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Teaching Aotearoa New Zealand Histories

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Aotearoa New Zealand has come a long way in the past few years in its efforts to engage with its history in a more upfront and honest manner. For those of us who have campaigned for such a change, this is not before time. This new-found willingness to move beyond a rose-tinted approach to the nation’s past in which anything uncomfortable or considered to reflect poorly on the Pākehā majority is shunned and ignored has taken considerable effort and is still very much a work in progress. Confronting the often bloody and brutal realities of colonial dispossession of Māori has come as a shock for many non-Māori New Zealanders brought up to believe that they lived in a country with the greatest ‘race relations’ in the world. A more robust and truthful understanding of that history is to a large degree dependent on the education system. And while there is good news on this front, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the campaign has been a long and at times difficult one.          

Remembering and Forgetting Difficult Histories: The New Zealand Wars

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In October 2021, Professor Joanna Kidman and I gave a talk at City Gallery , Wellington, on ‘Remembering and Forgetting Difficult Histories: The New Zealand Wars’.   City Gallery Talk (photo: Story is King Media) The talk, delivered in conjunction with Brett Graham’s extraordinary Tai Moana Tai Tangata exhibition, draws on research conducted for our Marsden Fund project on how the New Zealand Wars are remembered and forgotten.   Brett Graham, Vincent O'Malley and Joanna Kidman pictured in front of Cease Tide of Wrong-Doing, part of Brett Graham: Tai Moana Tai Tangata, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth As we noted in the abstract for the event, si tes of enormous violence can be places of memory embedded in the land, but also of silence and forgetting. The ‘difficult histories’ of the New Zealand Wars are remembered by Māori through many forms – including art and sculpture, while ignored, or at best, mythologised by many Pākehā. The talk took place in front of B

Release of Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo Nō Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa

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Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo Nō Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa , the third in a series of works I have written on these defining conflicts, after The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato, 1800-2000 (2016) and The New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa (2019), all published by Bridget Williams Books, is officially released this month.  Drawn from memoirs, letters, journals and diaries, newspaper reports, official accounts and more, Voices from the New Zealand Wars/ He Reo Nō Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa brings together the accounts of multiple Māori and Pākehā men and women who either fought in or witnessed the conflicts that ravaged New Zealand between 1845 and 1872, telling the stories of these conflicts through their many voices. Watch the trailer for the book here.     And read the first review here . A short extract: "By combining an incredibly rich set of sources – extracts from diaries, memoirs, letters, official documents and newspaper reports – with meticulous scholarsh

The New Zealand Wars: Te Papa Event Video

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The New Zealand Wars were a series of conflicts that profoundly shaped the course and direction of our nation’s history.  Watch Mihingarangi Forbes in conversation with historian Vincent O'Malley at Te Papa's Marae, Rongomaraeroa, exploring the significance of these conflicts for New Zealanders today.  Recorded at an event held in October 2019 and hosted by Bridget Williams Books (BWB) to mark both the annual commemoration of these conflicts and that year's release of Vincent O'Malley's bestselling book The New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa .        See also this shorter video, featuring Vincent O'Malley introducing the topic at the same event. 

NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui

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Following on from the award-winning NZ Wars: The Stories of Ruapekapeka and NZ Wars: Stories of Waitara , NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui was released earlier this year.  Produced by Great Southern Television and Aotearoa Media Collective for RNZ, and presented by Mihingarangi Forbes, NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui tells the of the invasion of 1863 invasion of Waikato, a defining moment in Aotearoa New Zealand history. Centred on three key encounters; Rangiriri, Rangiaowhia and Ōrākau NZ Wars: Stories of Tainui is a bicultural retelling of “the biggest and most important campaign of the 19th century New Zealand Wars”.  The documentary recaps the events which led to the invasion of the Waikato and examines its consequences for future generations of New Zealanders.       Besides the documentary itself, extended interviews are also available to view with leading Tainui tribal historians Rahui Papa, Brad Totorewa, Tom Roa, Mamae Takerei and Kawhia Muraahi, along with myself.     There ar

Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa

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Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa will be published by Bridget Williams Books in October 2021 and is available to preorder now. The following description comes from the book's webpage.   The New Zealand Wars of the mid-nineteenth century profoundly shaped the course and direction of our nation's history. This book takes us to the heart of these conflicts with a series of first-hand accounts from Māori and Pākehā who either fought in or witnessed the wars that ravaged New Zealand between 1845 and 1872. From Heni Te Kiri Karamu's narrative of her remarkable exploits as a wāhine toa, through to Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky's writing of his time in the Forest Rangers and beyond, we learn about the wars at a human level.    The often fragmentary, sometimes hastily written accounts that make up  Voices from the New Zealand Wars  vividly evoke the extreme emotions – fear, horror, pity and courage – experienced during the most turbul

Irish Precedents and the New Zealand Wars

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A recent blog post discussed Irish and Māori historical connections . This post continues down this path, with a narrower focus on the New Zealand Wars. There are two aspects to this: Irish precedents for the package of land confiscation and other measures passed in 1863, and the reactions of Irish soldiers sent to New Zealand to fight in these conflicts. What did these Irishmen think of fighting a war of conquest and dispossession for which their own country had served as the original blueprint? How did they feel about doing to Māori what had been done to their own people and land? The 18 th Royal Irish Regiment arrived in New Zealand days before the invasion of Waikato in July 1863 and was the last regiment to leave the colony (in February 1870). But many men remained behind. 18th Regiment veterans and their families gather at Albert Park, 31-WP1752, Auckland Libraries   As the New Zealand Settlements Act authorising land confiscations from Māori made its way through the New Ze