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Showing posts from September, 2012

Book Review: Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins, "Words Between Us — He Korero: First Maori-Pakeha Conversations on Paper", Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2011

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Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins, Words Between Us — He Korero: First Maori-Pakeha Conversations on Paper, Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2011
Words Between Us was published late in 2011, just as the final touches were being put to my own The Meeting Place: Maori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840. That was too late to even note the publication of this new work. It is only now, therefore, that I have had an opportunity to read the Jones and Jenkins book. I’m pleased I have done so. Some books can be a chore to read. This is not one of them.


The story of early Maori engagement with writing is told with considerable skill. Examining several copybooks in which Maori boys learned to write at one of the missionary schools in the 1820s set the authors off on a journey to discover how Maori first encountered writing and what it might have been like ‘to take up a European technology that, by some obscure power, seemed to be able to speak in the language of the local people’ (p 3). They do so by way of…

The Sexual Politics of Pre-Treaty New Zealand: A Love Story from the North

Here's a story I like. On one level, it's a simple love story. But as I explain in The Meeting Place: Maori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840, the events described also provide a rich insight into the sexual politics of pre-Treaty New Zealand. Richard Cruise, a member of the crew that visited New Zealand on board HMS Dromedary in 1820, first told the story of two young lovers, one Maori, the other Pakeha, and the complex chain of events their desire to be together set off. Here is the story in his words:
The ascendancy that the native women were capable, in some instances of obtaining over the mind of a European, was strongly exemplified, at this time, in the person of a very young man who held a situation of much respectability in the ship.

Soon after our arrival at Wangarooa, he was employed with others in superintending the men employed in making the road; and during his residence on shore, he so strongly attached himself to the daughter of Towi, the chief of Rangehoo, that…