The Planetary Pakeha

by vivian Hutchinson

published 1991 25 min read download as PDF



I am vivian Hutchinson. Born and brought up in Taranaki, where I still live and work. I love my mountain and can't imagine being away from it for too long.

I'm a fifth-generation Pakeha New Zealander, my great-great-forebear with the Hutchinson name having come to this country with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment. His wife was from an English coal-mining community. On my mother's side my male ancestors derived from poor Scottish farming immigrants of the McIntyre name, who brought up big families and worked the soil here. As family reunions have shown me, my ancestors' blood has well and truly mixed with that of the tangata whenua of these islands and I have many Maori distant cousins.

I'm from a family of four brothers scattered over this country. My father worked during his life as an engineer and a manager of a wire firm servicing farms in Taranaki. He died when I was eighteen. My mother has married again and is retired to the harbour's edge near Whangarei.

One of my brothers fought in Vietnam and was a leader in the South Island Territorials, but now grows carnations in a thriving business. Another has worked for years in soil and water conservation issues for various authorities in the South Island, and farms goats. The third has worked in surveying and also for himself, and more recently has spent many years on the dole happily raising his kids. I am a gay man and presently live with my love and partner in life, Tony Hansen, in the Westown suburb of New Plymouth.

My vocation is trying to make a difference. I used to think I was a community worker. Now I think of myself as a social-change worker. I won't pretend to be very successful in my vocation, but I believe I have persistence.

I am particularly interested in making a difference to unemployment and the future of work. I see how this also relates to poverty and deprivation in New Zealand and questions of the future of the welfare state. I am also interested in bringing more love into economics. And I have been working on these issues in one way or another since I left secondary school in 1973.

In doing something about these things, I have helped the Salvation Army run its work schemes in Taranaki, and I now work as community adviser to the Taranaki Work Trust, helping manage a variety of projects aimed at the unemployed. I help people to start up their own businesses, and teach the skills of enterprise. I write.

I am fatter than most people, weighing in at nineteen stone. I have my front teeth missing. I love swimming at Back Beach near our Sugarloaf Islands. I particularly enjoy watching music on television, and every now and then I'll learn a song for myself. I read the Dominion and especially like the Doonesbury cartoons on page two.

I am a friend and keen supporter of the Tauhara Centre in Taupo and go there quite often. I try to contribute to its mission of creating a place where people of differing viewpoints and methods of working can come together in a search for truth, goodwill and understanding.

I am writing this chapter while taking a break in the Tauhara chalet, overlooking a clear and blue summer's lake.



I call myself a Pakeha just because it feels right. I like it as a superficial label. It tells me I am primarily of European descent but have a special relationship with these islands. I am also wary of the label. I have never felt good about fences, particularly fences of identity. I seem to contain too many impulses that shout otherwise.

I have also never felt good about people making assumptions about me just because I am wearing a cultural label. I have been hurt by assumptions made of me . . . and know I have hurt others by the assumptions I have made about them. Labels don't help.

But thinking of myself as Pakeha certainly means something to me.

It means all the things I have learnt about being a human being from attending kindergarten, primary, intermediate and secondary schools, the Anglican Church . . . being brought up in a fairly middle-class family, watching lots of television, playing sport as a youngster, watching my brother go to war and my uncle have a beer at the RSA, discovering how things worked through inventions and new technology, learning the ins and outs of family businesses, observing the festivals of the year at Easter, Christmas and on Anzac Day.

These things are the inheritance of my parents, my family and the context that I grew up in. And when I was growing up, these things all gave me an identity map which I never really had the capacity to question.

I sure as hell did start to question things as soon as I left home, however. To some extent it was the fashion of the day. I remember at age eighteen reading James K. Baxter when he summarised the Calvinist doctrines behind our Pakeha way of life with four commandments: Work Is Good, Sex Is Bad, Do as You Are Told and It Will Be All Right, and Don't Look Too Deeply into Yourself.

