Being Pākehā in Decolonial Aotearoa and Racist Sweden
Pain – Shame – Progress – Shame – Shock – ?

A Pākehā Puppet


Robin Dingemans

This puppet is a tribal neo/neuro & modality-diverse-communicative access- positive-mer (neithermanmaid) Pākehā (d)eco/lonifeminist, externally queered entity. In this ascribing, it is a profaning, desecrating and antagonising of the white-straight-male-supremacy-iconising which the colonial matrix of power (CMP) often perpetuates.[1] From childhood, it had the privilege of a sense of duality as proposed by W.E.B. Du Bois via the vivid and immediate reflection back by Māori people of the postcolonial gaze.[2] This puppet benefitted from its parents’ beginnings of decolonizing their poor pronunciation of Te Reo Māori, Māori friends not accepting poor pronunciation, and is now beholden to the extraordinary patience of Māori application of tātou tātou e. From age 14, it was taught how shame can be positively transformative through being taught history with three perspectives via The Treaty of Waitangi. It exposes how society and culture act as puppet masters of identity and dumb whiteness.

Finding itself in Sweden since 2012, this puppet has been disorientated as to why shame relating to whiteness and racism in hypersegregated–home of racial biology –Holocaust complicity-denying Sweden is not often positively transformative, whilst flyggskam (flying shame) is normative, well accepted and easily shown to be positively transformative.

This Pākehā puppet is a location for auto-ethnographic object theatre investigation. Since childhood, it has been sheltered by brownness and queerness in the toxic masculinity landscape of 1980s and 90s rugby obsessed New Zealand Aotearoa, where it made the queer choice to dance as a child. In artistic works and ideation, it is allied with and by many BIPOC artistic and theoretical practitioners. From Du Bois and Fanon to now, auto-ethnographic practices are complicated by being placed within or calibrated to western academic research/theory and artistic actualisations. This Pākehā (QTIBIPOC) puppet is in some ways one step more complicated than the auto-ethnography of QTIBIPOC. Placed in Europe, it might seem unique; in Aotearoa it is well known, probably relatable to Du Bois’ ideas of the necessity of the talented tenth black elite to make change possible.[3]

Most writing on decoloniality is in European languages; decoloniality is fallible as long as it is written in the colonising languages it is critiquing. The resurgence of Te Reo Māori, Gaelic and many more are well established counters to this, showing chains of actions where languages were pushed to near extinction but brought back by resistance and resilience (essentials of decoloniality). Language, and the shifts in what terms are acceptable or not are indicative of how practices of decoloniality have a collective meeting point at the signified. Semiotics goes beyond language; it is as much what is felt by the signified, a psycho emotional matrix, that matters. Semiotics as route to interrupting the segregating actions of language.

This Pākehā puppet wants to be and is operated by culturating BIPOC puppet masters. This by no means makes it an oppressed person, especially when it tangibly has some control or awareness of what and who its wires are being handed to or connected to. It is as much a plugging into a network of knowledge and experiences as a giving over of agency. It is not a colonising by BIPOC worldview on the body, mind and soul of a Pākehā; it is more a factually based demining of the atrocities of whiteness and the CMP. Or simply an attempt to be human.

[1] W. Nanibush and W. Mignolo. Thinking and Engaging with the Decolonial: A Conversation Between Walter D. Mignolo and Wanda Nanibush. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018).
[2] W. E. B. Du Bois and B. Edwards. The Souls of Black Folk. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
[3] Du Bois, 2007.