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Disputed Histories: Imagining New Zealand's Past

Disputed Histories: Imagining New Zealand's Past

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Disputed Histories: Imagining New Zealand's Past

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499 pages
7 hours
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Издано:
Nov 1, 2016
ISBN:
9780947522254
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Книге

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In this volume, leading historians reflect on writing about New Zealand's past. They also test how that past is investigated and framed. Their essays tell us much about New Zealand's many pasts and how historians have imagined them, and indicate particular concerns with what the country is now and the current role of history as a discipine within our nation. They ask questions and venture some answers. The introductory essay by the editors surveys the work of historians since the 1980s, while the final essay is based on an interview with Erik Olssen, whose work has been at the forefront of historical research and methodology in the period. In between, a variety of topics are visited and methodologies applied. Running through the volume are two threads: discussions of the limits of national history and the search for new archives and sites of historical enquiry.
Издатель:
Издано:
Nov 1, 2016
ISBN:
9780947522254
Формат:
Книге

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Tony Ballantyne has contributed regularly to SF magazines, and lives in the Manchester area.


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Disputed Histories - Tony Ballantyne

Published by Otago University Press

PO Box 56/Level 1, 398 Cumberland Street, Dunedin, New Zealand

Fax: 64 3 479 8385. Email: university.press@otago.ac.nz

First published 2006

Volume copyright © Tony Ballantyne and Brian Moloughney 2006

Introduction copyright © Tony Ballantyne and Brian Moloughney 2006

Individual chapters copyright © individual authors as listed on the contents page 2006

ISBN 1-877372-16-1 (print)

ISBN 978-0-947522-25-4 (EPUB)

ISBN 978-0-947522-24-7 (Kindle)

Published with the assistance of the

History Group, Ministry for Culture & Heritage

Front cover: Looking for Mercer, 1990. Oil on board, 550 x 480mm.

Painting by Michael Shepherd. Courtesy of Jane Sanders, Art Agent.

Ebook conversion 2016 by meBooks

Contents

Front Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Introduction Angles of Vision

Tony Ballantyne & Brian Moloughney

Chapter 1 Retrievable Time: prehistoric colonisation of South Polynesia from the outside in and the inside out

Atholl Anderson

Chapter 2 Leadership in Ancient Polynesia

Michael P. J. Reilly

Chapter 3 Asia in Murihiku: towards a transnational history of colonial culture

Tony Ballantyne & Brian Moloughney

Chapter 4 ‘In-Between’ Lives: studies from within a colonial society

Judith Binney

Chapter 5 Marriage and the Family on the Colonial Frontier

David Thomson

Chapter 6 Is there a Good Case for New Zealand Exceptionalism?

Miles Fairburn

Chapter 7 Chance Residues: photographs and social history

Bronwyn Dalley

Chapter 8 A Germaine Moment: style, language and audience

Barbara L. Brookes

Chapter 9 The Shaping of a Field

Erik Olssen

About the Contributors

Notes

Index

Acknowledgements

In compiling this volume, we have accrued various debts that we would like to acknowledge. The Department of History, Art History and Theory at the University of Otago provided a grant that helped offset some of the production costs. We are thankful for the assistance of Paula Waby, who transcribed the tapes of our interview with Erik Olssen, and Kyle Matthews, who compiled and formatted early versions of the manuscript. We are grateful to Wendy Harrex of the Otago University Press who was an enthusiastic supporter of the project from its inception. We thank Wendy and her staff at the Press for doing such a great job in producing this book. All the contributors responded with good grace to the various demands we made, for which we are grateful. It has been a pleasure to work with them. Finally, we would like to acknowledge our debt to Erik Olssen, who is an inspiring teacher and was a wonderful colleague.

