“How High Is Your RQ?”: Is Te Reo Māori The New Blood Quantum?

  • Melissa Jane Derby
  • Sonja Macfarlane


“Are you part-Māori?” “How much Māori blood do you have?” “S/he is only one sixteenth Māori so not really Māori” “You’re one quarter Māori?! Wow you don’t look it” “I can tell you have something in you – it’s your eyes that give it away” and “But there aren’t any full-blooded Māori left anyway” are comments many of us have heard, and some of us may have made, as we grapple with this complex and intricate thing called ‘identity’. The archaic notion of defining who is (or who is not) Māori based on a mathematical formula, whereby (we think) we are supposed to divide the number of generations since our tūpuna (ancestors) were ‘full-blooded’ by the number of marriages with people who are non-Māori in order to determine who is a ‘real Māori’ (or not), thankfully is no longer accepted practice in Aotearoa New Zealand – although, sadly, the same cannot be said for our Indigenous counterparts elsewhere. That isn’t to say that comments like those mentioned above aren’t still made – and for the most part (Don Brash and Bob Jones excluded), we don’t believe those who ask these questions are intending to cause harm; rather they are perhaps being made in order to satisfy a genuine curiosity about another person’s identity.


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How to Cite
Derby, M. J., & Macfarlane, S. (2018). “How High Is Your RQ?”: Is Te Reo Māori The New Blood Quantum?. Te Kaharoa, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.24135/tekaharoa.v11i1.207