Exploring New Zealand

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Exploring New Zealand: Its Geography, History, Literature, and Culture

Over the months of November, December, and January 2011-2012, my husband, Chris, and I backpacked across the beautiful country of New Zealand. Most people know New Zealand as the home of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings (and yes, this played a major role in our decision to travel there), but soon after landing we came to realize that this country has a much more complex and interesting identity than that. 

The picture shown above, taken in Akaroa in the South Island, shows New Zealand's interesting history of the interactions between Pākehā (ethnically European New Zealanders) and Māori (the indigenous peoples of New Zealand). It shows a Christian church (notice the cross on the spire) that it is decorated with traditional Māori carvings and a pou whenua (or land post, similar to a totem pole). These cultures have a long and contested history, full of bloodshed and power struggles, but also cooperation and understanding. Today both Māori and Pākehā cultures exist side by side, not always in harmony, but in mutual respect.

Just last month I completed my MA Thesis on the New Zealand short story. This project allowed me to delve deep into the literature, history, culture, and politics of the country. I hope to use the Film Annex platform to share some of my knowledge of New Zealand and its history, culture, and people. You can expect to see pictures, videos, travel tips and information, as well as readings of New Zealand books and short stories. I invite questions and comments, and I hope you enjoy!



About the author

rlacasseford

Rachel is a graduate student at Purdue University. She is completing her MA is English Literature, with a focus on Postcolonial Studies. She is also a freelance editor, writer, and composition instructor.

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