Critical Commentary Maori to Pakeha

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Maori to Pakeha by J.C Sturm develops an image of oppression and inequality between Maori and Pakeha. The language techniques of tone, rhetorical question, repetition, analogy and Maori language are all used to clearly illustrate the authors feeling of anger and support the dominant themes throughout the poem.

Stanza one explores the idea of separation between Maori and Pakeha through a tone that that is accusatory and suggests anger. The first few lines using a repetition of referring to Pakeha as “You” instantly creates an idea of separatism which is then understood as negative through the use of describing Pakeha as “Beak-nosed hairy-limbed narrow-footed”. All three of these adjectives have negative connotations instantly setting the tone for the poem. As the stanza progresses this negative attitude towards the Pakeha is reinforced, supporting the negative tone. “Meanwhile trampling Persia/Or is it India, underfoot/With such care less feet” is an example of this, touching upon colonization, the sentence before this which reads “You singing/Some old English folksong” gives further meaning to the colonization and therefore, oppression. It is not just the land they are colonizing but their culture too, as singing is something which is heard and gets into the mind of the people, overriding all thoughts.

Stanza’s two and three introduce the device of rhetorical question which are used for effect to add to the accusatory tone of the poem. An example of this is “Where do you think you are going?” used as the opening sentence of stanza two, which is the first rhetorical question used in the poem, and “Who do you think you are?” used as the last line of stanza three. Supporting the critical tone of the poems, the rhetorical questions are used to illustrate to the reader the author’s feeling of contempt towards the Pakeha. The use of ‘think’ in both of these rhetorical questions is important as it is this word which gives the words surrounding it, and therefore...
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