|AUP - rrp $45.00|
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
New Book tells story of Māori/ Pākehā encounters in volatile pre-Treaty New Zealand
Spanning an extraordinary time of change, The Meeting Place: Māori and Pākehā Encounters, 1642–1840 by historian Vincent O’Malley, published by Auckland University Press, tells the story of encounters between Māori and Pākehā in the raw, sometimes volatile landscape that was pre-Treaty New Zealand.
In 1642, Māori discovered Europe. It was a fleeting and ultimately unhappy experience, probably dimly remembered or understood for the next 127 years. But with the rediscovery of Europe in 1769 there was no escape. An irreversible relationship between Māori and Pākehā was thereafter locked in, one in which both parties came to define themselves by reference to the other.
“First meetings can be awkward”, O’Malley says, “especially if the parties involved have little in common, and are unable to freely communicate with each other. Language obstacles can be overcome quickly enough where there is a will, but the bigger cultural barriers might remain. Customs and practices that come naturally to one might be regarded as ridiculous or even deeply offensive by the other.”
A modus operandi needed to be found in early New Zealand, but on whose terms, exactly?
The Meeting Place extends our early contact story into the period following that of Anne Salmond’s two major works on the subject. It charts the initial period of mutual incomprehension and occasional violence, the developing awareness of one another that eventually gave rise to a middle ground after 1814 – a rough-and-ready working relationship in place by the time the missionaries arrived.
He examines the various types of encounter — economic, sexual, religious, political — and shows how Māori society was influenced and reshaped by its exposure to the outside world, as well as some of the practical implications of the middle ground.
The Meeting Place concludes by asking what lessons we might draw from the unique time. What was it about the 1814–1840 period that made it so special and what brought about the eventual demise of the middle ground?
About the Author
Vincent O’Malley was the first PhD graduate in New Zealand Studies from Victoria University of Wellington. He has nearly two decades experience as a professional historian in the field of treaty research and is a founding partner of Wellington consultancy HistoryWorks. He is the co-editor of The Treaty of Waitangi Companion (AUP, 2010), the author of Agents of Autonomy and co-author of The Beating Heart. He wrote The Meeting Place with the assistance of a History Award from the NZ History Research Trust Fund.