Reading the 'Ghost Book': Māori Talk About Washday at the Pā, by Ans Westra
Stewart, G; Dale, H
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Washday at the Pā was an old school journal - a book designed for young readers, containing a photo-story of a typical day at home for a Māori mother and her children. Washday was published in 1964 by School Publications (the publishing arm of the Department of Education) on behalf of the government of Aotearoa New Zealand, as part of its educational publishing programme to support universal state schooling provision, in the post-WWII modernist era of national expansion and Māori urbanisation. A few months after its national distribution to primary schools, the book became the target of Māori protest, resulting in the mandatory return and destruction of all 38,000 copies. This outcome, in turn, generated a larger national controversy in the form of a flurry of opinions expressed over several months through the editorials and letter columns of newspapers throughout the country - the social media of the times. Many commentators objected to what they saw as unnecessary censorship, pandering to Māori ‘sensitivities’, and a senseless waste of valuable educational resources. The purpose of this video research article is to present bilingual (English and Māori) oral and written Kaupapa Māori discussions and readings of the book and its history, which incorporate critical Māori perspectives and Māori language and knowledge, and extend on from our previous investigations of the Washday controversy from Kaupapa Māori educational perspectives (Stewart, Educ Philos Theory 1–9, 2017b; Stewart and Dale, Waikato J Educ 21:5–15, 2016).