Showing posts from 2013

Political Football: Maori and the Springboks to 1965

The rugby rivalry between New Zealand’s All Blacks and South Africa’s Springboks became part of each country’s sporting legend as a result of the Springbok tours of New Zealand in 1921, 1937 and 1956, and the All Black tours of South Africa in 1928 and 1949. The racism of white South Africans impacted on this sporting relationship, commencing with South African shock at having to play a Maori team in 1921. Their refusal to play the New Zealand Maori team on their 1937 tour prompted calls from Te Arawa and other iwi for a boycott. South Africa’s introduction of apartheid policies in 1948 resulted in the New Zealand Rugby Union agreeing to South African demands to exclude Maori players from All Black tours of South Africa. This led to huge protests against the 1960 All Black tour under the slogan ‘No Maoris, No Tour’. But despite a petition signed by 160,000 people, the government refused to intervene. South Africa offered to reclassify Maori players as ‘honorary whites’ for later tour…

'Slaying Without Scruple': An 1868 Call for Maori 'Extermination'

As the New Zealand Wars dragged on in the late 1860s, the conflicts took on a harsher and more racially tinged edge. With British imperial troops progressively withdrawn from New Zealand after 1865, colonial troops and their Maori allies assumed sole responsibility for pursuing the war instead. In July 1868 the Wellington Independent newspaper called for no mercy to be shown Maori ‘rebels’ (see The Treaty of Waitangi Companion, p. 145). Its call for ‘rebels’ to be ‘slain without scruple’ was repeated in equally shocking terms after colonial troops were routed at Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu in September 1868. 
In a lengthy editorial that reflected on the deaths of Gustavus von Tempsky and others at the hands of Titokowaru’s force, the newspaper called for the ‘extermination’ of Taranaki Maori, declaring that:

There is no use blinking the ugly facts of the case. There are a certain number of natives on the West Coast who will never cease to rob and burn and murder. These men must be shown no merc…

J D Stout Research Fellowship

Earlier this week came the official announcement that I had been awarded the John David Stout Research Fellowhip for 2014:
The Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies is delighted to announce that the John David Stout Research Fellow for 2014 will be Dr Vincent O'Malley, research director of HistoryWorks Ltd. Dr O’Malley’s most recent book, The Meeting Place: Maori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840 (2012), was a finalist in the general non-fiction category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards this year. He is the author of four books on relationships between Maori and Crown and Pakeha, in addition to many book chapters and journal articles, and  reports for the Treaty of Waitangi settlements processes. During the fellowship, Dr O’Malley will be working on a book on the Waikato War, 1863-4. This was a pivotal turning point in the history of New Zealand, yet no major study has been undertaken since 1879; it is apt that Dr O’Malley will be exploring this subject in th…

'Framed in Forgetfulness?' The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852

This week I gave a paper at the New Zealand Historical Association biennial conference, held at the University of Otago. My paper explored the understandings of British parliamentarians as to the impact of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 on Maori communities. Here is the abstract:

Asked to nominate the point at which relations between Maori and Pakeha had really begun to turn sour in the nineteenth century, many historians would likely nominate the passage of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852. As Chichester Fortescue famously told the House of Commons in 1861, from the time of the 1852 Act the governor had been ‘[o]bliged to act under a Constitution which appeared to have been framed in forgetfulness of the existence of large native tribes within the dominions to which it was intended to apply’. With the benefit of hindsight it is all too easy to assume that ‘absent-minded imperialists’ really had forgotten their obligations to Maori. But a close analysis of British Parliame…

The Invasion of Parihaka: An Eyewitness Account, 5 November 1881

On the anniversary of the invasion of Parihaka I am reposting my earlier piece on the events of that day, with additional links at the bottom of the page to further sources of information available online.


On 5 November 1881 Native Minister John Bryce led 1600 Armed Constabulary into the South Taranaki settlement of Parihaka, arresting leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. Over the following weeks the remaining residents were forcibly dispersed and the settlement destroyed. The ‘crime’ of the people of Parihaka had been to peacefully resist the confiscation of their lands.

Over the years, these events have been described — and the enormous injustice that occurred — exposed in a number of secondary works. These include George Rusden’s 1883 History of New Zealand, Dick Scott’s influential account Ask That Mountain (1975), Hazel Riseborough’s Days of Darkness (1989), and Rachel Buchanan’s The Parihaka Album (2010).

