Flexible identities: Narratives of Māori-Italians in New Zealand

Adalgisa Giorgio, Carla Houkamau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethnicity is a key variable in social science research and is often assumed to be a stable construct. Yet, for more and more individuals in New Zealand’s diversified society, ethnicity is flexible and individuals may choose to change and adapt their ethnic identities contingent on social contexts. Using material from narrative interviews with 44 Māori-Italians conducted in New Zealand in 2013, this paper explores the relevance of the social identity theoretical approach for understanding the construction of mixed ethnic identities. Employing an interactionist conceptualisation of identity expression, our findings disclose four thematic patterns by which participants assert positive mixed-ethnic identities that allow them to align with desirable notions of what it means to be Māori, Italian, and Māori-Italian and also differentiate themselves from what they perceive as the less positive aspects of the dominant New Zealand culture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020
EventTransnational Transnational Italies. Mobility, Subjectivities and Modern Italian Cultures - British School at Rome, Rome, Italy
Duration: 26 Oct 201628 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

The fieldwork underlying this article was conducted in 2013 by Adalgisa Giorgio with funding from the European Union-Oceania Social Science Inter-regional Consortium (2009-5259/001-001-EMA2). Adalgisa is very grateful to her interviewees in New Zealand for participating in this research. Marina Sciascia and Maria Moleta Van der Aa are owed a special debt for facilitating data collection. Adalgisa Giorgio is Italian and the lead investigator in this study. Carla Houkamau is of Ngāti Porou Kahungūnu/Ngati Kere and Ngāti Porou/Te Whānau o Tuwhakairiora descent. She is a Māori Italian and herself a descendant of Nicola Sciascia and Riria McGregor.


  • Māori identity
  • Māori-Italian identity
  • hybridity
  • Social identity theory
  • interactionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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