Histories Past and Present

This website

Mount Taranaki, taken from Oakura by Bryn Thomas, photographer based in Arrowtown.This website was first established in 2001, and was launched at the Annual Conference of the New Zealand Historical Association in Christchurch in November 2001.

The site was launched during a session where two papers on Māori history were presented. One paper was presented by Dr Danny Keenan [the writer of this site] on Aspects of the New Zealand Wars, with a second paper presented by Dr Manuka Henare on The Declaration of Independence 1835. The session was chaired by Dr James Belich.

The site was established to present a Māori perspective of the New Zealand Wars – or, the Land Wars, which is the term preferred by Māori.

Hence the Māori name given by kaumātua Samuel Lou Macdonald of Ngāti Mutunga, North Taranaki, when the site was established – Ngā Pākanga Whenua O Mua, the wars over the land. In assigning this name to us, Lou was reaching far back, into antiquity. 


Historiography and the New Zealand Wars 

Historiography is the study of ‘how history is written’. It’s also about how histories are seen and interpreted today.

John Crawford & Ian McGibbon (eds), 'Tutu Te Puehu. New Perspectives on the New Zealand Wars', Steele Roberts Aotearoa, Wellington, 2018.

Like most historical topics, the New Zealand Wars have attracted the attention of historians who have written many different things about those conflicts. As a consequence, a New Zealand Wars historiography has developed since the 1860s.

A brief summary of this historiography can be accessed by clicking here # New Zealand Wars? What’s in a Name?  This summary focuses on questions like what are we doing when we put names to history?

To see an expanded version of the summary, as published in 2009, click here- # Full Historiography Essay. The reference for this full version is Danny Keenan, ‘Introduction’ in Wars Without End, The Land Wars in Nineteenth Century New Zealand,  Penguin Books, Revised Edition, September 2009, pp. 29-43.

Overview of the New Zealand Wars  as written by Danny for TE ARA  

Te Ara is the New Zealand government’s awesome National Electronic Encyclopedia and is a treasure trove of information about New Zealand history, politics, society, culture, geography, economy arts and, not least, people. The website is administered by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Stature of Te Keepa Te Rangihiwihui, Moutoa Gardens, Whanganui. Immediately behind is the old Native Land Court Building.

To see an overview of the New Zealand Wars written by Danny for the Te Ara website, click here – The Wars on Te Ara.

The Musket Wars

Generally speaking, the New Zealand Wars do not include the earlier inter-tribal ‘musket wars’ which were fought with great savagery all over Aotearoa between the early 1800s and the early 1840s.

Our definition of the New Zealand Wars does not include these wars, which is not to say they were not important because they were. To read about these musket wars however, click here – The Musket Wars.