TONY BALLANTYNE & BRIAN MOLOUGHNEY

Dunedin, February 2006

Introduction

Angles of Vision

Tony Ballantyne & Brian Moloughney

This volume explores new ways of understanding New Zealand history and provides a range of new vantage points on the development of the communities that have made these islands their home. The essays included in the volume not only take stock of New Zealand historiography as it stands today, but also test innovative ways of writing about the past. The authors are searching for new analytical stances, novel ways of framing the temporal and spatial boundaries of our histories, seeking out new- or little-used sources, finding fresh ways of reading old analytical concerns, and critically reflecting upon some of the basic assumptions that govern understandings of New Zealand history. In seeking out and adopting these distinctive ‘angles of vision’, the historians contributing to this volume are consciously adopting very specific positions in relation to the broader cultural and political landscapes of life in contemporary New Zealand. Their essays not only tell us much about New Zealand’s many pasts and how historians have imagined those pasts, but also reflect particular concerns with what New Zealand is now and the role of history as a discipline within our nation at the start of the twenty-first century.

Recent historical writing in New Zealand has been moulded by both international disciplinary currents and the local cultural context within which New Zealand historians have practised their craft. In the mid-1980s, a rather narrow spectrum of concerns and an even more constrained range of approaches marked New Zealand historical writing. By this time, social history, which turned away from the domain of high politics and policy-making to focus on the ways in which race, class, and gender shaped social formations, had emerged as the dominant form of academic history writing. Social history had quickly gained ground from long-established forms of political history and overshadowed economic history, which was more marginal in New Zealand during the 1970s than it had been in the United Kingdom or North America. A wide range of scholars was drawn to social history’s promise of writing ‘history from below’. Feminist activists and historians saw social history as providing a methodology that would allow them both to restore women to the historical record and to focus attention upon the fundamental structures that had determined and constrained the life experiences of women in New Zealand.¹ Social history has great appeal in the New Zealand context because its distinctive perspective illuminated social reform and state attempts to ameliorate social inequalities, which were seen as the defining feature of the nation’s political culture. The work of Miles Fairburn took social history in another direction. He used it as a tool to offer a critical reading of the ‘Arcadian’ vision produced by colonial promotional literature and debunk the cherished national myth of New Zealand as an ‘ideal society’.² Emphasising the weakness of social bonds, widespread mobility, and high incidences of crime and drunkenness, Fairburn suggested that colonial New Zealand was an ‘atomised society’, and in doing so triggered a new body of research that tested his hypothesis and initiated one of New Zealand’s few genuine historiographical debates.³

The other key constellation of research that shaped New Zealand historiography in the mid-1980s was work on ‘race relations’. The question of race and the nature of the relationship between New Zealand’s indigenous populations and colonial settlers had, of course, been a key theme for historians of New Zealand ever since A.S. Thomson produced The Story of New Zealand in 1859.⁴ In the 1980s, however, new critical histories of race emerged. These were not driven by any new international historiographical currents, but were a response to two important political developments. First, the campaign against the Springbok Tour of 1981 brought into stark relief many of the racial divisions latent within New Zealand society and gave additional impetus to the critical reflections on race that had become an increasingly important aspect of New Zealand cultural and intellectual life since the late 1960s. Second, the very public efforts of Māori in the 1970s and 1980s to protect their mana, language and land rights opened up new debates over race relations and enabled the production of increasingly critical readings of the colonial past. Works such as Angela Ballara’s Proud to be White, Tony Simpson’s Te Riri Pākehā and, most importantly, James Belich’s work on the New Zealand wars undercut the more optimistic reading of New Zealand race relations popularised by W.H. Oliver and Keith Sinclair.⁵ Where the liberal histories of Oliver and Sinclair were ultimately optimistic about the pattern of race relations, with Sinclair suggesting that New Zealand enjoyed better race relations than other settler colonies, this new body of work emphasised Pākehā racism, the centrality of violence to the process of colonisation, and the Crown’s contraventions of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The new cultural weight attached to the Treaty and the political and intellectual influence of the Tribunal transformed the kinds of history being produced in New Zealand. Over the past two decades, the Tribunal’s processes have enabled the production of large bodies of historical scholarship relating to the claims it has considered. While this research has had limited impact on ‘mainstream’ academic historiography, it stands as a substantial cultural resource that narrates the history of particular taonga and resources, locales, hapū and iwi. Even if these histories are not routinely footnoted or used by most academic historians, they are the subject of growing debate and there is now a significant body of work on the relationships between history as a discipline and the legal processes surrounding the assessment and settlement of Treaty claims.

