New Zealand: State of Inception


John Rapkin, Map of New Zealand (1852)

New Zealand as settler state is — or, rather, was — a state of inception:

not (or not just) a state of exception, in which the suspension of laws in response to supposed crisis becomes a prolonged state of being (or, in terms of Inception, a place where memories [history as taonga or the “true” history of the place] are stolen, i.e., extracted or excepted [→ an untrue, or truly frontier history of the place] — although that might seem to be how New Zealand works),

but (or but also) a state of inception, in which laws of all kinds except constitutional law is applied to forestall crisis (or, in Inception‘s terms, a place where memories are implanted, i.e., incepted [→ an untrue, or truly foundational — or “found-national” — history of the place], which is in practice how New Zealand works).

The etymologies say it all: frontier — the vanguard of settlement; foundation — the grounding of the settlement.

frontier: from O.Fr. frontier, “prow of a ship, front rank of an army [i.e., the vanguard]” (13c.), from adj. frontier, “facing, neighboring,” from front “forehead, brow,” from L. frontem (nom. frons) “forehead, brow, front; facade, forepart; appearance.”

foundation: late 14c., “action of founding,” from L. fundationem, “a founding [i.e., a or the grounding],” from fundare, “to lay the bottom or foundation of something,” from fundus, “bottom, foundation.”

New Zealand as state of inception has always driven to ground itself in the place as a “steady state”: hence the Treaty, the Act of Dominion and other legislative moves, to provide a legal footing; hence the public education, health and other systems to administer its social arm — the “steady as she goes” welfare state; hence, even, the fetish for general histories, historical epics, etc., to voice the steady state history that is its back story. In effect, these are moves to assert a psychic sovereignty: a homeostatic home.

However, whether we see New Zealand as state of inception or exception, settlement comes down to making money by harnessing the psyche (as in — and as is — Inception).

(Note that I wrote New Zealand “is — or, rather, was — a state of inception” because I think things are changing as “we” seek to ape the US, the font of frontier capitalism. “We” are transforming New Zealand from settler utopia back into settler frontier — except that now it is the vanguard of a new settlement.)


4 thoughts on “New Zealand: State of Inception

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New Zealand: State of Inception « Te Ipu Pakore --
  2. There’s a lot there. I think it might be useful to examine the way in which the Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit, for example is used to establish history for the purpose of relegitimising the presence of the Crown. Of course, in a place without a pre-contact written history, other (pre-1840) presence and establishment is easily relegated.

    Other things I will have to think about.

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