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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores how Maori innovated on the music and religion that European colonialists brought to Aotearoa/New Zealand, constructing a synthesis that transcended both the European and the native. For Maori, Christianity was conceived within a framework of “cultural economy,” in which cultural misunderstandings served as resources in a process of cultural selection involving the preservation of some elements and rejection of others, to enhance power among Maori. The chapter focuses on the Ratana Church, founded by the visionary prophet T. W. Ratana in the early 20th century. Ratana purposefully used music and performance in forging his syncretic brand of Christianity, creating new repertoires aligned with his project of finding a place for Maori in the new nation. This vision continues to be celebrated each year at the powhiri (ceremony of encounter), where Aotearoa New Zealand is performed through the confluence of diverse cultures, traditions, and worldviews.

Keywords: Christianity, music, New Zealand, Autearoa, indigenous, Maori, Ratana, cultural economy, powhiri

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