The Contested White Lady: A Critique of New Zealand Cultural Heritage Politics

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Lindsay Neill
Eveline Duerr
Alexander Trapeznik


This article critiques New Zealand’s cultural heritage politics by positing that vernacular items, like an iconic eatery called the White Lady, does not meet the legislative criteria enabling cultural heritage status. If vernacular artefacts, including ‘kiwiana’, are to be integrated within cultural heritage, then changes within legislation, definitions and participant preconceptions are necessary. This study argues that cultural heritage is dominated by artefacts and historic places; that ‘kiwiana’ and other vernacular items of social history, practice and tradition are relegated. Items of ‘kiwiana’ act as touchstones of identity for New Zealanders. Therefore, their omission distorts the view of New Zealand’s cultural heritage. The application of cultural heritage status to the White Lady is important because of its transcendence of time and social change, its aesthetic, and also because of its present-day hospitality offering.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Lindsay Neill, AUT University Auckland

Senior Lecturer, School of Hospitality & Tourism

Eveline Duerr, University of Munich

Professor, Institut Ethnologie

Alexander Trapeznik, University of Otago

Associate Professor Department of History and Art History


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