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New Zealand Herald Book of the Year 2016: The Great War for New Zealand

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The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000
by Vincent O'Malley
(Bridget Williams Books, $80)


Reviewed by Jim Eagles

It is a sad commentary on New Zealand's interest in its own history that the most recent previous book-length account of the conflict in the Waikato, which had such a huge impact on the development of this country, was written in 1879 by John Featon, an artillery volunteer in the war who later became a journalist.

However, Vincent O'Malley's epic volume almost justifies the wait. This is a great book in every way. It is massive in size; its 688 pages printed on high-quality paper weighing in at a mighty 2.5kg (so heavy it is awkward to read in bed).







The only real flaw in the production is that the index is not up to the standard required of such an important work.

It is impressive in its scope, embracing not only the actual fighting in 1863-64, but also
the much more important causes and consequences.

[Read more at NZ Herald]

The Great War for New Zealand and the Making of Auckland

In The Great War for New Zealand, historian Vincent O’Malley tells the story of the Waikato War of the 1860s – how it set back Māori-Pākehā relations by generations and changed the course of New Zealand history for good. Here, in an original essay for The Spinoff, he explains how the war helped create modern Auckland.

In 1845 the small township of Auckland (population 3635) faced an existential crisis. War raged in the north and it was rumoured that the assistance of the powerful Tainui tribes had been sought for an attack on the settlement. A nightmare scenario for the town’s residents was the prospect of a simultaneous assault from the north and south, with Ngāpuhi and Tainui combining to virtually assure Auckland’s destruction.

Yet when a delegation came south to solicit assistance from paramount Tainui rangatira Te Wherowhero, the response was emphatic. “You must fight me if you come on to Auckland; for these Europeans are under my protection,” he told them. In Māori…

The Great War for New Zealand - A Book for all New Zealanders

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The arrival of a landmark book for all New Zealanders

Me maumahara tātou – we must remember. Not lest we forget. We must remember...It has to be that we go forward from a position of enlightenment, of māramatanga.

Rahui Papa, Chairman, Te Arataura, Waikato-Tainui, at the Wellington launch of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 19 October 2016

Hailed as the first single-volume history of the Waikato War since 1879, the publication of The Great War for New Zealand by Vincent O’Malley has been met with a nationwide response.

The first official copy was presented to King Tuheitia and endorsed by tribal leaders at the Kīngitanga’s annual Waahi Poukai on 8 October 2016. It was only fitting that the people of Waikato-Tainui received the book first. As Vincent O’Malley said during his speech at the Waahi Poukai, it was time New Zealanders learned about the history that Tainui and other iwi carried alone for so many generations. The long …

What a nation chooses to remember and forget: the war for New Zealand's history

Early in 2014 a group of school students from a small town in rural New Zealand took a trip to some nearby historical sites. Guided by local Māori elders, the students from Otorohanga College encountered a history that was all but unknown to them. As Leah Bell later recalled, “It’s shocking to hear that there were massacres half an hour from where you live, not that long along.”

Ōrākau and Rangiaowhia, where the school party visited, saw two of the bloodiest confrontations of the Waikato war – a conflict between British imperial troops and the local Tainui tribes that had been fought exactly 150 years earlier (1863-64). It was the largest and most significant in a wider series of clashes that took place in New Zealand between 1845 and 1872 as Māori communities resisted colonial conquest and expansion.

For a time in the 1860s there were more British troops in New Zealand than almost anywhere else in the empire outside India. And the Waikato war was the defining conflict in Ne…

The Great War for New Zealand - An Auckland War Memorial Museum Event