Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Waitangi Rua Rautau Lectures 2016

I was recently one of a number of speakers at the Waitangi Rua Rautau Lectures for 2016, held at Victoria University of Wellington's Te Herenga Waka Marae. After the first address from Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick discussing the council's recent partnership agreement with Te Arawa, the second part of proceedings focused in particular on the role of historians in the Waitangi Tribunal process.

My own talk was a tribute to the late Professor Alan Ward, who passed away in December 2014. As I noted, I first met Alan in 1993, when I came to Wellington from Christchurch on a three-month contract to research claims for the Crown-Congress Joint Working Party, where Alan was the chief historian. Within six months of that, the CCJWP was defunct, but more than two decades later I'm still here doing more or less the same thing. And although there were times after that when we had less to do with one another, Alan and I worked closely together again on his final major publication, jointly revising and reworking Judith Binney's draft chapters for Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History.

The main part of my talk examined Alan's A Show of Justice: Racial 'Amalgamation' in Nineteenth Century New Zealand, a monumental work of scholarship and (as I noted in my talk) still more than four decades later a kind of Bible for Treaty researchers. Although I was already very familiar with it, I had an opportunity to consider the book in more depth when I was asked to contribute a chapter to Texts and Contexts: Reflections in Pacific Islands Historiography, edited by Doug Munro and Brij V. Lal and published by the University of Hawai'i Press in 2006.  The two seminal texts in New Zealand history I was invited to consider were A Show of Justice and Keith Sinclair's Origins of the Maori Wars, first published in 1957.

The lectures were recorded by Radio New Zealand. You can listen to what I had to say here (my contribution starts around 40 minutes in). Judge Caren Fox, Shonagh Kenderdine, Professor Michael Belgrave and Sir Edward Durie are also featured in the recording.