Sure, from the distance of now being thirtysomething, it's very much an oversimplified condemnation . . . but in my teenage years it seemed a pretty good summary of what I was rebelling against.

Fortunately at the time, I quickly realised that part of being Pakeha also meant the freedom to say 'stuff you' to all of this. In the early seventies there seemed to be an entire youth culture saying exactly that. So when I left home I got on with my own journey, which led me to discover the gifts of many of the different ways of living on these islands and on this planet at this time. Even though I have ended up with a lifestyle and view of who I am that is very different from my parents' and the way of life they handed on to me, I still call myself Pakeha. It is a label of preference. And I hope that when I meet people we can both greet our preferred labels . . . and somehow also get beyond them.



I don't deny the gifts I receive from being Pakeha. They are many and varied. It's just that I'm the sort of person who is going to pick and choose the gifts I want to hold close to myself. Some of the gifts I can indeed treasure. Others I have some trouble with.

Some of the things about being Pakeha that I am proud of include our love for this land, our links with Britain, Jesus and the Christian teachings, symphony orchestras, musicians like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Sting, composers like Mozart and Bach, reading John Mortimer, art galleries, shopping, mystery serials on television, Woolworths supermarkets, Ford Falcon stationwagons, Footrot Flats, Prince Charles, hippies, the New Age, the circus, being in business, camping at the beach, and the Labour Party.

Some of the things about being Pakeha that I don't feel so good about include the continuing legacy of injustice between Pakeha and Maori, the way we gay people get treated, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and now the Gulf, bureaucracy, unemployment, the cutting down of native trees and the pollution of our rivers, and the Labour Party.



I used to think culture was to do with what we believed in and what we did with each other, and who we celebrated and valued: rugby, Jesus, the Queen, Labour Day, the Concert Programme, pavlovas, Mark Todd, a good beer, patchwork quilts, KZ7 and the Bank of New Zealand.

It's like we pull all these things around us like a cloak and they somehow define who we are. Our leading writers and television ad people use all these images to describe us, and politicians use the prevailing concepts to define policies that will suit us and keep us voting for them.

But lately I have been wanting to take a few steps back from this and ask myself: What's the purpose of culture anyway? Do I belong to my culture, or does it belong to me? Who decides the rules of what's right and wrong? Are articles and books like this part of some insidious process of defining and therefore later controlling our images of who we think we are?



We've all been talking about this culture and identity stuff quite a bit lately, haven't we? I put it down to '1990' and celebrating the hundred and fifty years of the Treaty of Waitangi, as well as other various anniversaries. It just kept on bringing things up for us all to chew over. And not before time, either.

The 1990 concert at Bastion Point, grand opening ceremonies at the Commonwealth Games, the Queen at Waitangi, the waka, Gallipoli Anzac celebrations, Kiri in the park, the ANZ 'Magic Minutes' on television . . . it's all been a real mixed bag, struggling for that elusive consensus on who we think we are.

As I write, it was only just last year. And, looking back, we seemed to be having two discussions at once on what it was to be a New Zealander.

First there was the official and polite discussion, which was full of television propaganda: images and music of the victory of the New Zealand identity, and how Maori and Pakeha were getting on so well.

But behind all this there was this tentative, almost embarrassed exploration I seemed to be witnessing almost everywhere else whenever the subject of 1990 came up. Here people talked about just what Kiwi identity at this hundred-and-fifty-year report card point is bringing up for them. And it has brought up some unsettling pictures of challenge and change.

Treaty issues, one in nine people officially out of work, the widening gap between rich and poor, the knife going into our visions of the welfare state, the GATT talks in Brussels breaking up, overcrowded prisons, a man in Aramoana going berserk with a gun, war in the Gulf . . . these are the images many of us carried with us into 1991.



I don't know about you, but I seemed to be surrounded by people who found that 1990 didn't reflect who they felt they were. Perhaps the television picture-streams and accompanying sound-tracks were more a picture of who we thought we should be rather than the reality of who we are. If you just think for a while about all the different people you know who are also New Zealanders and share your life and never appeared in those video-montages of self-identity, you'll have a sense of what an impossible job it is to get a picture of our wholeness anyway.