Outside the claims process, the close collaborative relationship between historians and iwi, and the emphasis given to ‘partnership’ under biculturalism, shaped the work of some academic writing about nineteenth-century New Zealand history. The complexity and texture of Judith Binney’s work on the history of the North Island’s east coast was enabled by the close relationships she established with important families in the region and her deft juxtaposition of Māori narratives with the government records, settlers’ private papers, and Pākehā print culture. Her biography of Te Kooti Arikirangi, Redemption Songs, stands as one of our most compelling and nuanced explorations of the colonial encounter and one of New Zealand’s outstanding works of biography.⁷ In addition to Binney, however, it was anthropologist Jeff Sissons who produced the most innovative work on nineteenth-century history. His collaborative work with the Ngāpuhi experts Wiremu Wi Hongi and Pat Hohepa, The Pūriri Trees Are Laughing, juxtaposed European narratives (produced by Samuel Marsden and J.L. Nicholas) with whakapapa and Māori oral traditions relating to the political history of the Bay of Islands. This work revealed the true potential of a collaborative research enterprise and the rich histories when Māori and Pākehā sources were brought into dialogue. Similarly, Sissons’ Te Waimana arose out of a close collaborative relationship with Māori, in this case members of Tuhoe. Te Waimana documented the history of one Tuhoe community, drawing upon colonial accounts, Land Court records, the anthropological research of Elsdon Best, and the traditional knowledge of Tuhoe elders. Sissons wove these sources together with an account of his own sojourn in the Urewera.⁸

While the work of Binney and Sissons suggested the analytical richness that could be produced out of a close engagement with Māori communities and sources, biculturalism has had the greatest cultural impact when it was harnessed to the story of the nation state and the production of a distinctive vision of national identity grounded on the ‘partnership’ between Māori and Pākehā. Anne Salmond’s work on early contact rematerialised an archive relating to exploration, in order to document the meeting of ‘Two Worlds’ – one Polynesian and one European – in New Zealand.⁹ In emphasising the correspondences and cultural equivalences between Europe and Polynesia, as well as highlighting the emerging interdependence between the peoples that became Māori and Pākehā, Salmond’s arc of publication can be read as a pre-history of the bicultural nation. James Belich’s two-volume national history also produced a narrative organised around the construction of a bicultural society.¹⁰ Argumentative and innovative, Belich’s history put considerable pressure on some of the conventions of national history, as he not only placed much greater emphasis on New Zealand’s economic relations with Britain than any previous national history, but also returned the Māori-Pākehā engagement to the broader world of the British empire. More recently still, Michael King’s Penguin History produced an upbeat and enormously popular (to middle-class Pākehā at least) rendering of this bicultural vision of the nation’s past, which as Caroline Daley has noted is firmly in the cultural nationalist camp.¹¹ All of these works produce compelling stories of productive cross-cultural engagements, place our contemporary identities (as ‘Māori’, ‘Pākehā’, or ‘New Zealanders’) at the forefront of the story, and emphasise the uniqueness of the national past. In King’s case, this vision of a national past made out of the meeting between Māori and Pākehā is given additional popular appeal because of its strikingly optimistic reading of the national character and its faith in the redemptive power of a biculturally inflected liberalism.

