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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Ethnic Diversity in a Global Economy: A Case-study of Maori Self-determination

Ann Sullivan.

Globalization promotes free-trade, competition and minimal state involvement in the lives of its citizens. There is evidence to suggest that the globalization forces of the last 50 years have lead to marked improvements in convergence of living standards for a large number of countries, similar to the process observed in the 1850 to 1914 period for several economies in the Atlantic region. It has also been established that in both these historical episodes the shares of the gains from globalization across different social groups have been quite uneven. This economic disparity appears to correlate significantly with race and ethnicity. Such marked inequities led to the political backlash and the de-globalization of the 1915 to1950 period. They also present a major risk to the sustainability of the current globalization process. The New Zealand government strongly supports the globalization principles and rapidly moved from a Keynesian welfare state to a very liberal economy. These freedoms also led to increased insecurities in the workplace, particularly in the blue-collar occupations where companies have shifted their production lines overseas to low-wage economies. Although Maori unemployment is higher than it was prior to the economic reforms of the mid-1980s, the liberalization process provided space for a more self-determining Maori identity in New Zealand. This paper studies income distribution trends across ethnic groups, viz. Maori vs non- Maori/European, in New Zealand paying particular attention to the impact of the free market reforms of the mid-1980s. In addition, using data from the 1999 New Zealand Maori Election Study Survey, this paper discusses issues of governance and politics in a time of increasing tension about globalization, focusing on representation, participation, social and economic policies in relation to Maori self-determination in the global economy.


Ann Sullivan  (New Zealand)
Associate Professor
Maori Studies
The University of Auckland

  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • Maori
  • Globalisation
  • Income distribution
  • liberalisation

(30 min Paper presentation, English)