And that's okay!

In fact I think that that is the point.

The point being that our vision of what it is to be a New Zealander is leading to more and more diversity as the years go on.

And this brings with it its own struggle . . . the struggle to develop an image of ourselves that holds together and honours all these scattered pieces.



Difference. That's the terror of all this culture stuff.

And it seems to be the constant challenge to human beings everywhere . . . how on earth do we grow up enough inside ourselves to really cope with the difference within and between cultural labels?

I for one have always been fascinated with discovering the variations on how to be a human being. When I was nineteen I took out a weekly subscription on one of those Marshall Cavendish build-your-own-encyclopaedia magazines called The Family of Man. I wished it was called The Family of People, but I still bought it and loved it.

Every week there was a profile of at least a dozen different racial groups or cultures . . . their history, their lives today, their customs and attitudes. It was superficial but fascinating. And for me it was a little humbling to start to get a sense of humanity on its fuller diversity.

But while collecting the information on difference is one thing, having to live with it is another.

Difference is the thing that can bring up our greatest fears, vulnerability and insecurity . . . the deep gut feelings of Other that can arise when we are confronted with another culture, or a hidden subculture within our shared life. It's a feeling that can strike you unawares . . . can make you do the most regrettable things. Hasn't the longest part of human conflict been fed from this raw place?

It would be easier to have a unity . . . easier to have consensus . . . easier to have an assimilation that can absorb all those rough-edges that make people different from one another. But I don't think we ever really did have a time like that . . . nor do I think the future holds such a time for us.

The challenge has always been obvious to me. We are just going to have to transform our attitude towards difference. I think it starts with esteeming our own unique qualities personally and then seriously thinking about how to treasure the difference in others.

More than this.

I think we can learn to accept the differences we see out there as something that may contain important information for ourselves . . . information for our own journeys and choices ahead . . . information that has yet to be discovered through our present cultural forms.



Perhaps the first time many Pakeha people have to face their own sense of difference, is when they start to interact with the Maori people of these islands. In fact I'd offer the opinion that it is unlikely that many Pakeha people in this country can define themselves without the First People appearing in the wings of that definition somewhere. Not that I think there is anything wrong with that. There's many a time I've sat on the marae and heard an orator define his Maoritanga in terms of how it differed from Pakeha New Zealanders.

There's an essential truth in there somewhere. That it's very much easier to define your identity when you are faced with a striking difference in attitudes, beliefs and protocols such as we find between the two dominant races here in Aotearoa.

And like it or not, Pakeha identity is woven into these differences. Despite all the rhetoric about us all being New Zealanders and tatou tatou, Maori people are not Pakeha. And there are differences there that cannot and should not be put into the common pot.



Perhaps I should just speak for myself.

I am certain my own experiences with Maori people have led me more than anything else to re-examine my identity and look again at my notions of just what culture is. And these experiences are a little different from what my family upbringing would have led me to expect.

It was James K. Baxter who opened the door for me (and many like me) through his poetry and articles, which reflected a synthesis of the two main cultures here in New Zealand. I was reading his stuff while still at school, but I just knew that he was writing something that was deep within me as well.

As soon as I left school I decided to find out more about Maori things, which took me to meeting Matarena Raumati Rau-Kupa, a local Taranaki Maori elder also known as Aunty Marj. She invited me to nearby Parihaka, where together with her husband Pepe Rau she was leading the rebuilding of one of the famous Parihaka meeting houses, Te Niho o Te Atiawa. I loved Marj as soon as I met her, and we found it easy to be good friends, despite our obvious distance in age as well as culture.

What followed for me was a social and spiritual re-education over the next few years, which took place almost fully within a Maori context. Considering the powerful history of non-violent struggle at Parihaka against the government (in the 1880s), it was a compassionate re-education on what it was to be a New Zealander and how to come to grips with some of the darker chapters in our history of race relations.