This new work on race relations, as well as the rise of social history, was central in initiating a marked shift in the kinds of history that historians of New Zealand were writing and that New Zealanders were reading. In the last decade, we have seen further methodological diversification. Cultural history certainly has developed more slowly in New Zealand than in Australia or North America, largely because of the strength of social history here. The publication of Bronwyn Dalley and Bronwyn Labrum’s collection Fragments in 2001 signalled a growing engagement with the issues that lay at the heart of cultural history elsewhere, although the boundaries between social and cultural history remain rather blurred in New Zealand historiography.¹² Caroline Daley’s recent work on the culture of the body is the most robust work that deploys cultural history’s distinctive analytical concerns with meaning-making and performativity.¹³ While the kind of cultural history that has flourished in other national historiographies remains somewhat underdeveloped here, there has been more research undertaken that spans the boundary of history and literature: recent work by Lydia Wevers on travel writing, Mark Williams and Jane Stafford on the ‘Maoriland’ writers, Stuart Murray on literature and cultural nationalism, and Lawrence Jones on interwar writers has shed considerable light on the textual production of ‘New Zealand’ and on the emergence of local literary cultures.¹⁴ Another prominent trend in this diversification is the growth of environmental history, which has emerged as a particularly significant field of research because it is able to speak to the strong interest in ‘native’ flora and fauna that is a key element in national identity as well as provide new insights into the profound environmental consequences of colonisation and landscape modification.¹⁵ This connection with cultural nationalism partly explains why environmental history has been more popular than economic history ever was. In addition, over the last decade we have witnessed a flowering of indigenous histories grounded in the particular perspectives of hapū and iwi. These works are not primarily driven by a desire to ‘fill in the gaps’ of Māori history or to document an iwi’s relationship with the state (in the manner of work produced for the Tribunal), but rather are grounded in the primacy of whakapapa, attach great significance to oral narratives and trace the development of descent groups through the deeds of important ancestors, marriage, conflict and war. Their methodological presuppositions, causative explanations and intended audience (members of the descent group itself) gives these works a very different look and feel from the mainstream of social history or the kinds of history that remain the staple of much undergraduate teaching.¹⁶

In many ways, this volume can be seen as part of this growing methodological diversification. The essays collected here are interested in probing the limits and conventions of New Zealand’s history. Some of the essays explore or cut across disciplinary boundaries, many find meaning in ‘little’ stories relating to family life, domestic routines, and material culture, others seek out new sources and new ways of making sense of the past, and some even call the conventions of New Zealand history into question. Whether intentionally or not, all the essays reflect the argumentative approach that Lydia Wevers and Mark Williams advocated recently in their provocative essay on cultural policy. Critical of the unquestioned dominance of ‘national’ identity and the conflation of biculturalism and nationalism, they alert us to the need to question ‘harmonious images of national life’ that deny ‘the real and stubbornly unassimilable force of difference.’ Rather than treading such ‘a comfortable path to common goals’, these essays seek to disrupt conventional readings of New Zealand history in order to open up issues for exploration and debate.¹⁷

In addition to offering some innovative perspectives on New Zealand’s many pasts, this collection of essays was occasioned by the retirement of Professor Erik Olssen from the University of Otago and it marks Erik’s contribution to the discipline of history in New Zealand. After returning to Dunedin, where he had earlier completed an M.A. on John A. Lee, Erik established himself as a key figure in New Zealand historical writing. His work has profoundly shaped our understandings of the development of New Zealand’s political traditions, intellectual culture and social formations. His research was central in exploring the usefulness of class as a category of analysis in New Zealand, initiated the development of a strong tradition of social history from the late 1970s, and has deftly brought the quantitative and qualitative into dialogue in his explorations of the opportunity structure and culture of work on Dunedin’s ‘Flat’. While this is not a traditional festschrift, where a large number of authors produce essays in recognition of the contribution of a leading academic, Erik’s work and influence is a strong and visible thread that ties the volume together. Many of the essays reflect on the methodological innovation of Erik’s work and all of the essays share Erik’s concern with methods of analysis and the shape of the historiographical terrain.

