Reviews Books

Dec 21, 2016

The Great War For New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000

Nā Vincent O’Malley
Bridget Williams Books
RRP: $79.99
Review nā Gerry Te Kapa Coates

This is a big and lavishly illustrated book (almost 700 pages) on the topic of conflict between Māori and the settler government, sweeping from pre-Tiriti times in 1800 to the present day. Of course its focus is ostensibly on the “defining conflict in New Zealand history”, the relatively brief engagement from 1863 to 1864 between the invading British imperial troops and Waikato Māori. It also covers the 200 years surrounding the “war” to explain the origins of the conflict from the first encounters of Māori with tau iwi to the Tainui Raupatu Claims Settlement Act in 1995, which then set the scene for the Ngāi Tahu Settlement of a similar monetary amount. Vincent O’Malley’s style is very readable, and he achieves his aim of encompassing the lead-up to what was essentially racial conflict in Aotearoa, the consequences of which are still being felt today by all New Zealanders, despite the redress of individual “settlements”. His is the first major book to deal with the Waikato wars since James Cowan’s more narrative history was published in the 1920s.

Tainui’s relationship with the British Crown lagged behind that of Ngā Puhi in the North. On a more formal basis, Waikato Tainui ariki Te Wherowhero – later to be the first Māori king – added his signature belatedly to the 1835 Declaration of Independence, seen by Busby as a precursor to formal annexation of New Zealand. I have heard Moana Jackson give great emphasis to this, saying that this document did not prevent the British declaring sovereignty over Aotearoa in typical racist colonial fashion, despite Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Tainui had rapidly become a major agricultural producer and transporter to the settlers in Auckland, with European visitors being surprised by the “English” appearance of the neat wheat fields stretching as far as the eye could see. However, the Taranaki land wars and the potential for future land confiscations gave Tainui cause for concern over the Government’s intentions, since they also laid claim to Taranaki lands from their conquests during the earlier “musket wars”. That they were also well-armed provided a reason for Governor Grey to prepare for war with Waikato, by constructing forts and roads to facilitate this in 1861.

The invasion, when it came on 12 July 1863, announced by a belated proclamation, was where “a professional standing army was pitched against a civilian population with all too predictable results.” About 10,000 British soldiers were deployed against a Māori force that never exceeded 2000. By the end of the war, the British had dubiously confiscated the lands they had “conquered” – virtually all the lands of the Waikato – although the ability of the Kīngitanga forces to strike back remained a continued source of fear for new European settlers. While the Crown maintained that the “rebels” had “forfeited all rights to their lands”, there was still a need for a political settlement. Negotiations began in earnest in 1869 and were still going on in the 1880s. The Government wanted the “opening up” of the King Country, but would not oblige with a precondition over the return of confiscated land. It was not until the 1995 Raupatu Settlement and Apology the long Tainui search for redress was satisfied, although their request that the Queen personally deliver the apology was deflected to her merely signing the Bill during her visit to attend a CHOGM meeting in Auckland in 1995. As O’Malley says: “It was the great war for New Zealand, with consequences that continue to be felt – if not always remembered – in multiple ways today.” Our challenge is to remember and commemorate it as a major – but not defining – event in the history of Aotearoa.

Gerry Te Kapa Coates (Ngāi Tahu, Waihao) was born in Ōāmaru, and is an author of poetry – a collection of poems and short stories called The View From Up There (2011) – and widely varied non-fiction. He is a consultant working on hearings as a commissioner and Māori advisory work.

The Māori Meeting House: Introducing the Whare Whakairo

Nā Damian Skinner
Huia Publishers
RRP: $49.99
Review nā Huia Reriti

Damian Skinner is an art historian, a writer, and the curator of Applied Art and Design at the Auckland War Museum. The inside cover notes that Skinner, who is Pākehā, is interested in the cultural contact between Māori and Pākehā – a theme that runs throughout the book, underlying its content.

It was quite revealing … I had no idea how important the coming of the Pākehā was to the development of the meeting house. So it stands to reason that a Pākehā has as much to say about our taonga as we as Māori do. Interesting, especially within the context of the latter part of the century.

As the title states, this book is an introduction to the Māori meeting house, celebrating every aspect of these magnificent taonga – their history and art forms, symbolism, and cultural significance. It breathes respect and admiration for the artists and communities who produced these masterworks.

The book is richly illustrated with more than 100 historical and contemporary photographs (they could have edited out the watercolours – they’re pretty average in my opinion). Damian writes with personal narrative along with his obvious scholarship on whare whakairo, and delivers a clear, informative, and thought-provoking read. He writes using his personal reflections as a Pākehā art historian and curator trying a new way of seeing these taonga.

As with his first sentence on the first page, he writes: “I talk to Māori carvings”. Crazy, you may think? Finding insight? After I had finished reading my thoughts were that I might do the same!

I agree with Dame Anne Salmond’s note on the back cover – it is an eloquently written, deeply felt, and deeply researched book.

The late Dr Ranginui Walker also rightly described this book as “a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the modern meeting house as a statement of Māori identity, culture, and mana” – difficult to argue with that. I would definitely look to read more from Damian Skinner and give this one a 9 out of 10.

Huia Reriti (Ngāi Tahu) is a partner in Modern Architect Partners in Christchurch.

Tuna rāua ko Hiriwa

Nā Ripeka Takotowai Goddard
te kōrero i tuhi
Nā Kimberley Andrews kā pikitia
Nā Huia Publishers i tā
RRP $20.00

He pukapuka pikitia tēnei mō te whiwhika o Tuna i tōna puku hiriwa.

