Showing posts from 2015

New Zealand Wars, Land Wars, Māori Wars?

Last week a group of Otorohanga College students presented a petition to Parliament calling for a national day of memorial to remember the wars fought on New Zealand’s own shores. It is a cause I support and the petition, which attracted over 10,000 signatures (including mine), and its handover attracted significant media interest. But one thing that caught my eye was the description used in media reports for the wars themselves. Many referred to these as the ‘ Land Wars ’, the ‘ New Zealand Land Wars ’ or even the ‘ Māori Land Wars ’. There appeared to be little awareness on the part of journalists that what historians have called the wars has changed over time. Do labels really matter? Well, they do because they convey some key messages about the nature of the wars, their causes and participants. To begin with it was common to refer to this series of conflicts as ‘the Māori Wars’. That was consistent with the British tendency to name wars after their enemies, like the Boer War, the

The Hinge of Fate: The Siege of Waerenga-a-Hika, 17-22 November 1865

On Tuesday this week I gave a well-attended public talk at the Tairawhiti Museum as part of commemorations organised by Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki to mark the 150th anniversary of the siege of Waerenga-a-Hika (17-22 November 1865). Prior to the talk, I also spoke with Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand about the siege and its commemoration. As I noted, Waerenga-a-Hika marked the start of a four or five year period at Turanga (Gisborne district) that contained among the darkest episodes in New Zealand history.  The Gisborne Herald provided this report on my talk , followed by an editorial supporting my call for more awareness of the history of Waerenga-a-Hika and the New Zealand Wars more broadly. Local kaumātua also endorsed calls for a national day of memorial marking the New Zealand Wars that had previously been suggested by Tainui representatives and others. Earlier in the week the local newspaper provided some useful historical background on the siege and the Waitangi Tribunal

Book Review: Tony Ballantyne, "Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Māori, and the Question of the Body"

In August 1837, a group of Anglican missionaries belonging to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) assembled at Waimate, one of their stations in the Bay of Islands, in northern New Zealand. There the party proceeded to torch a cottage, destroying the property within it and even shooting dead a horse. A week of prayer and fasting followed. The unfortunate horse’s owner, William Yate, had been dismissed from the CMS months earlier, following allegations of an inappropriate relationship with one of the crew on board the Prince Regent during its journey from England to New Zealand a year earlier. That in turn had resulted in several Māori male youths coming forward to testify that Yate had engaged in sex acts with them. Yate was hardly the first or last missionary to fall from grace, even within New Zealand. Yet as Tony Ballantyne argues in his new work, a close reading of Yate’s case has often been framed in terms of questions of sexual identity rather than the broader co

On Writing History, Colonization and Development in New Zealand between 1769 and 1900: The Seeds of Rangiatea

By   Ian Pool, Emeritus Professor, University of Waikato   Vincent O’Malley has generously made space available to me for a guest-blog in his series. I should mention, even before I start, that I owe a lot to Vincent’s patient responses to my questions and other forms of help in writing my book. Marching into the specialised territory of real historians is always a challenge for those of us who are on the fringes of the discipline.   In New Zealand this is particularly true, as Aotearoa has a significant corpus of powerful historical research – focused, technical monographs on many topics; elegantly written general narratives in the best humanities’ traditions;   and broader annales- type studies. In sum, I owe a large debt to historians. Above all, historians have carefully documented the 19 th century, for example , its prime and momentous events, the key actors and their actions, the constitutional trends, the interactions of Pākehā and Māori (albeit mainly from Pākehā