The volume begins with Atholl Anderson’s exploration of the ‘deep history’ of the Pacific and the peopling of New Zealand. Anderson’s starting-point is the emergence of what he terms ‘imaginative prehistories’ in the 1990s, most notably Barry Brailsford’s Song of Waitaha (1994), which revived a long tradition of suggesting that the pre-European settlement of New Zealand was the product of a long two-phase process. Anderson notes that while most academic archaeologists are sceptical of any suggestion that there was a significant wave of settlement before the arrival of the ancestors of Māori around 800 years ago, there is a growing consensus that the Pacific rat, rattus exulans, arrived in New Zealand around two millennia ago. This divergence opens up space for the reconsideration of the earliest settlement of New Zealand and this is what Anderson undertakes in this essay. He approaches this issue from a new angle, examining evidence from New Zealand’s ‘outlying archipelagos’: the Chathams, the Kermadecs, Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands and the Subantarctic islands. While these islands sit up to 800 kilometres off the coast of New Zealand’s mainlands, they are part of a larger unified archaeological complex: ‘South Polynesia’. Anderson sees these islands as a series of sample sites that encircle the three main islands that make up New Zealand. These outliers thus function as locations where the movement of Polynesians to and from New Zealand can be traced and from which a regional history of Polynesian settlement can be elaborated. Anderson notes that archaeology is only able to reconstruct certain aspects of the process of settlement and that the social world of these early settlers generally eludes the vision of archaeology. Nevertheless, there is enough evidence from these outliers to cast considerable light upon the origins, chronology and longevity of colonisation in South Polynesia.

Anderson surveys the archaeological evidence for each of these outliers, noting that Polynesians discovered them during the thirteenth century and that there is strong evidence that suggests that these Polynesians had come from New Zealand. While it seems that none of these early settlements lasted beyond the fifteenth century (with the notable exception of the Chatham islands), he suggests that South Polynesia was effectively a ‘greater New Zealand’ for around a century. Thus, Anderson suggests, the colonisation of South Polynesia was effectively from the inside out or from New Zealand to the outliers. The culture carried to the islands of South Polynesia by these settlers, he argues, was distinctively eastern Polynesian in origin and was dispersed through downwind navigation. In rejecting the high levels of maritime technology and navigational sophistication argued for in what he terms the ‘neotraditionalist’ approach to the history of Polynesian navigation, Anderson suggests that navigation for Polynesians was difficult and constrained by both technology and prevailing weather patterns. The ancestors of Māori settled in eastern Polynesia only around 1000 years ago and he finds no credible evidence for the settlement of New Zealand before the thirteenth century. Given this chronology, Anderson rejects the theory that the Pacific rat (and an accompanying human population) was present in New Zealand around 150 AD, suggesting that the evidence for this position is dubious and that there is now a substantial body of other archaeological evidence that suggests that settlement began around 1200 AD. Anderson’s essay not only provides a neat summation of the current state of archaeological research, but also reminds us of the broader Pacific context that has always conditioned the development of New Zealand communities and that the Chathams, the Subantarctic islands, and the other outliers are important elements of New Zealand’s past.

Michael Reilly’s essay shifts our attention to the social structures and traditional expectations that govern Māori and Polynesian leadership. Reilly begins by reflecting on the power of the term ‘rangatiratanga’ within New Zealand history. He notes that this term was of fundamental importance in the drafting of the Treaty of Waitangi and that it has remained a crucial, if contested, term within Māori political discourse since 1840. Drawing inspiration from the Waitangi Tribunal’s efforts to give effect to indigenous understandings of key concepts like rangatiratanga, Reilly produces what we might think of as the pre-history of this Māori term. Reilly explores the development of leadership amongst the whanaunga – relatives or the wider family – of Māori in eastern Polynesia, in particular the Cook Islands, Tahiti, and the Hawaiian islands. Reilly discusses the recent shift in scholarly understandings of the nature of rangatira, stressing that notable indigenous thinkers in New Zealand (like John Rangihau of Tuhoe), a new generation of historians such as Angela Ballara, and the Waitangi Tribunal itself have produced a vision of leadership that is at odds with the old image of the rangatira as an all-powerful hereditary ruler sitting at the apex of a hierarchical social order. In contrast to this colonial vision, the authority of rangatira came not simply from birthright but rather was bestowed upon an individual by the community, and the individual rangatira was understood as giving voice to the desires of that larger collective. Reilly carefully leads us through both nineteenth-century Pacific sources and recent Pacific scholarship, showing us the strong continuities between the role of rangatira in New Zealand and traditional leaders elsewhere in eastern Polynesia. He also uses incidences from Mangaia in the Cook Islands and Hawai’i to demonstrate the ways in which rangatiratanga operated in eastern Polynesian society, and offers a rich discussion of the great Tainui leader Te Wherowhero. By tacking backwards and forwards between various sites within the Pacific, Reilly develops Erik Olssen’s suggestion that New Zealand’s past ‘cannot be explained only in terms of what happened here’ but rather that we must grapple with the multiple contexts of New Zealand’s ‘many pasts’.¹⁸ By teasing out the manifold connections between the history of Māori leadership and the political world of eastern Polynesia, Reilly effectively relocates Māori within a broader ‘Oceanic’ history which is frequently lost when we use national frameworks to understand the broad dynamics of Pacific history.¹⁹

