Showing posts from January, 2016

Book Review: Hazel Petrie, "Outcasts of the Gods? The Struggle over Slavery in Māori New Zealand"

[The following review was first published in Metro magazine, October 2015.] For most people slavery conjures up images of cotton fields and sugar plantations, capricious white masters, whippings and abject cruelty. Hazel Petrie’s new history of Māori captivity opens with Jake the Muss from Once Were Warriors blaming his own violent tendencies on 500 years of slavery and humiliation. Meanwhile, wife Beth observes that ‘Us Maoris used to practise slavery just like them poor Negroes had to endure in America’. It is a common assumption. Except the reality, as Petrie succeeds in showing, was considerably different. Although some Europeans then and now liked to claim that Māori customs such as slavery were ended as a result of exposure to a superior civilisation, the evidence suggests quite a contrary and surprising chain of influence. Once missionaries set up shop in northern New Zealand from 1814 onwards, they attracted whalers and others to the area, most of whom willingly