Close to Nowhere, Far From Everyone
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Colonisation of Aotearoa-New Zealand was done so under the utopian guise of making a ‘Better Britain.’ The story for the average settler was, however, far from a paradise. Furthermore, settlers brought with them disease and war, the effects of which reduced the Māori population by nearly 60 percent by the beginning of the twentieth century. Despite this, the utopian narrative was revived in the post-World War II period and has persevered since, evident in the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ tourism advertising campaign. This utopian image of New Zealand is but a thin veil as, for example, such advertising omits that 26 percent of the country’s children live in poverty and the rate of youth suicide is the highest in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. This gap, between dominant ideology and the lived experience of reality, is the space in which the thesis Close To Nowhere, Far From Everyone exists. The exegesis Violence and the Failure of Utopian Myth-Making in New Zealand explores how since the middle of the twentieth century some authors have used gothic tropes, subtext and Māori perspectives to reveal New Zealand as a failed utopia. It looks at how literature and literary representation has highlighted the violence of intensive farming practices, which much of the country’s economy relies on. It takes this further, using the stories in Close To Nowhere to illustrate how such violence has moved beyond the working class meatworks and subsequently become normalised through rugby’s link to the national identity. Distortions of hetero-normative sexuality will be discussed within the history of New Zealand literature and the thesis Close To Nowhere. This distortion will be examined through the lens of the short story, which, despite a fall in popularity in the past 30 years, was for much of the last century the predominant form of fiction. It concludes by suggesting that the short story form is in need of a revival as a means of more accurately revealing New Zealand to itself as a failed utopia, and where a multi-cultural landscape is necessary to realise the flaw in its original colonial vision.