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.