With the third essay in the collection, New Zealand history is produced from another angle, as our analytical focus shifts from New Zealand’s place in the Pacific to the Asian and imperial contexts that moulded the development of particular regional cultures within these islands. In this essay, we assess the place of Asia in shaping the landscape, economy, and culture of Murihiku – the south of the South Island – during the nineteenth century. The essay begins by challenging the dominance of national history, outlining the rationale for an approach which prioritises the regional over the national and which frames the development of this regional history within a very particular set of networks, institutions and discourses that linked Murihiku to various parts of Asia. Throughout the essay, we stress that these connections to Asia, but especially India and China, were largely generated by and mediated through British imperial structures. We stress the importance of this imperial engagement with Asia in shaping the nature of early cross-cultural contact in Murihiku, arguing that the sealers, whalers and merchants who plied the coasts of Murihiku in the early nineteenth century incorporated Kāi Tahu Whānui into the operation of a global Sinocentric economic system. These networks were important forces that helped drive the depletion of some of Murihiku’s key resources and shaped the transformation of the region’s landscape. We discuss a wide range of networks that reached out to different parts of Asia following the founding of the Otago colony in 1848, highlighting the particular importance of Asian commodities (such as tea), plants, and religion in influencing the distinctive culture that settlers developed during the colonisation of Murihiku. In assessing the place of Asia in the cultural landscape of colonial Otago, we highlight the shifting influence of different regions within Asia in moulding British imperial culture and document the transformation of settlers’ interest in Asia between 1848 and World War One. In keeping with Peter Gibbons call for a sensitivity to the global economic forces that have been instrumental in New Zealand history, we place considerable emphasis on the history of cross-cultural trade, commodities and consumption and recover some important cultural practices (such as gardening) where Pākehā and Asian settlers found common interests. In venturing beyond a straightforward history of racism and exclusion, this essay presents a very different reading of the making of colonial culture. We foreground the influence of an imperial culture that was already profoundly imprinted by the cultural and economic power of India and China, highlight the internalisation of the ‘exotic’ within colonial culture, and emphasise that racism co-existed with productive cross-cultural engagements between Pākehā and early Asian migrants.

Judith Binney’s essay offers another vantage point on the social history of colonial New Zealand. She examines the history of ‘awhekaihe’, people of mixed descent, in the nineteenth century, with a particular interest in the experiences of a group of mixed-race families from the eastern Bay of Plenty and Poverty Bay. The history of intermarriage was long neglected by New Zealand historians: as recently as 1999, Erik Olssen observed that ‘mixed marriages’ in New Zealand remained a largely unstudied issue.²⁰ Recent work by Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa and Angela Wanhalla has mapped some of the cultural effects of intermarriage and documented the efforts of the colonial state, both within New Zealand and in the Pacific, to manage intermarriage and its outcomes.²¹ Binney’s essay here probes these family histories to explore developing attitudes to ‘mixedness’ and the ways in which these families negotiated their ‘in-between’ status within a specific temporal and spatial context. Within this part of the North Island, Binney suggests, a distinctive ‘sub-culture’ of mixed-race families had emerged. These families, such as the Fulloons and the Tapsells, were interconnected by marriage and shared many economic and political interests. Binney notes the access to power that these men enjoyed through the connections they were able to fashion in Auckland, but also highlights the growing anxieties that focused on mixed-race families during the wars of the 1860s, as many settlers wanted to expel anyone with Māori blood from their communities while many Māori communities were keen to re-absorb mixed-descent families, especially women and children. She argues this reflected the importance of women both in maintaining the kinship structures central to Māori society and in their ability to own land, which took on added importance in the wake of the establishment of the Native Land Court in 1865.

