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Posts Tagged ‘Early NZ History’

Displaced by Cristina Sanders. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

May 14, 2021 Comments off

I really enjoyed this historical novel of New Zealand in the 1870’s when settlers were being encouraged to come to New Zealand and establish farms. The Land Wars with the Maori were essentially over in terms of an armed struggle and new Zealand was open to settlers from all over the World.

This novel concentrates on an English gentry family named Sansonnet headed by Robert and his family whose farm in England is sold from underneath them by Robert’s brother who encourages them to join him on a farm in New Zealand. Well all is not as it seems.

Robert and Penelope and their three sons and two daughters book passage to Napier in New Zealand and set sail but all does not go well. Robert is a bully of a father and it is way or the highway for his family. This cause some conflict. On the journey all three sons come to grief in different ways and only one makes to Napier.

On arrival there is no brother waiting, no farm and a very rough and ready colonial settlement. Robert takes off to Thames to meet his brother and the family are left to make it on their own headed by 18 year old Eloise who is a superb character, her 16 year old sister Martha and mother Penelope who has lost it after the fate that befell her sons.

With the help of a preachers daughter the family settle in, but Eloise has fallen for a Norwegian woodcutter named Lars and Martha has taken with Hemi, a half cast Maori boy. To find out any more you are going to have to read it yourself and believe me it is worth it.

The clash of values of Victorian manners of the Sansonnets and those of the settler communities is stunning. The women cope very well but the men are left flabbergasted and found to be hypocritical.

Well written, the descriptions of early New Zealand are superb and there is a nice bit of scandal at the end. One of the best novels about early New Zealand that I have read. Could be read by Intermediate school readers and above but aimed at senior audiences.

Winner of The Storylines Tessa Duder Award for 2021.

The NZ Series book4 First Encounters New Zealand 1642-1840 by Gordon and Sarah Ell. Pub. Oratia, 2021.

April 30, 2021 Comments off

If you haven’t caught up with this excellent series on New Zealand’s history then start with this one. From diaries and log books starting with Abel Tasman in 1642, it tells of early encounters with the Maori that are very enlightening and basically predict future problems.

Tasman’s entry concerns conflict with Maori in Golden bay which Tasman called Murderers Bay and then a remarkably similar encounter 125 years later in Tologa Bay between Captain Cook’s men and the Maori. In the latter incident Cook had a Hawaiian speaker with him who could understand and be understood by the Maori.

Further entries deal with Samuel Marsden and the first Xmas, the timber trade, Whalers and Sealers, the first Maori to visit England, the tattooed sailor who returned home after living amongst the Maori for some years and other very interesting stories.

It concludes with John Logan Campbell the father of Auckland, landing on the isthmis that was to become Auckland, standing on the hill that was Mt Remuera and gazing across the Waitemata Harbour in awe. It is a lyrical story telling of the purchase of land for development.

This is the best series on early NZ that I have read and would be a valuable asset to any school library. Others in this series are also reviewed on this blog.

Each entry is well illustrated with explanation of terms used and of historical and cultural facts and figures.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

The New Zealand Wars by Philippa Werry

January 29, 2018 Comments off

NZ WarsThe New Zealand Wars by Philippa Werry. Pub. New Holland, 2018.

When I was at school in the 1950’s and 60’s The New Zealand Wars were called the Maori Wars then the Land Wars and even today they are a sensitive issue in our social, racial and economic history. When you read this superbly organised, illustrated and accurate non fiction work it is easy to understand why. Philippa Werry who is a meticulous researcher and writer has in my opinion got it right but still has taken the safe option of putting a disclaimer in the front of the book to say that information was accurate at time of publication.

The book starts with an overview from the only South Island conflict between Maori and settlers at Wairau in 1843 through to the raid on Parihaka in 1881. Of course the conflict doesn’t end there with Whina Cooper’s hikoi in 1975, Bastion Point in 1978 and the announcement of a Commemorative Day in 2016.

The battles were often fought with some savagery with women and children involved on both sides. The death and injury toll of European soldiers and settlers is known but that of the Maori only estimated. The tactics of both sides are discussed, the trench warfare, even a gunboat raid halfway up the Waikato River. It is riveting reading.

The battles in the Far North with Hone Heke are legendary  especially Ruapekapeka. The Taranaki Wars and the Waikato Wars are superbly told and illustrated with paintings often done by the soldiers themselves and photographs. There is even the only image of Te Kooti. Gate Pa has always fascinated me and the sorry tale of Parihaka is a lesson in peaceful protest. The role of Maori and Settler women is inspirational.

Check this publication out for yourself as it is equally relevant in our homes as it is in the school library