I moved to Auckland to train as a journalist, and in something of an informal social-worker apprenticeship, I also worked on the streets of the inner city with Maori community workers Betty Wark and Fred Ellis. Betty and I worked on many issues together, some of which led to setting up the Arohanui hostels for street people.

My education in things Maori continued with meeting Whina Cooper and working closely with her whanau in the preparations, staging and strategy of the Maori Land March of 1975. I did much writing and research into Maori Land claims, particularly Bastion Point and the Raglan golf course case.

When I shifted back to Taranaki in 1978, Marj and I organised a seven-year cycle of annual gatherings at Parihaka designed to introduce other Pakeha people to things Maori and explore their own cultural boundaries.

More recently, as someone who now works primarily in the employment and job creation arena, I have naturally continued to have a good deal to do with Maori people, particularly on economic issues and developing self-help initiatives for the unemployed.

With all this behind me, I used to think that because I have had lots of special experiences in a Maori context, I understood Maori people very well. Not true. I am constantly surprised at the ingenuity of many of these people, the fertility of the way the culture absorbs and re-invents itself in so many ways. And that very present difference in attitude that always has been a challenge to me as well as a delight.

I think it's more than this, though.

The more I have had to do with Maori people, I have realised that I wasn't so much finding out about them — I was finding out much more about myself.

This is the identity thing again. Much of my awareness of this was just lying dormant there within me until I ran into a situation of difference, which brought things up to the surface for me to look at.

When faced with things Maori — some of which entranced me, some of which I found I didn't agree with — I certainly had to get my head together on who I thought I was . . . and get clear about those things that were within me. And this brings me back again . . . to culture, and the frames we put around these pictures of our identity.



Culture has never been a static thing. It is an organic dynamic changing pulling pushing collection of bits and pieces that tell us how we are getting on with being human. And these days I am starting to see culture as a strategy for awareness.

I imagine somewhere in our collective history we have discovered things that have worked: an Anglican communion service, the rules of rugby, how to cook steak on a barbie, decorating a Christmas tree, handing out the prizes at a school athletics meet.

They are processes on how to get a job done. They contain all the opinions and beliefs and discussions that have created those processes in the first place. If we continue to do it the same way, it becomes culture. If we pass it on to others or our kids, it becomes tradition. Stick at it long enough and these processes seem to grow into the bones of a people and become incredibly binding and defining of who we think we are.

I say a 'strategy for awareness', because that's what I reckon is behind all this: developing our human awareness . . . finding out what it is to be a human being . . . telling us how to get on with our own stories.

Culture is a way that we have packaged up bits of the collective software on how to do all this, whether it is in questions of sport, spirituality, restaurant etiquette, or in annual festivals. Different people, different times, different places; they have all given rise to different strategies. And these strategies are all a part of the performance of their truth . . . as best as they can be aware of it at the time.

What's happening today is that we are becoming very aware of how other people are creating quite different strategies for getting the same jobs done. And within the broad bands of cultural and subcultural identity labels — Pakeha, American, Maori, country music buffs, lesbian, whatever — there's an enormous diversity. That's the point. This drive for difference. An evolution of human beings based on difference.

It's like the equal drive in the natural kingdom of plants and insects and animals . . . creating more and more diverse species as the march of time progresses over billions of years. What we have ended up with in nature today is an incredibly fragile and irreplaceable bank of genetic information scattered throughout the planet, much of which we are only beginning to understand: a plant in the Amazon holds a genetic treasure that will solve leukaemia, perhaps a weed near Invercargill holds part of the solution to the AIDS virus.

Now it's the same with culture. The different cultures on the planet are driven towards greater diversity, a drive from within each of them. And each of these diverse groups contains valuable information for the human journey — information we are also only now starting to really learn how to understand.



My present map of all this is a keyboard like that on a piano. I like to think of it as the keyboard of potential of how to be a human being.

