Conal McCarthy
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Carving out a place in the better Britain of the South Pacific
Maori in New Zealand museums and exhibitions
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This chapter presents detailed empirical evidence of Maori participation, which shows that, by engaging with museums, they saw themselves as partners in colonial development and not merely as victims of it. Maori participation in museums and exhibitions was therefore part of an overall strategy to become part of the nation, the empire and the modern world. The chapter reviews the international literature, which calls for a more historicised approach to museums and empire, and New Zealand research which points to the specific local experience of empire as a 'middle ground' between coloniser and colonised. Makereti's troupe including some well-known chiefs and carvers travelled to London for the Festival of Empire, where T. E. Donne was now working in the New Zealand Trade Commission. The Better Britain of the South Pacific was 'more British than the British' but frequently presented itself with Maori symbolism to distinguish itself from other colonies.

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Curating empire

Museums and the British imperial experience


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