Binney locates access to land ownership right at the heart of her story, showing the ways in which Māori women could either shore up the material base of their mixed-race families or act as agents who opened up Māori land to individualised tenure and disposal on the open market. Her essay focuses our attention on the nexus between family-formation and the working of the colonial economy within the wars of the 1860s and traces the long-term effects of intermarriage on the east coast of the North Island in the later nineteenth century. Within a colonial context where Pākehā were keen to cement their dominance and Māori communities strove to protect their mana, ‘awhekaihe’ were liminal figures that could function as crucial brokers between worlds, but also were seen as potentially destabilising figures whose allegiances, reliability and identity were open to question. In exploring these intimate relationships and their broad socio-economic importance, Binney underscores both the deep anxieties associated with the intersections between race, gender and sexuality in nineteenth-century New Zealand and the role of sexual relationships as crucial ‘transfer points’ in colonial power relations.

David Thomson offers a very different reading of family formation in colonial New Zealand. Where Binney sees the intimate as a key sphere for cross-cultural engagement and at the heart of the struggles of the colonial encounter, Thomson suggests that the settler family on the New Zealand frontier remained essentially British. His argument begins by rejecting the common assumption that the demographic patterns of the North American frontier – a predominantly male population where women married early and had large families – were replicated in New Zealand and played a central role in shaping colonial culture. He interrogates the large families of both the popular imagination and historical writing, producing a critical re-evaluation of the demographic evidence for nineteenth-century New Zealand. The essay begins by assessing marriage patterns discussed in the work of Keith Pickens, Charlotte Macdonald and Maureen Molloy, but suggests that this historiography has over-read the evidence for the existence of a ‘frontier’ marriage pattern in New Zealand. Rates of marriage, the average age of marriage for men and women, and the age difference between spouses produced by this New Zealand research, Thomson argues, are in fact much closer to British patterns than to the patterns characteristic of the ‘classic’ eighteenth-century American frontier or the ‘weaker’ version of this demographic pattern found in the nineteenth-century American West. Similarly, although there was a disproportionate number of men in nineteenth-century New Zealand, the ratio between genders here was in fact much closer to the ‘source’ British culture than the radical imbalances found in the American west or the Australian colonies. He notes that recent research has revealed a considerable range of ‘marriage cultures’ within Britain and that the patterns discernible in New Zealand fit easily within the middle of this British range and were probably produced out of a mix of these cultures. This also applies to crude birth rates that fit within the regional distribution recorded in nineteenth-century Britain. He then provides a detailed discussion of the data relating to family size, examining the quality of the evidence collected in the early twentieth century and placing the evidence from New Zealand in an international context. Again, New Zealand is roughly comparable with Australia but also England and Wales, while it is the United States that stands out as an exceptional case, where there was an earlier transition to smaller families from the very large families common on the eighteenth-century American frontier. All of this suggests that there is limited evidence for a ‘frontier effect’ in the shaping of the demography of nineteenth-century New Zealand and that the existence of slightly larger families in the colony than in Britain reflected higher rates of child survival rather than a higher birth rate. By firmly locating the demographics of colonial New Zealand within the patterns of both Britain and other settler colonies, Thomson punctures the cherished stories of large colonial families that were a staple of colonial promotional literature and which have subsequently been an important element in defining the distinctiveness of New Zealand culture.

