separated from the direct effects of racial prototypes: expectancy, negative identity, and feelings of “inferiority”.

For those interested more in prescription than in diagnosis, however, the combined information in Tables 1 through 6 does raise a question of strategy almost as old as multi-racial societies themselves. Since socio-economic inequalities feed into racial prototypes, which in turn produce negative identities and subsequent low-achievement, which in turn perpetuate socio-economic inequalities—what is the optimal point in the cycle at which to intervene in hope of facilitating change?

There is some preliminary evidence that the most effective point of entry into the celebrated cycle of racial inequality is not, as has been previously thought, a blind faith in education as an instrument of increasing good will. Instead, some social scientists now think that a more viable strategy involves a “top-down” approach. That is, it appears that public attitudes on racial matters may follow from and respond to governmental efforts to - 216 raise latent beliefs in equalitarianism to the normative level. 58 In part, this model may explain why American public opinion has become increasingly accepting toward racial integration, following official sanctions, legislations and litigation.


Since racial prejudice is a defect that no multi-racial society appears to have escaped, 59 it is regrettable but scarcely astounding that racial prejudice should be found in New Zealand. The findings reported in this paper confirm earlier reports that some New Zealand whites view Maoris in ways both pejorative and potentially damaging.

But there is another, less intuitive level at which prejudice can operate. We found that Maoris share the racial stereotypes held by whites, even those which are unflattering or hurtful. Whites and Maoris think of Maoris as musical, happy-go-lucky, unattractive and as failures.

Our findings suggest that the Maori must liberate himself not only from the prejudice of whites, but from himself as well. Whatever the source, to the extent that the Maori subscribes to the “bad” prototypal image of himself, he becomes his own oppressor.

In the United States, black Americans have initiated deliberate efforts to overcome racial prototypes and, in the process, to disconfirm them. Newly popular sentiments, like “black is beautiful”, are meant to erode central features of a negative identity which has evolved over several centuries in America.

Whether New Zealand, with racial phenomena that are not totally dissimilar, will witness solutions first tried in other democracies or happen upon programmatic changes uniquely her own is outside the province of our research and in the territory occupied exclusively by present New Zealanders and future historians.


The research for this paper was performed while the authors were Fulbright Scholars at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. However, responsibility for the sentiments and findings reported here is an exclusive property of the authors.

We should like to voice our great appreciation for the mind and guiding hand of the inimitable Professor James E. Ritchie. We also wish to make public our debt to those New Zealanders, Maori and pakeha, who befriended us—their influence runs deep enough for us to mistake it for our own thought. Without these friends, we would still be as ignorant as the foreigners we were that cold and rainy day we first landed in New Zealand.

We are grateful to B. Parsonson and N. Hammid for statistical advice and data analysis.

The pictures used in the study were cut from advertisements and illustrations in pamphlets, brochures, and back copies of several periodicals, including Newsweek (Pacific edition), Te Ao Hou, Te Kaunihera Maori, and the New Zealand Weekly.

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1   Hunn 1960:78.
2   Thompson 1963:57-69.
3   Thompson 1959.
4   ibid:210.
5   Vaughan and Thompson 1961.
6   Vaughan 1962.
7   ibid:90.
8   J. E. Ritchie 1964.
9   ibid:86.
10   ibid:94.
11   idem.
12   ibid:95.
13   J. Ritchie 1964.
14   ibid:80.
15   Thomas 1969.
16   Thompson 1963.
17   Archer 1969.
18   Simpson and Yinger 1965:13.
19   Killian 1952.
Kutner, Wilkins, and Yarrow 1952.
LaPiere 1934.
Reed 1947.
Saenger and Gilbert 1950.
20   Harre 1962.
21   Ausubel 1958:234.
22   Asch 1958.
23   Erikson 1959:23, 89.
24   Archer, Keller, and Higashi 1968:49.
25   Erikson, op. cit.:27-30.
26   Thompson 1953, 1954a, 1954b, 1955.
27   Rosenthal and Jacobson 1968.
28   Beez 1968.
29   Clark and Clark 1947.
Morland 1958.
Stevenson and Stevenson 1960.
Stevenson and Stewart 1958.
30   Clark and Clark, op. cit.
Goodman 1952.
Landreth and Johnson 1953.
Morland 1962.
Radke and Trager 1950.
Stevenson and Stewart, op. cit.
31   Morland 1962.
32   Clark and Clark, op. cit.
33   Erikson, op. cit.:131.
Erikson 1966:236-241.
34   Erikson 1959:88.
35   Vaughan 1964a.
Vaughan 1967b.
36   Vaughan 1964a:48.
37   Archer, Keller, and Higashi, op. cit.
38   Significant at the p<.001 level
39   Significant at only the p<.05 level
40  Significant at the p<.02 level
41   Significant at the p<.001 level
42   Significant at only the p<.10 level
43   Significant at the p<.001 level
44   Significant at the p<.02 level
45   Significant at only the p<.05 level
46   Significant at the p<.001 level
47   Significant at the p<.01 level
48  Significant at the p<.05 level
49   Significance at the p < .01 level
50   Significance at the p < .001 level
51   New Zealand Official Year Book 1968:103.
52   ibid:105.
53   Hunn, op. cit.:25.
54   ibid:34.
55   ibid:29.
56   ibid:31.
57   ibid:128.
58   Pettigrew 1966:714-723.
59   Pettigrew 1960.