I don’t like being called a Pakeha

I was having lunch all by my lonesome self when two of my colleagues plop down beside me with their lunch. I stop reading my book as I have found that people will continue talking to you regardless of the fact that you’re not paying attention or even interested. So I thought why not just be sociable for once and be polite like how my mother wanted me to be.

So we chatted about inane and not so inane things. For one I have just found out that Nick is not only a model but a budding property manager and is busy renovating a house that was built in 1972. He and his twin brother (with the help of their dad) are doing everything themselves, getting down and dirty with the gibs, painting, insulation doing all those men stuff that men do to a house.

Anyhoo, they asked me where I was originally from and then Jared was commenting how humid it was and how everything just moved so slowly there because of the heat. Then I said “Oh, you’ll get use to it gwailo”. They mocked me for mocking them and then suddenly the conversation went all serious when Jared continued on “Yeah I don’t mind you calling me gwailo cause I am a white man but you know what I don’t like? I hate being called Pakeha. It is literally translated as white pig and people accept it as the norm. In the news, shows and conversations. I don’t like it. I also don’t like it when a consensus or a survey comes along and they want you to identify yourself as a New Zealand / Pakeha or European. I always end up ticking ‘other’ and write New Zealander. It doesn’t matter, cause we were born here and that makes us Kiwi. I think all this does is segregate the people and create divisions which in turn can breed racism.”

Nick agreed with the sentiment and I for one didn’t know how to react. I thought it was normal but I guess it’s not. I think to them having the word Pakeha in official documents is like having Samoa/Coconut on it (apparently since there are a lot of small islands around New Zealand the inhabitants more often then not migrate here for work and study, They get called ‘Coconuts’ because of the way they speak and act, macam urang kampong la urang bilang). It’s offensive and politically incorrect in this try-hard politically correct society that we are living in.

I just thought that it was interesting to hear and observe such sentiments. What do you think?

Till Then



Filed under Auckland, Life

3 responses to “I don’t like being called a Pakeha

  1. So what’s informative and accurate alternative? New Zealander? That gives no reference to who you are – there are many races and groups that would call them New Zealanders, and if we all did, it would make any form of census pretty much null and void. NZ European? That makes no sense – I’ve never even set foot in Europe, so how can I call myself European?

    It’s an urban myth that it translates to White Pig – the actual word origin is from ‘pakehakeha’ which loosely means ‘Supernatural beings from the Sea’.

    I figure in modern day society it’s a term to refer to people of European descent, but who are more identifiable to New Zealand than to anywhere else in the world, and the word happens to have been appropriated from the Maori language. There’s no racism intended (well, no more than any other cultural title has), and it’s a simple, quantifiable term that could help simplify the cultural plight of any white person who calls New Zealand home.

  2. Meizi

    ‘gwailo’ translates to ‘white ghost’ and in a social sense is probably actually more offensive than ‘pakeha’, which is used in official ways in new zealand, and as the previous comment mentioned is an urban myth that it means ‘white pig’. i can see jared’s arguement about why people should just be called kiwis, and they are, i do sometimes when i dont feel like being malaysian =P but then you would lose the variety of cultures in a community that can also stem from recognising oneselve differently from another.

  3. taranama

    refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81keh%C4%81….
    No Māori dictionary cites ‘Pākehā’ as derogatory.

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