New Zealanders have a strong affinity with the land and firm connections are drawn between the land and cultural identity in the economy, in politics and in art. Histories of migration, settlement and environmental adaptation ensure the subject of communities and landscapes is increasingly important in New Zealand studies. Maori are "Tangata Whenua" (people of the land) and stress the significance of their relationship with the land. In recent times government agencies have sought to change many placenames from English back to the Maori original in order to signify intellectual decolonization, e.g. "Murderers' Beach" to "Whareakeake." The debate this has caused demonstrates strong feelings that the names of the land and the land itself are tied into ideas of identity in diverse communities. This collection of essays explores these complex relationships in different parts of the country and at different times. Environment versus settler society has been a longstanding theme and three essays look at aspects of this. Land ownership and the families that make communities are the subjects of two further essays. The next two contributors look at rural society, in search of the itinerant worker and harvest festivities. Two final essays deal with more recent subjects: the challenge to a major government hydro-electricity project and New Zealanders abroad in the world.
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