Miles Fairburn also addresses this crucial question of national uniqueness. His essay begins by noting that there has been no real academic discussion about whether New Zealand history is ‘exceptional’ in any way, which is striking given that the question of exceptionalism has been a key point of debate in many other nations’ historiographies. Fairburn begins by setting out his criteria for ‘exceptionalism’, before rejecting several aspects of New Zealand’s history that could potentially be seen as exceptional, including the notion that New Zealand was a ‘social laboratory’, the ‘man alone’ myth, the signing of the Treaty of the Waitangi, or in the pattern of Māori-Pākehā relations. Drawing on a 1945 work by Gordon Mirams and the novels of Ronald Hugh Morrieson, he argues that the culture that developed in twentieth-century New Zealand was a pastiche and it is only in the distinctiveness of this pastiche that we can claim New Zealand to be exceptional. Fairburn suggests that popular culture has been dominated by elements ‘imported’ from Britain, the United States and Australia and that these international forces have greatly overshadowed autochthonous developments. The extent and impact of these borrowings, he argues, meant that New Zealand was the ‘most globalised society in the world’ by the middle of the twentieth century.

Fairburn places particular emphasis on the impact of Australia and the United States of America on New Zealand between the 1920s and the 1960s. He surveys the number of books, newspapers and comics imported into New Zealand, the number and type of films, the destinations preferred by New Zealand travellers, the flows of recorded music into the country, and the composition of radio programming. He then proceeds to argue that it was New Zealand’s geographical isolation that largely determined the broad pattern of its cultural development. He suggests that this isoation not only meant that pre-contact Māori history was ‘remarkably short’, but that it also encouraged a culture characterised by an ‘exceptional capacity for adaptation’, a trait that Fairburn sees as governing both patterns of early cross-cultural contact and social change during the twentieth century. Geography, he contends, also dictated the timing of British colonisation and determined the nature of the culture transplanted to New Zealand by settlers from Europe. Pākehā culture, Fairburn notes, has an even shorter history than Māori and he asserts that this meant that it has had little chance of developing ‘autochthonous features’, particularly given that it developed within an age of efficient global communication (unlike, say, the colonies established in British and French North America or Spanish South America during the early modern period). New Zealand’s small population therefore became enthusiastic consumers of goods, cultural products, and fashions produced in Australia, Britain and America and was able to access these metropolitan innovations with alacrity. It is this pattern of international consumption and relatively weak forms of local cultural production that Fairburn sees as ultimately the defining characteristic of New Zealand’s cultural development. Isolated deep in the southwest Pacific, his Māori and Pākehā have developed cultures grounded in adoption, adaptation and the enthusiastic embrace of global cultural flows.

Fairburn’s argument is grounded in a range of archives largely neglected by New Zealand historians: radio archives, figures relating to the importation of books and films, and popular journalism. Bronwyn Dalley’s essay focuses on another important store of historical evidence: photographs. While some photos are carefully composed, revealing aesthetic or social values, Dalley argues that photographic images also contain many ‘chance residues’, incidental and often-marginal fragments that reveal much to historians. Here she focuses on the details and rhythms of everyday life captured in a range of images, recorded by both private and state-employed photographers, to explore aspects of social and cultural history that are often left unconsidered or unhistoricised. As Dalley shows, hairstyles, the routines of personal grooming, clothing and bodily poses can reveal much about the shaping of New Zealand society. Photographs are particularly valuable in accessing the history of material culture and the culture of work, capturing aspects of the past that were often not considered significant enough to be recorded in written sources. In addition to reading images of workplaces, such as the processing chains from freezing works and smoko rooms, Dalley considers portraits of politicians and railway staff, and a photo of the interior of a barber shop, to trace the place of grooming and personal style in the shifting projection of masculinity. She then moves on to consider the importance of the ways in which photographs are produced, addressing the issues of text and context that are always a serious concern for historians. She notes that information about the production of a photo can provide a series of cues for the historian seeking to read the image, but also suggests that historians can productively read photographs, like written texts, ‘against the grain’ to generate new readings that were unimagined by the original photographer. Dalley’s essay is both a demonstration of the value of the thoughtful use of visual sources by an historian and a call for New Zealand historians to make more effective use of visual material, encouraging a move beyond the use of photos or paintings as ‘visual quotation’ to see them as sources of great value that may

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