Use of New Zealand Maori (indigenous people) as part of New Zealand's diplomacy: symbolic?

Stream: Panel 49 - Comparative Politics: Nationalism and the Politics of National Identity 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm


The network of diplomatic posts operated by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the Ministry) represent New Zealand on the international stage. Staffed by a combination of diplomatic and locally engaged staff, these posts are New Zealand’s face to the world. A small proportion of the diplomatic staff are of Maori (indigenous) descent. Maori art and imagery are used extensively throughout these posts. This research examines the use of Maori (people, images and practices) in New Zealand’s diplomacy. In particular, how these aspects of New Zealand’s diplomatic practice are used and what is intended or understood by the symbolism inherent in their use. In the context of the wider physical environment utilized by New Zealand’s offshore presence, these issues are considered through the theoretical lenses of diplomatic symbolism, architectural diplomacy, representation and the use of works of art as image building diplomacy. The key interest is in how New Zealand’s bicultural heritage is represented internationally. In addition to document analysis and qualitative material my research is informed by my own position as an insider researcher (as a Maori diplomat). The research contribution will be to knowledge about New Zealand’s diplomatic thought and practice (in particular to address the gap in the literature of how New Zealand has used diplomatic symbolism in relation to Maori to express a collective identity as part of New Zealand’s diplomacy). My presentation would outline the key issues and findings to date.


Nicola Ngawati (Presenter), Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
Nicola Ngawati is an experienced diplomat currently focused on Pacific diplomacy in New Zealand's foreign ministry. Nicola has served overseas in Belgium and the Cook Islands and worked in various aspects of diplomacy. With a background in law, she has practised in both the private and community sectors. Nicola also holds a Masters in Public Policy and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Administration (Management). Nicola is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Government in Victoria University of Wellington. Nicola is of Maori descent (Ngapuhi) and resides in Wellington, New Zealand.