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]

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Great War for New Zealand and the Making of Auckland

In The Great War for New Zealand, historian Vincent O’Malley tells the story of the Waikato War of the 1860s – how it set back Māori-Pākehā relations by generations and changed the course of New Zealand history for good. Here, in an original essay for The Spinoff, he explains how the war helped create modern Auckland.

In 1845 the small township of Auckland (population 3635) faced an existential crisis. War raged in the north and it was rumoured that the assistance of the powerful Tainui tribes had been sought for an attack on the settlement. A nightmare scenario for the town’s residents was the prospect of a simultaneous assault from the north and south, with Ngāpuhi and Tainui combining to virtually assure Auckland’s destruction.

Yet when a delegation came south to solicit assistance from paramount Tainui rangatira Te Wherowhero, the response was emphatic. “You must fight me if you come on to Auckland; for these Europeans are under my protection,” he told them. In Māori terms, Te Wherowhero made the position even clearer, referring to Auckland as the hem of his cloak and in this way placing the settlement under his personal tapu. An attack on Auckland would be an attack on him.

Reinforcing this point, in August 1845 the government built a cottage for Te Wherowhero within Auckland Domain, close to where the museum currently stands. It was one of several residences the chief had across the Tāmaki region. A year earlier the Tainui tribes (population 18,400) had hosted a massive hākari (feast) on their Remuera estate, attended by over 3400 Māori guests and more than 1000 Europeans. There could be no more telling reminder of the immense power and prestige of Waikato-Tainui at this time.

[Read more at The Spinoff]

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Great War for New Zealand - A Book for all New Zealanders

The arrival of a landmark book for all New Zealanders

Me maumahara tātou – we must remember. Not lest we forget. We must remember...It has to be that we go forward from a position of enlightenment, of māramatanga.

Rahui Papa, Chairman, Te Arataura, Waikato-Tainui, at the Wellington launch of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 19 October 2016

Hailed as the first single-volume history of the Waikato War since 1879, the publication of The Great War for New Zealand by Vincent O’Malley has been met with a nationwide response.

The first official copy was presented to King Tuheitia and endorsed by tribal leaders at the Kīngitanga’s annual Waahi Poukai on 8 October 2016. It was only fitting that the people of Waikato-Tainui received the book first. As Vincent O’Malley said during his speech at the Waahi Poukai, it was time New Zealanders learned about the history that Tainui and other iwi carried alone for so many generations. The long queue of book buyers which formed after the official proceedings ended was a further endorsement by the people who are at the heart of the book.

At Te Papa’s Rongomaraeroa Marae on 19 October, Rahui Papa and Vincent O’Malley were joined by the Rt Hon Jim Bolger and the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell, Minister for Māori Development, in marking the book’s arrival. Jim Bolger explicitly linked events of the past and contemporary ignorance of those events with present-day social ills: ‘We should teach our history to every young New Zealander going through school, so they feel comfortable with it. And if they’re comfortable with it, they’ll be more comfortable as a society. If ever there was a time that it’s necessary, [it] is in a world that’s becoming more globalised, we have every culture, race, history and religion going to be with us [and] we need to know our own. Yesterday we had a very sad announcement. It was that we’re going to spend a billion making more prison beds. That, sadly, is a mark of failure.’

The other speakers echoed his conviction that the knowledge embodied by the book will produce social cohesion if widely shared. Waikato-Tainui leader Rahui Papa said ‘Vincent’s book…elevates some of the discussions, some of those things that people are shy to talk about. There is no more shyness, we have to embrace our history, we have to confront our history, we have to get over our history and we can only do that together.’

And at the Te Papa event, Emeritus Professor Atholl Anderson, speaking for the Bridget Williams Books Publishing Trust, announced that The Great War for New Zealand will shortly be placed in all secondary school libraries in November, enabled by generous funding from the Freemasons Foundation. This initiative was applauded by the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell, another of the speakers at Te Papa, who described it as an ‘absolutely huge’ gesture.

