The hopeless miscomprehension and miscommunication of initial encounters between Māori and Pākehā at times bordered on the darkest of tragi‐comedies, but it was inevitable – although not inevitably well recorded in our history books – that as time went on comprehension, communication and eventually mutual accommodation would come to pass. It was not simply a case of Maori bending to the will of Europeans, but of both finding what Vincent O’Malley calls a meeting place where cultural cross‐pollination took place – at least until the post‐Treaty period. O’Malley tells his story with great eloquence, marshalling multiple sources and navigating them with the sense of nuance we want in a historian. Unlike the other three general non‐fiction finalists, he did not have access to living figures to flesh out his book, but nonetheless does so with skilful use of period quotes. O’Malley himself indicates the value of such a book for the New Zealand of today when he writes at the end of the “potential for a new middle ground to flower in the years ahead”.
Friday, 30 August 2013
NZ Post Book Awards
Although my book was not a winner on the night, I thought I should share a couple of images from the NZ Post Book Awards held this week. The judges noted that 62 books were entered in the general non-fiction category - more than any other - so it was very gratifying for The Meeting Place: Maori and Pakeha Encounters, 1642-1840 to be recognised in the top four. The judges commented in their general remarks that this was a 'fine and illuminating example' of history writing. In their detailed comments on my book they stated that: