2010

In 1934, two Maori women attended the Pan-Pacific Women's Conference in Hawai'i as members of the New Zealand delegation. They became figures of renown, considered to personify the interracial harmony supposedly existing in New Zealand, and were admired as cross-cultural ambassadors between Pakeha and Hawai'ian royalty, and between Pakeha and other white, 'western' delegates. As such, they epitomized the cultural intertiolist ideal of these conferences. Yet while cross-cultural exchange was to provide the basis for harmonious interracial relations in the Pacific region, the involvement of Maori delegates in the performance of cultural difference and cultural sameness (as both traditiol and modern women) points to a more complex dymic between 'culture' and notions of progress than the Pan-Pacific association envisaged. Drawing on a diary kept by a leading Pakeha delegate, this paper offers a critical reading of the significance of the Maori delegates to the 1934 conference.