This Pākehā Life

This Pākehā Life

An Unsettled Memoir

This book is about my making sense here, of my becoming and being Pākehā. Every Pākehā becomes a Pākehā in their own way, finding her or his own meaning for that Māori word. This is the story of what it means to me. I have written this book for Pākehā – and other New Zealanders – curious about their sense of identity and about the ambivalences we Pākehā often experience in our relationships with Māori.

A timely and perceptive memoir from award-winning author and academic Alison Jones. As questions of identity come to the fore once more in New Zealand, this frank and humane account of a life spent traversing Pākehā and Māori worlds offers important insights into our shared life on these islands.

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Click image to view preface (PDF)
Print publication:
Ebook publication: Sep 2020
Pages: 240
RRP: $39.99
ISBN: 9781988587288
DOI: 10.7810/9781988587288


This Pākehā life, E-Tangata, 13 September 2020.

Comfort in discomfort: Alison Jones on This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir, Eleanor Black , NZ Herald Canvas magazine, 12 September 2020 (paywall).

Pakeha title shows commitment to Maori, Radio Waatea , Breakfast Show, 9 September 2020 (audio 14'53").

Alison Jones: 'Pākehā shouldn't let our collective past be crippling', Denise Montgomery , UniNews, 1 September 2020.



'This Pākehā Life is an important and timely invitation for Pākehā to look more deeply into the psychology of identity and belonging, using Jones’s own life as a starting point. By sifting through her history, set against the political and cultural time in which she has lived, the personal becomes universal.'
Caroline Barron, Kete, 15 September 2020 and published on Stuff, 19 September 2020.

'“The desire for redemption is a powerful urge,” Alison Jones writes of the Pakeha “need for recognition that we are not ‘all bad’ in our history”. In this searingly honest, bighearted, erudite and compellingly humble memoir, Jones contends that understanding “the details of our history is a good place to start”.'
Stephanie Johnson, NZ Herald Canvas magazine & Academy of New Zealand Literature, 12 &16 September 2020.



'I met Alison at the cauldron of political action in Auckland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In this journey of discovery about ‘being Pakeha’ in Aotearoa New Zealand, she challenges herself to wrestle with the complexity of ‘Maori being’ and the unsettling idea of becoming Pakeha i roto i tenei ao rereke. This is an honest and disruptive interrogation of white privilege and power relations in Aotearoa.'
Ripeka Evans, social justice advocate