‘Hobson’s Pledge’? Unlikely ..

New Zealand history is fraught with myth – things that never happened, or at least, the evidence is sketchy. ‘Hobson’s pledge’ is one example. Was there ever such a thing? During the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, we are told, Lieutenant Governor Hobson (right) shook hands with each Māori signatory, saying ‘he iwi tahi tatou – we are now one people’. But did this actually happen? Where is… Read more »

The Hunt for Willie Boy

The book ‘The Hunt for Willie Boy’ was published in 1994 and tells the story of a manhunt in Southern California in September 1929. Written by two fine ‘white’ historians (as Pākehā are called in the USA), the book’s essential point – how ‘Indian-hating has so uncritically permeated popular culture in the USA – certainly resonates here in New Zealand. The Manhunt The focus of the manhunt was a young Chemehuevi Indian named Willie Boy who, it was… Read more »

Wars Without End

The New Zealand Wars ended in 1872, at least, according to most historians. And, militarily speaking, this makes perfect sense. But for Māori, the wars never ended, with the conflicts over land and te tino rangatirantanga – or sovereignty – moving from the battle fields into the Courts and Parliament. The Native Land Court, in particular, proved to be a blunt weapon used by the Crown to acquire customary Māori… Read more »

The Words We Use

Moves to change the language on old monuments in Whanganui are annoying some people. Plans to update colonial descriptions of Māori have been mocked in the local press. Words like fanaticism and barbarism are due to be qualified, with an interpretation panel to be added. But some locals are arguing that these words should stay as they are, because Māori really were ‘fanatics’ and they really were ‘barbaric’. The continuing use of such words though, as if still historically relevant, shows how much the language of colonisation… Read more »

Māori Historians of the Wars

Many historians have written about the New Zealand wars; and most have done a fine job of their research and publications. The New Zealand Wars literature, as a result, is quite extensive. You can read about some of these publications, and how they have contributed to a wars historiography, by clicking here – writing about the wars. However, the number of Māori historians who have written about the wars is quite limited…. Read more »

The Land Wars on Film

There is no doubt true that the movies possess an enormous power to shape historical images, and memories. We see this of course in the USA, where popular perceptions of the West – and how it was won from Native Americans – continue to influence how ordinary American folk see their founding years. We don’t have anything like this in New Zealand, given that our movie industry isn’t as all-encompassing… Read more »

The Changing Land

It can be revealing to compare historic sites, as they once existed, to see how they appear today. This allows us to observe how much the sites have changed, over time – or, how much they remain the same. Landscapes change over time for many reasons, not least which is agricultural development, a real feature of this country’s past of course. # This page illustrates some of the New Zealand Wars sites – then and now…. Read more »