The case of Mataku

The article entitled "Indigeneity, media and cultural globalization: The Case of Mataku, or the Maori X-Files" was written by a professor and one of his students who are both highly qualified in this area of expertise. Kevin Glynn received his PhD from the Media & Cultural Studies Program in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied media theory, criticism, history and audience. His research concentration is in media studies and television studies and includes cultural studies and aspects of popular communication and culture more broadly. Dr Glynn's work on popular journalism has been widely cited in media studies, journalism studies and cultural studies. His recent publications have examined Indigenous peoples' media, digital media and convergence culture, popular and political cultures of the Americas, and media and postcolonialism. His student A.F. Tyson is completing a Masters in English at the School of Culture, Literature and Society at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. She is examining the portrayal of settler history and Pakeha and national identity in recent New Zealand fiction. They wrote this article detailing a New Zealand television program called Mataku, the first ever TV drama ever to done entirely by Maori.

Mataku is a program with an eye toward the global media market and, according to its producers, the first to be written, directed and produced entirely by Maori. Mataku has emerged partly through the economic dynamics of globalization and partly as a consequence of government policies, institutional arrangements and funding mechanisms established in New Zealand in response to threats posed by neoliberalism. Mataku revisits traditional Maori narratives that have circulated orally for generations and repackages those stories within generic frameworks associated with the global resurgence of supernaturalism in television. The program therefore embodies aspects of both cultural globality and cultural hybridity on several levels. Its emphasis on the multiplicity of modalities through which `the old ways' assert their significance within contemporary life creates a space for complex postcolonial negotiations between past and present, disenchantment and alterity.

The reason for the show's existence is because recent years have brought extensive political backlash in New Zealand against the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and against the public recognition of various aspects of indigenous identities, knowledges and practices. Many Maori therefore feel as though their culture continues to be trampled on in a variety of ways. Such dynamics point toward what is perhaps Mataku's most valuable potential. Mataku shows through its characters and stories that there is not just one way to "be brown", and that there is diversity, complexity and conflict within Maoridom over 'what we believe'. Mataku thus constitutes a complexly hybridized text of global and postcolonial television that consistently asserts that traditional Maori cultural beliefs and knowledges are far from irrelevant to the contemporary world and deserve to be treated seriously and with great respect. It is a site where the indigenous public sphere engages in a politics of re-imagination. Mataku's magic realist, postcolonial indigenous imaginary is illustrative of one way in which, by drawing together less predictable audiences and collectivities, globalization can enable experimentation and intellectual adventure. It demonstrates as well how global cultural flows are linked to the imaginative rearticulation and reinvigoration of localized identities and sensibilities. The cultural promise of such imaginative undertakings is, however, a precarious one that must be carefully cultivated within environments suited to their sustenance. In practical terms, with regard to indigenous media, a crucial dimension of this problem concerns the creation of adequate institutional frameworks and funding environments, issues that pose constant challenges for First Nations mediamakers throughout the world. In this connection, it is important to remember that the imaginativity and vibrance of Mataku extends from its textuality to the broader mediascape of social relations that is its generative matrix. That mediascape of social relations in turn encompasses multiple dimensions, sites and levels of activity, from the ongoing creativity of the program's widely dispersed oral sources, engaged communities of both production and reception, to the persistent activism of Maori broadcasters and treaty-rights advocates, who deserve much of the credit for the kinds of cultural policies and funding regimes that have created space for the resourceful, hybridizing fusion and unleashing of commercial and public-spirited, interventionist energies.

The language used for this article's intended audience is appropriate, as it uses grammar that quickly emphasizes its main point, yet is not too difficult to understand. The definition of the terms that people are unfamiliar with are quickly explained throughout the text. For example, I was quickly able to surmise that the Maori were the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, and the overall purpose of their efforts to create and host Mataku. Because of the language used and the proficiency of information, this is a great report, and a lot of credit should go to its two very qualified writers.

Overall, I find this article to be very informative and supportive of its main points. The authors were trying to present an unbiased view at the struggles of the Maori people, and how far they've come with their television show. The article shows that Mataku is a way for the Maori to be better known and allow them to find deeper connection with those around their community. Mataku thus depicts Maori as a diverse people actively engaged in the negotiation of the cultural, social, economic and political complexities of the contemporary postcolonial situation. In conclusion, it is my belief that the authors have accomplished their objectives and proven the significance of Mataku and the role it plays for its people.


  • Glynn, K., et. al. (2007), Indigeneity, media and cultural globalization: The case of Mataku, or the Maori X-Files. International Journal of Cultural Studies, Online at: <>, consulted on Feb 7, 2010.

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