Colonial discourse is the signifying system of colonialism: the system of statements and representations that justify and naturalise European colonial authority and power structures. Through its representation of the dependency, inferiority or degeneracy of the colonised, colonial discourse usually invokes a binary distinction between coloniser and colonised (self and other) in order to maintain European authority and power.


Katherine Mansfield's colonial short stories (e.g. The Woman at the Store, How Pearl Button was Kidnapped) are products of colonial discourse.

In Witi Ihimaera's Bulibasha, the Pakeha character Miss Zelda lords her superiority over the Maori residents of Waituhi in the form of the tally board and lodger book of accounts at the general store. Huria and Joshua's illiteracy is a symbol of Maori inferiority, and both they and Miss Zelda believe that they could not survive without the Pakeha credit system imposed at the store.