Different cultures come and seem to dance over certain notes on this keyboard. They keep to certain tunes. They may leave whole sections of the keyboard completely untouched.

When cultures come in dialogue to one another, they share parts of the keyboard they know. They sing the songs they have discovered within them that have grown in response to this keyboard.

Now I don't think there is any such thing as cultural property rights on this keyboard. You may choose to dispute this point of view, but I believe this human keyboard is an instrument that's there within all of us and has all sorts of sounds waiting dormant to be struck and discovered for use.

I was once on the marae with a group of Americans when one of the aunts called out her karanga in that way many of us have heard that makes the air chill and the sound penetrate every bone in your body. The woman next to me said, 'Wow. My gut has just hit the ground. Those Maoris have got something very special here!'

I looked at her and remarked, 'Yes. But it was also your gut that hit the ground. You may not have known it before, but I'll bet you have much the same stuff within you. You may not have struck that note on your keyboard before. But it is there, waiting.'



What's tugging at all this . . . is change.

Rapid change. More change than many other generations of the human race have had to face. Whether it's in the economic, social, spiritual, technological landscapes surrounding us, they are all shifting sands at this time. And it's bringing out both the best and the worst in us.

This constant change makes an equally constant assault on our identities, on our security of who we think we are. That's not comfortable. One of the popular views of culture is that it gives us something solid to hang onto — that way we don't have to constantly think up solutions to our lives. We don't have to constantly question our ways of doing things. Culture can provide a refuge against all these changes around us.

My theory is that it is this desire for a safe place from change, that can quickly throw up the cultural dogmas and fundamentalism that are also very much part of these times. But that's always the problem with refuges. The mobile electric fences that graze the edges of our identities can quickly turn into brick walls.



Dogma — that's the other terror I feel in all this. And I'm sure the change and uncertainties of the 1980s and 1990s are a very fertile breeding ground for all sorts of intolerances.

I have seen it in many old mates who, like me, grew up in a youth culture of rock music, sexual experimentation and regular dosings of marijuana to the brain . . . generally pushing at the edges of who they thought they were. Today many of these friends are also thirtysomething and are committed members of some rather rigid born-again Christian congregations.

I myself have an Anglican background and really appreciate the things I have learned about Jesus and the Christian approach to being a person. But I certainly stop short of agreeing that Jesus is the only way to look at the world and get on with your life. I have seen too many worthwhile bits of wisdom and life-affirming practices from within other religions and spiritual paths to ever accept an attitude that says that one spiritual truth is better than the other.

Not that my born-again Christian friends have a monopoly on dogma and fundamentalism. I think these intolerances are attitudes that can breed in any group of people trying to define themselves . . . and let their electric borders turn to stone. I have certainly seen it amongst the born-again Maori (many of them actually European in blood) who have gone around the social change groups over the last five years trying to promote a version of right and wrong thinking about Treaty issues, and how to be a New Zealander. I also watched in the seventies as whole groups of people started meditating and chanting and some quite rigidly defining who they were in terms of Eastern religions.

I also witness, in the gay and lesbian subculture I am a part of, how some groups here have turned their need for gay visibility and the redress of bigotry almost into a religion in itself, one that dominates and permeates everything they choose to do. And I feel just as uncomfortable about that as I did with the bigotry in the first place.

I'm sure it's to do with fear. Fear of what is outside those fences that define our identity for us. Fear of what it takes within us to patiently build bridges of tolerance and understanding towards those who are somehow different from us. And yes, a heartfelt fear of change and the uncertainty of these times.

One of my dreams for this country is that we as New Zealanders can really work on this one. We are small enough as a country to do it differently . . . to keep a conversation going between all the groupings we have within us . . . build the hard loving that is required to get beyond the dogmatic positions that could be taken on almost everything . . . discover the forgiveness that is essential to moving forward beyond the history of hurts that people of difference have consistently done to one another.

If we get this right, we may indeed grow some treasures here for the world.



