April 29, 2016

Modernism and the colonisation of New Zealand

Colonisation of NZ falls within the era of modernist project(s) and also at a late stage of British imperialism, when both the techniques and justifications were well-established. This accounts for a lot of settler attitudes and actions. For example, assumptions about their own superiority and entitlements were not thought of as questionable, but as knowledge. Somewhat garbled Darwinism was rife. The English were the fittest, and therefore destined for survival, at the expense of ‘inferior’ humans and all other species. Self-appointed scientists, all over Europe and North America, pursued the study of extinction as an interesting and inevitable phenomenon.

Buller and his ilk sent thousands of the skins and skeletons of birds back to the Natural History Museums of Europe, in Buller’s case this included the shooting of the last Huia. Read the rest of this entry »

July 20, 2014

Colonial Street Names… Fenton Street

I remember buzzing along that big main road in Rotorua, Fenton Street, and idly wondering where the name came from. Well, I’ve just done a spot of research so now I know.


Francis Dart Fenton was a lawyer who became the first judge of the Native Land Court under the legislation of 1865. This Act put in place what was needed for the direct purchase of land – putting land into individual title. Recognising that huge numbers of acres hand been wrongly confiscated, the Court’s early task was the return of that land, but whereas the land had previously been communally held, and administered by rangatira, it was returned in individual title.
June 18, 2014

Colonial street names… Cameron Street

General Sir Duncan Cameron, who led the Highland Brigade at Balaclava during the Crimean War, arrived in New Zealand to lead the army assembled by Governor Grey. Made up of British troops, various volunteer settlers, and some “friendly” Māori  (fall-out from divide and rule tactics).
February 12, 2014

White-washing History with Monuments

This land war monument stands on Symonds St, Auckland, in a triangle of grass and trees at the top of Wakefield Street. As I recall, the lady used to be holding up a laurel wreath, which must have fallen victim to protest or student humor.

ss monument 3

symond street monument

When I first encountered it I should think I must have been five years old. I was excited to be in a city where even the buildings had writing on them! I was into reading in a big way, and my patient mother was no doubt glad of a few minutes to pause in front of a whole page of challenge.

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October 11, 2013

Colonial Myths: ‘He iwi kotahi tātou’

On 6th February 1840, Governor Hobson is reported to have first proclaimed the famous words “he iwi kotahi tātou” to Māori rangatira as they signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi. These words have often been translated to mean ‘we are one people’ and have had an enduring impact on our colonial relationships.


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