Yet our knowledge of these events would be much the p…

The Fall of Meremere, 31 October-1 November 1863

Following the invasion of Waikato by British imperial troops in July 1863, local Maori sought to slow their advance south through the construction of a series of defensive pa (fortifications), of which Meremere was among the most impressive. Its construction was first observed by General Cameron on 15 August, when he noted that Maori had assembled there in considerable numbers and occupied a commanding post on the right bank of the Waikato River, about two miles beyond the junction with the Whangamarino River. Rifle pits were being thrown up in all directions and one observer estimated that there were already about 1100 men there by the end of August. Construction of the pa soaked up a considerable proportion of the total number of defenders available to the Kingitanga. But with British troop numbers continuing to surge, and the Waikato River now commanded by armed steamers that were capable of causing enormous damage, continuing occupation of Meremere was becoming increasingly untena…

The Origins of the Maori King Movement - An Insider's Account

There are multiple accounts as to the origins of the Kingitanga, or Maori King Movement, which came to prominence with the instalment of Potatau Te Wherowhero as the first Maori King in 1858. Much less common is a detailed insider’s description of the emergence of the movement and its aims and objectives. Honana Te Maioha belonged to Ngati Mahuta and was a cousin of Matutaera, better known as King Tawhiao, the second Maori King. He was intimately involved in the Kingitanga and had been active in its formation. In 1882 he gave a detailed description of how the movement had come about. It emerged at a time when the Kingitanga was at the forefront of public attention. The year before King Tawhiao had laid down his arms at Alexandra (Pirongia) and declared an end to the war fought in the 1860s. Subsequent to this he travelled to a number of European settlements, includiing, in January 1881, to Auckland. There, Tawhiao and his entourage, including Honana Te Maioha, were feted by a grateful…

Maori and the Royal Tours of 1901 and 1920

The importance of the Treaty of Waitangi to Maori is reflected in their strong interest in meeting with the person of the Crown; their Treaty partner. This was reflected in the sending of various Maori delegations to London to seek an audience with the monarch, but in the early twentieth century there were two opportunities for Maori to welcome royal visitors to their own country. In 1901 the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall (the Duke being the second son of Edward VII) toured New Zealand. The focus for Maori was on the royal visit to Rotorua, with thousands from iwi all over the country (except Tainui Kingitanga) organising a Maori welcome and cultural display. Next was a post-war tour by the Prince of Wales (Prince Edward, son of George V) in 1920. The Rotorua leg of the tour was again the focus for Maori, featuring a warm welcome from thousands of Maori, followed by an enormous Maori pageant. 

1. The Royal couple arrive at Rotorua on their 1901 tour
‘The Reception at Rotorua. Enthusiasti…

NZ Post Book Awards

Although my book was not a winner on the night, I thought I should share a couple of images from the NZ Post Book Awards held this week. The judges noted that 62 books were entered in the general non-fiction category - more than any other - so it was very gratifying for The Meeting Place: Maori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840 to be recognised in the top four. The judges commented in their general remarks that this was a 'fine and illuminating example' of history writing. In their detailed comments on my book they stated that:

The hopeless miscomprehension and miscommunication of initial encounters between Māori and Pākehā at times bordered on the darkest of tragi‐comedies, but it was inevitable – although not inevitably well recorded in our history books – that as time went on comprehension, communication and eventually mutual accommodation would come to pass. It was not simply a case of Maori bending to the will of Europeans, but of both finding what Vincent O’Malley calls a…

Early Dreams and Meeting Places

Early Dreams and Meeting Places
Monday 19 August, 6pm
Arty Bees, Manners St
Free entry

Discussion featuring three history authors: Chris MacLean, Peter Alsop and Vincent O’Malley. Join them as they discuss their finalist books and research.
Free entry.

"The Meeting Place" Shortlisted for NZ Post Book Awards

It was a great thrill this week when my most recent book was announced as one of four finalists in the general non-fiction category for the 2013 NZ Post Book Awards.

The Meeting Place: Maori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840 was published by Auckland University Press last year. It explores the early relationships between Maori and Pakeha across New Zealand and argues that, over time, both parties learned to rub along with one another because both had things of value that the other wanted. But that world of mutual self-interest changed dramatically in the decades after 1840 as a large influx of new settlers upset the previous rough-and-ready balance of power upon which mostly harmonious relations had been built.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held in August on 28 August. In the meanwhile members of the public are invited to play their part by selecting the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Voting ends on Sunday 18 August, with the winner also to be announced…

Ngati Haua Deed of Settlement Signing Ceremony

I had the great privilege of travelling to Rukumoana Marae, near Morrinsville, on 18 July this year for the signing of the Ngati Haua deed of settlement and formal apology from the Crown.

The date for the occasion had been specially selected to mark the anniversary of one of several petitions filed by the great Ngati Haua rangatira Wiremu Tamihana on 18 July 1865. In his petition, Wiremu Tamihana referred to the anguish of being called ‘an evil man, a rebel’ and a murderer. He called on the government to establish an independent inquiry into the causes of the Waikato War and to restore the lands wrongly confiscated from Ngati Haua and other Waikato Maori.

Although the Crown rejected Wiremu Tamihana’s pleas, the apology read out to the large crowd assembled at Rukumoana Marae by Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson finally acknowledged the great injustices inflicted on Ngati Haua, who had been reduced to virtual landlessness through confiscation and other Crown actions.

In a…

Cooperation and Empire Conference

In June of this year I attended a conference on ‘Cooperation and Empire’ at the University of Bern, Switzerland. The conference, which was attended by scholars from around the world, was notable for a substantial New Zealand presence, led by James Belich, formerly at the Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, now Beit Professor of Imperial and Commonwealth History at Oxford University.

My own paper explored the role of kupapa in the New Zealand Wars of the nineteenth century. I explored how a term which initially meant those who stooped or remained low (that is, people who remained neutral in a conflict) had today come to assume almost entirely negative connotations. I argued that the notion that kupapa were ‘Uncle Toms’ or traitors was fundamentally wrong.

Far from selling out their people, those Maori also referred to in English as ‘Queenites’, ‘friendlies’ or ‘loyalists’ were endeavouring to advance the interests of their communities through strategic alliance …

Book Review: Lynette Russell, "Roving Mariners: Australian Aboriginal Whalers and Sealers in the Southern Oceans, 1790-1870"

Lynette Russell.Roving Mariners: Australian Aboriginal Whalers and Sealers in the Southern Oceans, 1790-1870. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012. xiv + 221 pp. $80.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4384-4423-9; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-4384-4424-6. Reviewed by Vincent O'Malley (HistoryWorks)
Published on H-Empire (July, 2013)
Commissioned by Charles V. Reed
The Hybrid World of Whaling and Sealing The whaling and sealing industries that emerged in the Pacific and Southern oceans from the late eighteenth century have attracted significant interest from historians over recent decades. A particular focus has often been on the relationship between the whalers/sealers and indigenous groups they encountered and interacted with on a frequent basis. But that represents something of a false binary. It has long been known that New Zealand Maori and other Polynesian and South Pacific communities took an active part in sealing and whaling work.
Now, thanks to Lynette Russell’s sho…

Wellington History Talks

An interesting series of talks coming up soon at the Wellington City Library:

On Wednesdays from 12.30-1.30pm during the month of August, the Central Library will be hosting a series of history talks covering the social, urban and Māori history of Wellington.

Have a read of the programme below, and come along!

Wednesday 7 August: The Flight to South Karori: How Katherine Mansfield’s family coped with life and death in the time of cholera (1890-93) by Redmer Yska

Wednesday 14 August:Te Upoko o te Ika, 1840s: A Struggle over Power, Mana and Resources by Hēni Collins

Wednesday 21 August:Radical Wellington: Philip Josephs, the Freedom Group & the Great Strike of 1913 by Jared Davidson

Wednesday 28 August:He tohu aroha – the protective role of Māori cloaks by Awhina Tamarapa

The Sham Ultimatum to Waikato Maori

Amidst the various references to the 150th anniversary of the invasion of Waikato on 12 July were many that referred to an ultimatum ‘issued’ to the Waikato tribes on 11 July 1863, that is, one day before British troops crossed the Mangatawhiri River. That ultimatum declared that:

Europeans quietly living on their own lands in Waikato have been driven away; their property has been plundered; their wives and children have been taken from them. By the instigation of some of you, officers and soldiers were murdered at Taranaki. Others of you have since expressed approval of these murders. Crimes have been committed in other parts of the island, and the criminals have been rescued, or sheltered under the color [sic] of your authority.
You are now assembling in armed bands; you are constantly threatening to come down the river to ravage the settlement of Auckland, and to murder peaceable settlers. Some of you offered a safe passage through your territories to armed parties contemplating su…