Thesis writing … and ‘the romance of the archive’

Well it’s been some considerable time since I’ve posted. A principal reason for this is that I’ve been focussed on writing this past year, and will be for the forseeable future…

But I continue to make fascinating discoveries archivally.

I  sighted properly for the first time today the draft version of He Wakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni/ A Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, 1835. The Archives NZ details state this is in Henry Williams’ handwriting. After doing a comparison with some other Williams’ script, this seems accurate. It also places Williams at the centre of the Maori text’s preparation; this we know anyway based on other comments by James Busby. Archives NZ has helpfully made available online a copy of this most intriguing attempt to establish an early Maori state:


See the Archives full record entry here.

Another fascinating discovery, this time at the Alexander Turnbull Library, was a copy of the first Māori language dictionary of William Williams, which turns out was owned by Māori scholar, John White (see Te Ara bio for White here). The first entry on the inside cover has ‘John White, Hokianga, 20th Jany. [18]45’. This is followed by a second entry on the title page, ‘John White, Mata Hokianga, August 11th, 1850’. Images as follows:


As thesis construction continues I am hoping the archives continue to deliver serendipitous findings, or even those purely whimsical.

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