Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Great War for New Zealand in Wanaka

Thanks to everyone who turned out for a packed session at Wanaka's Festival of Colour on Sunday 9 April to hear me in conversation with Jim Bolger and chair Paul Diamond on 'The Great War for New Zealand'.

Jim Bolger, Paul Diamond, Vincent O'Malley

Mr Bolger again reiterated the need for New Zealanders to learn and embrace the history of their own nation, and provided insight into the 1995 settlement with Waikato-Tainui that happened during his time as prime minister. He has previously spoken in favour of the New Zealand Wars becoming a core history subject and talked about this at the time my book was launched last October.

Copies of The Great War for New Zealand sold out following the session, with Paper Plus Wanaka promising to order more stock in for those who had missed out.

Meanwhile, late last month a reprint of the book landed in the country, as heavy demand saw supplies of the large initial print run nearly exhausted.

Stay tuned for news and notice of further book-related talks and events to follow around the country over the remainder of the year.   

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Festival of Colour: The Great War for New Zealand

In April I will be travelling to Wanaka to take part in the Festival of Colour, Wanaka's flagship celebration of the arts and literature. On Sunday 9 April, I will be in conversation with former Prime Minister Jim Bolger at the Central Lake Trust Crystal Palace. Mr Bolger has publicly called for the history of the New Zealand Wars to be taught in schools. Further information, including online booking, available here.   

A former Prime Minister and a working historian discuss not Gallipoli but the Waikato War, a war which in so many ways has done more to shape this country than either of the World Wars. Unlike the US, we know little and do little to commemorate our own wars of the 1860s, the battles and the atrocities. Yet they were a battle between two competing visions of the nation’s future.

Jim Bolger was the architect of the Tainui settlement leading to the Queen signing an apology in 1995 for committing British troops to do battle in the Waikato on false pretences. Vincent O’Malley has carefully documented this landmark conflict, its origins and its aftermath.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Talk: The War that Shaped a Nation

Historian Vincent O'Malley discusses his new book The Great War For New Zealand, an account of war in Waikato between 1863 and 1864. In association with Bridget Williams Books and Bruce McKenzie Bookseller for the Festival of Cultures. 

Where: Globe Theatre, Cnr Main and Pitt Sts, Palmerston North 

When: Sunday 5 March 2017 4:00pm

Admission Free


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Inglorious Dastards: Rangiaowhia Raid and the 'great war for New Zealand'

A George Grey-inspired attack that killed up to 100 Maori men, women and children to crush a non-existent uprising signalled “a great war for New Zealand” was being waged. 

Today, the only visible remnant is St Paul’s Anglican Church. Further up the road is an old Catholic cemetery where a mission station once stood. The two churches marked the outer limits of Rangiaowhia, a bustling Maori settlement 5km east of Te Awamutu. In the 1850s, it was one of New Zealand’s most important agricultural hubs. But all that changed with a devastating and controversial raid early in 1864. It is a story few New Zealanders know anything about.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-C2
Throughout the 1850s, the Waikato tribes were among the most prosperous, not only feeding the settlers of Auckland but also contributing a significant chunk of the country’s export earnings through wheat sold to the gold miners of Victoria and California. The area around Rangiaowhia was the country’s granary, and in 1849, two young chiefs from the settlement proudly sent a bag of flour ground at their own mill all the way to Queen Victoria. Crowds of Waikato Maori flocked to view the two lithographs of the royal family the Queen sent them in return.
[Read more at NZ Listener]

Friday, 17 February 2017

Settler Colonial History, Commemoration and White Backlash: Remembering the New Zealand Wars

'Settler Colonial History, Commemoration and White Backlash: Remembering the New Zealand Wars', co-authored with Dr Joanna Kidman, has recently been published in its online version by the journal Settler Colonial Studies.

When students from a North Island secondary school began a petition to Parliament in 2014 seeking a national day of commemoration for the victims of the New Zealand Wars fought in the nineteenth century, they sparked a national debate about how, why and whether New Zealanders should remember the wars fought on their own shores. Although the petition attracted significant support, it also drew its share of criticism. This paper considers the subsequent debate through the lens of public submissions to Parliament on the petition. A particular focus is on the nearly three-quarters of submissions that opposed the petition. These are examined within the context of wider Pākehā (non-Māori) unease at the unravelling of settler colonial forms of national identity since the 1970s, and the emergence of more nuanced and diverse kinds of identification. For many Pākehā New Zealanders these developments were deeply troubling; and although the numbers involved in actively opposing the petition were small, they represented the extreme edge of broader societal discomfort over the increased visibility of Māori interests and concerns over the same period. For those who cried ‘enough is enough’, the New Zealand Wars petition served as a particularly acute rallying point. The backlash that followed was one that harked back to what some Pākehā saw as simpler, more homogenous and harmonious times. By contrast, the young New Zealanders responsible for organising the petition highlighted the need for a more honest owning up to the nation’s settler colonial history.


Monday, 9 January 2017

A Tale of Two Rangatira: Rewi Maniapoto, Wiremu Tamihana and the Waikato War

Following publication of The Great War for New Zealand I continue to write and publish on the Waikato War, including this article published in the latest Journal of the Polynesian Society that takes a more biographical approach, comparing Rewi Maniapoto of Ngāti Maniapoto and Wiremu Tamihana of Ngāti Hauā. Both were great rangatira in their own right but their reputations have contrasted significantly over time and my article critiques the still surprisingly prevalent notion of 'good' Wiremu Tamihana versus 'bad' Rewi Maniapoto (see the abstract of the article below).

I was also delighted to have contributed the cover image for the journal, a photograph I took of the Tohu Maumahara at Rangiriri early in 2015. As discussed in my book, the monument was unveiled on the 149th anniversary of the Rangiriri battle in November 2012.

Abstract: The depiction of Ngāti Maniapoto generally and Rewi Maniapoto in particular as extremists with an almost fanatical determination to fight the British runs deep in the historiography of the New Zealand Wars, all the way from John Featon to G. W. Rusden, James Cowan to Keith Sinclair and others. And a corollary argument is that Ngāti Maniapoto, through their actions and gestures, provoked the Crown (whether justly or unjustly) into launching an invasion of the Waikato district in July 1863, and then escaped virtually scot-free from the subsequent confiscation of lands. Even fierce critics of the government’s actions in the 1860s thus end up at least partly legitimising or justifying war and confiscation by reference to the supposed partial provocation of Ngāti Maniapoto and their leader. Their stance is often contrasted with that of Wiremu Tamihana, who is said to have been leader of the “moderate” Kīngitanga faction. This article argues that the differences between the two rangatira have been overstated. Wiremu Tamihana and Rewi Maniapoto had more in common than divided them. Furthermore, rather than conceptualising this in terms of “moderate” versus “extremist”, the difference between the two rangatira might be better conceptualised as idealist versus realist.  Considered within the context of Māori custom, moreover, both men operated within the accepted limits of chiefly behaviour, which was concerned above all with questions of mana.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

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

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]