2 Apr 2013

Maori more valued in Australia than NZ - researcher

8:52 am on 2 April 2013

An historian who specialises in Maori in Australia says Maori seem to be more valued in Australia than in New Zealand, and are held in higher esteem by white Australians than Aboriginal people.

Paul Hamer from the School of Maori Studies at Victoria University is carrying out two surveys: one for Maori in Australia and another for Maori who have returned to New Zealand.

He says fortunately for Maori they were exempt from the White Australia Policy between 1901 and 1973 that restricted Pacific Islanders, Asians and other non-Europeans from settling in Australia.

Mr Hamer says Maori have a good history in Australia of being hard workers and are sought after more than Aboriginal people.

He says even from the earliest stages of British colonisation of Australia, Maori were seen as being a few steps up the ladder from indigenous Australians in terms of the European ideas of a descending order of races.

Because Maori were British subjects and were allowed to vote in New Zealand they were accorded the same rights and privileges as British settlers.

Mr Hamer says Maori are highly regarded by white Australians and for many Maori that's a refreshing change from New Zealand, where there are constant negative stories about them in the media.