Wairua Affect and Identity

Wairua, Affect and National Days


This research critically engages with race, culture, and nationhood reproduced through Waitangi Day, Anzac Day, Matariki, Chinese and Gregorian New Year. Innovative methods have been produced in a convergence of Kaupapa Maori and affect theory approaches, using multiple qualitative techniques to gather rich, diverse, multimodal data from Maori and non-Maori. The project is a strong collaboration between Maori and non-Maori team members that is building new theory, method and research capability in a cutting edge investigation of great salience to national life in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

  • Focusing on print media representations of Waitangi Day and Anzac Day, we identified affective discursive repertoires which reinforce, maintain and privilege the hegemony of settler culture and identity. For Waitangi Day, one interpretive repertoire included ‘Waitangi Day is a day of conflict’. In contrast, Anzac Day was consistently represented as ‘a sacred day of respectful remembrance’. Read more about our research on Waitangi Day and Anzac Day.
  • Coverage about the project this year has brought critical analysis of national days to the mainstream and provided an opportunity to flip the media narrative:
Alex (McConville)’s research has shown that for "a lot of people Waitangi Day is loaded with a range of emotions—be it pride, nostalgia, grief, or indifference, for example—and how it relates to national belonging, cultural identities, and ethnic relations in New Zealand." His research is part of The National Days Project, a collaboration of both Māori and Pākehā researchers from Massey University and the University of Auckland, who are exploring little-studied acts of commemoration that express nation and community.
- Sasha Borissenko, VICE
  • Research on new approaches for analysing affective-discursive practice provided novel theoretical contributions which included exploring the ‘emotion canon’ in a New Zealand national days context. Read more
  • Māori researchers in the team lead the development of a wairua approach to research, we are the first to apply Kaupapa Māori, wairua and affect theory to empirical data. Read more.


More information on our Wairua, Affect and Identity research here