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Hinemoana Baker

Doctoral Fellow


Campus am Neuen Palais
Am Neuen Palais 10
Building 1, Room 0.15


consulting hours
by appointment only

Dissertation Project

'You’re Not the Māori I Had in Mind’: The Performance of Māori Indigineity in Germany

Current German fascination with Māori performed culture is part of a wider, longer history of fetishisation and appropriation of indigenous cultures from other parts of the world. Author Karl May and his Winnetou novels may have begun the phenomenon in Germany, but it’s certainly not died away. In 2009 there were more than 400 hobbyist clubs around Germany formed to enable 40,000 enthusiasts to get together on weekends to roleplay the lives of their imaginary version of the 'Plains Indians of North America'. It's estimated that the figure now may be closer to 60,000. The Deutsch Pazifische Gesellschaft e.V., established in 1974, is one of many similar communities around the country with a passionate interest in the Pacific and its many cultures and languages, not simply those belonging to the islands with which they have a colonial history. The historical and current flow of Pacific performers to Europe, while it may not be as well-documented or explored as similar trails leading to and from the United States, is nevertheless significant. 


My research questions begin with the self-ethnographic, genealogical, and intellectual interest and experience in my own Māori culture and tangatawhenuatanga (first-nationhood), and what this becomes for me and for others when it’s put on a 'stage' in Germany in our Māori bodies. I will investigate how the location of that stage and the nature of the audience in front of it, as well as the differing backgrounds and approaches of the individual performers themselves, draw out or manifest different significance and meaning from the same performed event. My research also includes investigations of various practitioners like Fabian Strumpf, a German currently running 'haka' workshops around Germany for all comers. These workshops allow attendees to learn the ‘haka dance of the Māori people of New Zealand’ in order to create, among many other things, ‘wealth, beauty, force, presence, courage’. There are many such 'teachers' in Germany, each promising similar things.

My overall interest is in the wider implications of a mobile, 'performed' Māori indigineity, enacted within the borders of European nation-states by Māori and non-Māori alike, and the shifting dynamics of power, privilege and perception this highlights. It is not possible to de-situate the performance of Māori indigineity from the bodies which enact it, impersonate it or intrude upon it. My research examines and spotlights the cosmopolitan and the indigenous as they inform and create each other on stages and in audiences, enacted by Māori and non-Māori bodies. Is the impulse in German and European audiences when witnessing performance of Māori culture and/or language to somehow reach beyond themselves towards a (minor) cosmopolitanism that makes room for the cultural other? Or does it help them avoid this very thing? How does their/our corporeality, subject as it is to culturally relative pressures, rituals and beliefs, allow or hinder this? How do Māori concepts such as ihi, wehi and wana (which can be defined as the potentially profound, somatised effects of a performance on its audience and its performers) reach from Oceania towards the heart (and neighbouring organs) of Europe? Of Empire? Can Māori worlding be 'delivered' to non-Māori audiences, by both Māori and non-Māori alike, in ways which satisfy enough of these audiences' criteria for 'indigeneity' to be worth the price of admission?


Ko Tainui me Takitimu ngā waka tapu

Ko Te Āti Awa, ko Ngāti Toa Rangatira, ko Ngāti Raukawa, ko Ngāi Tahu ngā iwi

Ko Tūkorehe me Ngāti Moki Tuarua ngā hapū

Ko Hinemoana Baker ahau

On my father’s side, I’m Māori – I come from his tribes, which are Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāi Tahu. 

On my mum’s side, my ancestors are from Germany and England. 

My name is Hinemoana Baker. 

Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.


I am a New Zealand poet, performer and writer currently living and writing in Berlin. I arrived in Germany in 2015 on a year-long funded fellowship as the Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence 2016. My Masters degree, from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, became my first collection of poetry. There have been two more since, a new one slated for 2020, and several audio recordings of my original work, both spoken and sung. My solo stage shows pivot around sonic art, collaged language, lyric poetry and family storytelling, musical and otherwise. In shared shows with German writer Ulrike Almut-Sandig, each of us sings and speaks her own and the other’s texts in an audio jigsaw that pushes the concepts of translation and comprehension.

Research Interests

  • Indigenous Theatre and Performance Studies
  • Critiquing Indigenous Cosmopolitanism
  • Decolonial Feminisms and Queer Theories
  • Queer Indigenous Studies