Back to the keyboard.

I believe that just as there is a drive for diversity within us, there is also an equal drive for synthesis. When people speak or perform their truths to each other, some of it always sticks. This is a process that today is leading people to make interesting individual choices about who they think they are and want to be seen as in the world.

I think in the recent past the majority of people have just unconsciously followed the expectations of their cultural groupings and walked their familiar keyboard of identity. A man on the marae will say, 'I am a Maori, therefore I think this way about land and the Treaty.' A woman at the Assembly of God church will tell me her Christianity tells her all she needs to know about family life. My Indian friends tell me they feel differently about death because of what their culture teaches them about karma.

Well that's changing. We now have the opportunity to choose these things for ourselves. Actually it's been going on for quite a long time amongst the more individual and eccentric among us, and I think we are going to see very much more of it.

People are gathering into themselves all sorts of experiences from travel, from weekend workshops with overseas speakers, from television and the movies, from the rhythm of world music or whatever. And when they find something within themselves emerging, resonating and meeting with these experiences, they start to realise that this too is them.



I believe the process of synthesis of all this takes place first at the level of the individual. But then it quite quickly moves into a cultural synthesis between groups. And when that happens, some real delights can emerge. We can certainly see this in the present dance between Maori and Pakeha in New Zealand.

What I've been witnessing since the mid-seventies is that many European-based organisations, from schools to churches and political and social change groups, have started to look at the Maori culture for strategies of how to get on with their business. The use of ceremonial welcomes and its accompanying oratory and music are popping up everywhere around New Zealand to begin meetings and conferences, many of which may not even contain a Maori person, but at least salute with respect the tangata whenua of the region where the conference is being held.

This began with people trying to create partnership protocols in national organisations that could obviously include Maori ways of doing things. But more recently I am seeing that many Pakeha people are just preferring to do things this way anyway . . . because it works better for them!



One of the cross-cultural acts of synthesis I have really treasured is the use of whaikorero — an immensely valuable Maori protocol for getting people to talk deeply to one another in a group sharing. I say this because I feel the world is very much in need of ways it can get people to talk deeply to one another, to resolve conflicts, to speak to matters of our collective spirit, to heal.

Whaikorero does this very well. In the meeting house on a marae, after a prayer to begin the night's work, people stand to speak, they usually only speak once, their sharing is seldom interrupted or debated, they'll finish their speech with a song, and someone else will follow them and the whole process can go on all night. When precedence and hierarchy (which are also part of Maori culture) can take a back seat, the quality of whaikorero oratory and the listening that surrounds it certainly puts to shame the turbulent, arrogant and divisive protocols you see at Pakeha meetings with chairmen and secretaries and points of order.

The use of whaikorero has been jumping cultural fences for many years now. When the people of the Tauhara Centre in Taupo were creating a form of talking to each other during their festivals, they were looking for a method of sharing that would encompass and honour the wide diversity of individuals, spiritual paths and cultural groups that come to their meetings. At the time, they looked to the gatherings that Aunty Marj and I were holding at Parihaka and to the whaikorero that took place there. What has followed in Taupo has been a decade of gatherings which have contained evening circle sharings when the friends of Tauhara get together. It is not classic whaikorero but an organic evolution of our own form. And for myself, I can honestly say these evenings have yielded times of dignity, heart talk, stories, wisdom, music and fun that have been some of the most moving times in my life.

This is a synthesis to be treasured . . . the organic growing of future culture. And I think it's time this sort of cross-fertilisation was valued more.



Not that this sort of synthesis doesn't come without its critics. And I have heard them consistently and quite vociferously. Some of my friends have been at pains to point out to me that Pakeha people shouldn't use another culture's way of doing things without their direct permission and their participation. It's a rip-off, they feel, a steal on intellectual, emotional and spiritual levels equivalent to the theft of the Maori land in the last century.

Others are critical that the synthesis they see is just a variety of the Pakeha triumph of individualism, and our consumer passions devouring cultural traditions — like shopping for identity in the mall of human experience.

