Christopher Fung

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts, Boston, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9971

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Fung, Christopher (University of Massachusetts Boston) "Land, Ancestors, Connection: Emerging Immigrant and Indigenous Relationships in Aotearoa/New Zealand"

This project asks ‘What happens when immigrant groups in settler-colonial countries begin to consider themselves as guests to indigenous hosts, rather than foreigners seeking to become settlers?’ In this research I will examine the creation of new and dynamic modes of immigrant belonging and relatedness which are challenging settler-colonialism and white supremacy as dominant reference points for immigrants of color.

I will investigate the importance of land, ancestors and connectedness in an emerging relationship between immigrant New Zealanders and two indigenous Maori communities in the Hokianga region, Aotearoa/New Zealand. This relationship started in 2007, more than a century after the bodies of 500 Chinese were ‘lost’ in the wreck of the SS Ventnor off the Hokianga coast. Local Maori communities saved some of the bodies and reburied them with appropriate protocols in waahi tapu (sacred sites). Today, Chinese New Zealanders have begun visits with those communities in recognition of their manaakitanga (responsibilities as hosts) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of these remains. This engagement also highlights existing cleavages within the New Zealand Chinese community.

This research will examine the political and social significance of such ancestral, spiritual, and social engagements between indigenous and immigrant groups in the complex process of immigrant identity-making.