Tērā tētahi tūrehu ko Hiriwa tōna ikoa. Pō atu, pō atu ka tūapa, ka kanikani ia i te atarau o te marama me he whetū e kohiko ana i te raki. Ka mīharo, ka hiahia a Tuna ki tō Hiriwa āhua pūrātoke; nāwai rā ka kaika a Hiriwa e taua tuna tūmatarau kia tīramarama mai tōna puku. Kāti, ko Marama te tipuna o Hiriwa nō reira he utu kai te haere.

He whakamārama tēnei pakiwaitara mō te puku hiriwa o Tuna, he tohutohu hoki mō te wā tika hai hopu tuna.

Nāia te pukapuka pikitia tuatahi i tuhia e Ripeka Takotowai, ko te tūmanako ia kauraka ko te pukapuka whakamutuka.

Nā Kimberley Andrews kā pikitia koea o te ao tipua, ā, ka pai mā te tamariki te kimi i kā mea maha ko āta peitatia pērā ki kā manu o te wao.

Mā kā tamariki mokopuna mai i te pēpi tae atu ki te ono tau pea tēnei pukapuka rekareka.

Ka tūtohutia.

Tuna and Hiriwa

Nā Ripeka Takotowai Goddard
Illustrated by Kimberley Andrews
Huia Publishers
RRP: $20.00
Review nā Fern Whitau

This delightful picture book tells the story of how eels (tuna) came to have their silver bellies.

Once there was a beautiful water nymph named Hiriwa (a reo Māori word for “silver”). Every night she would flit along the river and dance under the light of the moon. Hiriwa was watched by Tuna, who longed to glow as she did and thought that if he played with Hiriwa in the moonlight, he would eventually glow like her. When that didn’t happen, Tuna ate Hiriwa in his anger and disappointment. His wish came true, but there was a price to pay – Marama, the moon, was the grandmother of Hiriwa and commanded him never to swim in her light again.

This engaging story gives an explanation of how Tuna acquired his silver belly, and why the best time to go eeling is on moonless nights.

This is the first children’s book to come from the imaginative pen of Ripeka Takotowai – let us hope it isn’t the last. The exquisite illustrations by Kimberley Andrews will draw your tamariki and mokopuna into an ethereal fairyland where they will enjoy spotting surprise details such as manu and shells.

This captivating story is aimed at zero-to-five-year-olds, but it is bound to enthral older tamariki. Highly recommended.

Fern Whitau (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) is a te reo Māori advisor at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Artefacts of Encounter: Cook’s voyages, colonial collecting and museum histories

Edited nā Nicholas Thomas, Julie Adams, Billie Lythberg, Maia Nuku, and Amiria Salmond
Otago University Press
RRP: $70.00
Review nā Maatakiwi Wakefield

This amazing book is a collaborative work providing new interpretations of artefacts collected by Captain Cook during his three Oceania voyages. Departing from the standard catalogue formatting, the book lends itself to a more descriptive narration. Reflecting on extensive research, the reader is provided with new insights into the artefacts and their true meaning and uses.

Well-written passages interwoven with beautiful photography provide the reader with a time and place of technologies and belief systems, but also, and more importantly, “of indigenous cultures at formative stages of their modern histories”. It is an insightful read, revealing little-known facts about the collectors and these historic items.

There are some very beautiful, intricate, and delicate pieces within the collection, many of which I believe would be difficult, if not impossible to replicate, even in this day and age. With such knowledge sadly having been lost, we can only be grateful not only for the collection, but for those who curate and continue to research such collections. Without such people, many of these taoka would be lost to the world forever.

Artefacts of Encounter is a worthwhile read. It is not an overnight read, but rather a book that you will return to over and over, finding something new to marvel at each time.

Toiapiapi – He huinga o ngā kura puoro a te Māori A collection of Māori musical treasures

Nā Hirini Melbourne –book and CD
Introduction nā Richard Nunns
Shearwaters/Whitireia Publishing
RRP: $34.95
Review nā Maatakiwi Wakefield

* only available to purchase on line:

Composer, singer, writer, and teacher Hirini Melbourne (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) passed away in 2003. Released by the Melbourne whānau to mark the 25th anniversary of the original sound recording’s release in 1991, Toiapiapi has lost none of its original magic. Considered a pioneer of its time, it was not only the first Māori traditional music compilation, but also the first collection of Māori poetry and waiata put to a backdrop of traditional Māori musical instruments.

Toiapiapi continues to provide the missing whenua often referred to by ethnomusicologist Richard Nunns, of the whāriki of traditional Māori knowledge. It was and remains the inspiration for the rejuvenation of taonga puoro. If not for Toiapiapi and the work of Hirini Melbourne and Haumanu (“breath of birds”, the revival movement for these instruments), these taonga may have been lost forever.

Liberally enhanced with information and illustrations of taonga puoro, Toiapiapi is a bilingual book suitable for readers of all ages. The accompanying CD (and soon-to-be-released downloadable MP3) makes the reading experience even more enjoyable. A “must have” for any Māori music lover, appreciator of history, or those who enjoy the harmonic sounds of nature.

Ka pupuhi te hau a mihi ki a koutou te whānau Melbourne mā tēnei taoka nā koutou i tākoha ano ki te Ao kia rere te hau, kia hau te ora kia rangonahia anō tā rātou reo…

Maatakiwi Wakefield (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toa) Is Kaitakawaenga Māori for the Christchurch City Council Library Services, and a contractor with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Opinions expressed in REVIEWS are those of the writers and are not necessarily endorsed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.