I can understand where this criticism is coming from, particularly when so many injustices are still outstanding between Pakeha and Maori in this country and are our responsibility to address. I also know how arrogance and superficial understanding can rush very quickly over cultural bridges. It irks me.

But I know what I also see and feel to be good things in this synthesis between peoples. I do not fear the changes this process makes in our visions of who we think we are.

Looking back at our own history, there was a synthesis between the Maori and Pakeha that certainly went both ways even a hundred and fifty years ago. I am very aware from my years at Parihaka that Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi were Christian prophets. Te Whiti's dedication on his tombstone is the Christmas message written in Maori. And I for one have certainly learnt a great deal more about compassionate social action and forgiveness from Te Whiti and his legacy within the elders at Te Niho o Te Atiawa than I ever did from my ministers in the Holy Trinity Church in New Plymouth's suburb of Fitzroy.



New Zealand has always played on a global stage: sending butter and meat to Britain a hundred years ago, Gallipoli itself, the Maori Battalion in the Mediterranean, our athletes at the Olympics or the All Blacks winning the rugby World Cup, the frigate with a Cabinet Minister at Moruroa, the nuclear break with ANZUS — these are the contribution of a small nation to global questions.

And I think that in the 1990s we are going to be asked to reach out much more as we realise that most of the problems in the world are interconnected; and asked for solutions that build bridges between nations, religions, cultures and ideologies. As small as we are, we are perhaps more flexible than most to contribute to this important process.

I think this generation is the first to really feel at a popular level that the planet is one interdependent entity . . . and that the task of this season's human beings on the planet is to get our act together in ways well beyond our national boundaries defined by our backgrounds and history.

Not that we should deny our history or the special things we have grown to believe in and treasure. It's just that we have to get clear about these things so they can be brought into right relationship with planetary needs.



How do we stop war? How do we create enough employment for people? How do we end hunger and deprivation, and house everyone? How do we manage scarce resources? How do we look after the environment or the planet itself? How do we create a way of life that can enable people to get on with their diverse visions for themselves? These are some of the questions that feature in that part of my mind and heart that belongs to a planetary citizen at this time. And they are not just Kiwi challenges. They are challenges facing all citizens of the world in the 1990s.

Our contribution to these questions will be made primarily by a shift in our awareness of who we think we are. That's the importance of all this talk about what it is to be Pakeha, be a New Zealander or whatever.

I would like you to consider that the gifts we think we have as a culture may be part of the developing software of the human race, and could well be our contribution to whatever global fix-it package is required for the 1990s. And because of this global agenda, if we are trying to get clear about what it is to be Pakeha, then we are also going to have to get clear about being planetary Pakeha.

We have already done this to some extent on the peace and nuclear issues. But what are we learning that has planetary importance on the race relations issues? What are we learning on economic and welfare issues? Have we learnt anything special about business? Have we treasures to share about the human spirit?

I suspect we do.



Perhaps this is a journey of self-discovery that is going to have to be taken by every cultural group on the earth at this time. Perhaps now is the time to more formally ask of other cultures: What is your unique contribution to these questions? What are the comparative advantages you carry within the genetic dances of your culture? What is your difference that will make a difference?

These solutions are then to be shared. That's the importance of cultural exchange and feedback . . . travelling to other cultures' marae to find out the truths that they are carrying on behalf of all of us.

If culture is a strategy for awareness, then the earth sorely needs these strategies right now and humanity needs all the awareness it can get to solve the bigger questions of our time.

I am really hopeful about the future of this country. We've got too many opportunities here to get despairing about our lot. And I'm looking forward to the next fifty years, and with it much more of the diversity and the synthesis that will be part of us growing our Pakeha identities.

It's going to be interesting.



VIVIAN HUTCHINSON, born 1955, is a speaker, writer and consultant on employment issues. Formerly a journalist, he has spent much time in the past fifteen years creating community-based employment and training projects.