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Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

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The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for 2022 were announced at a ceremony held in Auckland last week and I was thrilled to win the General Non-Fiction category for Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa , published in 2021 and the third instalment in a trilogy on the New Zealand Wars that began with The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato, 1800-2000 in 2016 and was followed by The New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa in 2019 - all published by Bridget Williams Books. Judges Nicholas Reid, Aaron Smale and Leilani Tamu had this to say about Voices from the New Zealand Wars : Vincent O’Malley’s book meets all the criteria for a great work of non-fiction. It is the fruit of close historical research and accessible to a wide readership. It tells us of the past but is relevant to the present when public debate feeds New Zealanders’ hunger to know how our country was formed. It is nuanced in its balance of both Māori and Pakeha voices and it respects the

Fragments from a Contested Past: Remembrance, Denial and New Zealand History

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  What a nation or society chooses to remember and forget speaks to its contemporary priorities and sense of identity. Understanding how that process works enables us to better imagine a future with a different, or wider, set of priorities.’   Which histories does a nation prioritise – and which are left quietly aside? These are questions hotly debated in the international press. And in Aotearoa New Zealand, they are brought sharply into focus by the new history curriculum, arriving in schools in 2023.   Fragments from a Contested Past, published this week, reflects on these questions of memory, loss and ‘difficult histories’.  The team of writers ( Joanna Kidman , Vincent O'Malley, Liana MacDonald , Tom Roa and Keziah Wallis ) several from iwi invaded or attacked during the New Zealand Wars, have come together to ‘enable us to better imagine a future with a different, or wider, set of priorities’.    Combinin

New Zealand Book Awards

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My latest book, Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa (Bridget Williams Books), is a finalist in the General Non-Fiction Category at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.  The judges had this to say about the book:  An admirable work of historical scholarship drawing on many sources, Māori and Pākehā. Vincent O'Malley's craft lies in unpacking those sources in an eloquent and incisive way, and he helps readers to think critically as he presents balanced arguments about contested battles and other conflicts. In the process, he weaves a coherent history of the New Zealand Wars. Essential reading for New Zealanders, with the bonus of excellent book production by the publishers.  For the full list of finalists see here . The winners will be announced at a ceremony in May.

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