Young New Zealanders with a thirst for knowledge about their own stories have already recognised the significance of this history. In 2015 Ōtorohanga College students organised a petition calling for a national day of commemoration for victims of the New Zealand Wars, gaining over 12,000 signatures. The Government has since confirmed that such a day will be held, for the first time, on 28 October next year.

The Ōtorohanga students were presented with copies of The Great War for New Zealand at a third event held at Waikato Museum on 9 October. Petition organiser Leah Bell said of the book, ‘it’s important. It’s so important. Especially for our cultural identity. The more we understand our history, the more we understand who we are and the more united we can be.’ Fellow student Charles Ward acknowledged the book as representing more than just a historical resource: ‘It's basically awareness of our history – being able to just love who we are and who we were and getting everyone to know we are a nation that had wars and the wars weren't just overseas.’

This moving nationwide response to Vincent O’Malley’s book is set to continue with a major event at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on 21 November. Mihingarangi Forbes will chair a discussion, marking the book’s publication, between Rahui Papa and Tom Roa (Waikato-Tainui) and Vincent O’Malley. This is a public event and all are welcome.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What a nation chooses to remember and forget: the war for New Zealand's history

Early in 2014 a group of school students from a small town in rural New Zealand took a trip to some nearby historical sites. Guided by local Māori elders, the students from Otorohanga College encountered a history that was all but unknown to them. As Leah Bell later recalled, “It’s shocking to hear that there were massacres half an hour from where you live, not that long along.”

Ōrākau and Rangiaowhia, where the school party visited, saw two of the bloodiest confrontations of the Waikato war – a conflict between British imperial troops and the local Tainui tribes that had been fought exactly 150 years earlier (1863-64). It was the largest and most significant in a wider series of clashes that took place in New Zealand between 1845 and 1872 as Māori communities resisted colonial conquest and expansion.
For a time in the 1860s there were more British troops in New Zealand than almost anywhere else in the empire outside India. And the Waikato war was the defining conflict in New Zealand history – a battle between two competing visions of the nation’s future. British victory paved the way for settler and European hegemony, casting aside Māori aspirations for partnership and shared prosperity for at least the next century. Instead, sweeping and indiscriminate land confiscations pushed Māori tribes to the margins of colonial society, condemning generations to lives of poverty.

That history was barely acknowledged beyond the descendants of those on the receiving end of British bullets. Few students learn about it in school. Many of the sites where these conflicts took place are neglected (many are not even signposted). There were no official commemorations, no museums and few memorials.

[Read more at the Guardian webpage]

Friday, 28 October 2016

The Great War for New Zealand - An Auckland War Memorial Museum Event

Join us to mark a significant new publication on the Waikato War with Mihingarangi Forbes (Chair), leading the discussion between Tom Roa and Rahui Papa (Waikato-Tainui) and author Vincent O’Malley.

When: Monday 21 November 2016, 5.45 for 6 p.m.
Where: Auditorium, Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, South Atrium Entrance, The Domain, Auckland

Spanning nearly two centuries from first contact through to settlement and apology, The Great War for New Zealand focuses on the human impact of the Waikato War, its origins and aftermath. Launched at the Waahi Poukai on 8 October, the book arrives as the Government announces a national day of commemoration for the land wars and key sites are returned to iwi.

Mihi Forbes (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Paoa) is an international award-winning journalist and television presenter, currently Specialist Correspondent, Māori Affairs, for Radio New Zealand. Tom Roa (Puurekireki Marae) is Negotiator for Te Arataura, Waikato-Tainui, and a lecturer in Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato. Rahui Papa (Poohara Marae) is Chairman for Te Arataura, Waikato-Tainui, and currently co-chairs the Ngaati Koroki-Kahukura Tribal Trust. Vincent O’Malley is a founding partner of HistoryWorks, and has written a number of books on New Zealand history prior to The Great War for New Zealand.

All are welcome; no RSVP required.