Te Rauparaha & Son.

I’m doing some work on the correspondence and recorded speeches of Tamihana Te Rauparaha, son of Ngāti Toa rangatira, Te Rauparaha. The father has the more historical fame (or infamy) attached to his name – in part for conquering deeds of the 1820s-30s in the Kāpiti Coast region and in Te Wai Pounamu. However the son was a significant figure in his own right: he brought Octavius Hadfield back to Kāpiti as a missionary in 1839; became a missionary himself to his father’s enemies in Te Wai Pounamu; was an early sheep farmer in the Otaki area; and promoted the idea of a Māori king in the early 1850s, before turning against the idea later in the decade. I am particularly interested in how he conceptualised the idea of a (Māori) monarchy in its imperial and New Zealand contexts, and in how (and why) he later imagined New Zealand as one political society under Kuini Wikitoria (Queen Victoria).

His image was recorded in various ways by European artists and photographers. Like all representations, they need a significant amount of interpretation (which I am not going to do now). But apart from their complexity as cultural productions, they remain amazing images. Here are only a few:

Tamihana Te Rauparaha - G F Angas (1852)

Angas, George French, 1822-1886. [Angas, George French] 1822-1886 :Tamihana Te Rauparaha [1852]. Ref: C-114-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22878621

Tamihana Te Rauparaha - photograph ca. 1860

Photographer unknown :Portrait of Tamihana Te Rauparaha with an unidentified man. Ref: PA2-2881. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22473958

Tamihana Te Rauparaha - W H W Davis - ca 1872

Davis, William Henry Whitmore, 1812-1901. Davis, W H (Wellington) fl 1873-1875 :Portrait of Tamihana Te Rauparaha 1819-1876. Ref: PA2-2122. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22849318

An historian who has recently done some important work on Tamihana Te Rauparaha, especially his writings on his father, is Arini Loader of Victoria University of Wellington.

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.

Alfred Brown’s library – Te Papa, Tauranga

I recently spent a couple of days in the library of this important Church Missionary Society missionary in New Zealand.

What I was struck by:

  • the striking aesthetic of this nineteenth century missionary’s book collection;
  • the way in which prayer books, hymnals, and bibles – including Maori language versions of these – were given as gifts between close friends and colleagues; to the extent where these particular types of books seem invested with significant Christian sentiment;
  • the obvious importance of history and historical knowledge – especially of England and Britain itself – to Brown and his contemporaries. A selection of history titles from the library includes histories of England by Oliver Goldsmith (1823), F. Guizot (1846), J. L. De Lolme (1822), S. Turner (1828, 1835), along with memoirs and biographies of stars in the Evangelical firmament, including Sir T. F. Buxton (leader of the House of Commons Select Committee on Aborigines 1836-37), William Wilberforce and Rev H. Venn (Clapham group);
  • there are also quite a few ‘political’ works, including a volume of the Protestant Magazine (1841), Henry Lytton Bulwer’s France, Social, Literary, Political (1834), and two volumes of Charles Dickens’ Household Words;
  • some curious items, including an 1803 edition of Francis Bacon’s works with an inscription ‘The Gift of Miss Georgiana Harriett Bridge’; and an 1807 edition of Hugo Grotius’ De Veritate Religionis Christianae, which is entirely in Latin and is extensively marked-up. In fact, this is about the only book that I came across that was marked-up. Unfortunately, Alfred Brown was not an annotator, however, this does not diminish the value of this collection in painting a picture of late Georgian and Victorian print culture – of course, with a strong Evangelical emphasis.

New faith, new law

I was in Ōtaki recently. One of the aims of my thesis is to explore the origins of the Kīngitanga on the Kāpiti coast. At Ōtaki is one of New Zealand’s oldest churches, Rangiātea. In wandering around the urupā there, I came upon the memorial to Matene Te Whiwhi-o-te-Rangi who, with Te Rauparaha’s son, Tamihana, went to the Bay of Islands in 1839 and brought back Octavius Hadfield (‘Harawira’) as a missionary. Te Whiwhi and Tamihana took the Christian message of peace and forgiveness (the new ‘law’) to the South Island, to Ngāti Toa’s enemies, and made peace. They acted as peacemakers in other contexts.

Te Whiwhi’s memorial stone tells this story and ends with an injunction to his people: ‘Kia mau ki te whakapono me te aroha’ – Hold fast to faith and love.

Conversations about land, war, etc

H T Kemp was a native interpreter and Crown purchase agent in the 1840s and 50s. He was a son of early missionary James Kemp. His 1870 English and Māori grammar fascinated me, including the way he starts with enumerating the various ‘tribes of the North Island’ from the 1870 census, and his ‘conversations’ including ‘conversation about land’ and ‘convsersation about war’. Here they are:

From the Archives…

My MA thesis of 2007-08 on New Zealand parliamentary debates of the 1850s-60s emphasized the way history imbued the consciousness of the Victorians. In particular, when conceptualizing the history of the indigenous people Victorian New Zealanders encountered, they placed them in their own civilizational history: as Europe’s history had once been peopled by savages and barbarians who were civilised over time by the influences of religion, law, science, arts and commerce (in varying degrees depending on the perspective), so Māori could become civilized through similar influences. It was not a racial/ racialist discourse, rather an historical and jurisprudential one.

This ‘civilizational perspective’ (ref. Peter Mandler) was reiterated to me again today when looking at catalogues of early New Zealand libraries. I was struck by the prominence of history as a category. In fact in the 1861 catalogue of the Auckland Provincial Council library, and in the 1867 catalogue of the Canterbury Provincial Council library, history was the first category of arrangement. Photos of the first pages of these are appended.

And then I was reading historical anthropologist Bernard S Cohn’s analysis of colonialism’s forms of knowledge. What leads his list of modalities of knowledge? Answer: history, or the ‘historiographic modality’:

In British India, this modality is the most complex, pervasive, and powerful, underlying a number of the other more specific modalities. History, for the British, has an ontological power in providing the assumptions about how the real social and natural worlds are constituted. History in its broadest sense was a zone of debate over the ends and means of their rulership in India.

Bernard S Cohn, ‘Colonialism and its forms of knowledge’, in S Howe, ed., The New Imperial Histories Reader (Routledge, 2010), p 119.

I’ve also been reading J G A Pocock on history and the subaltern. But that should wait for another post.