Acknowledging a selective collective memory: Finding out about the New Zealand Wars with Vincent O’Malley: WORD Christchurch

I've spent my whole life living in Aotearoa New Zealand, but I'll be the first to admit that I know waaaay more about British history than I do about our own local history. When I was in high school (back in the late '90s/early 2000s) our school had a choice of which 7th form/ year 13 Bursary History option they offered: New Zealand History, or Tudor England. I loved British history, and was overjoyed when they chose the Tudor option.

Thankfully, the years since I've left high school have opened my eyes to the fact that the history of our country is far more interesting, varied, and valuable than my friends or I realised as teenagers. Back then, I could have told you where and when The Treaty of Waitangi, opens a new window was signed, and that there'd been a big Influenza epidemic, opens a new window in 1918, and that New Zealand was the first country which gave women the vote (thank you Kate Sheppard, opens a new window!) ... and that would be about it. It's quite embarrassing to think I left school knowing so little about my own country, so I have made a real effort to remedy that, and to learn about how we came to be where we are now.

But I know I'm not the only person who doesn't have as much of an awareness of our history as they should. Our past informs our future, and that is why it is really important for historians, authors, and others to pass on what has happened in our history. Without knowing about our past, how will we learn from our mistakes, or properly honour those who have made a real contribution to making our society the way it is now?

One of the major events that is often overlooked in the timeline of Aotearoa's history is the collection of battles and actions known as The New Zealand Wars. Fought between Māori and the British between 1845 and 1872, these wars had a huge impact on our history, yet are often something we only learn about by chance, rather than being a part of our schools' social sciences or history curriculum.

New Zealand historian Vincent O'Malley will talk about this part of Aotearoa's history, and about his newest book (The New Zealand Wars Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa, opens a new window ) when he speaks with with Ngā Tahu historian Mike Stevens, opens a new window at Vincent O'Malley: The New Zealand Wars, opens a new window (5pm to 6pm, Saturday 31 August at The Piano) when he comes to WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View, opens a new window later this month. He will also be part of Owning History (1pm to 2pm, Saturday 31 August at The Piano) where, along with Simon Winchester and Sacha McMeeking, he will talk about what our past means for our present and our future. 

Come along and hear O'Malley speak, and in the meantime check out some of his books, opens a new window from your local library.

WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View

WORD Christchurch presents Shifting Points of View — a spectacular line-up of New Zealand and international speakers to warm you up and get you thinking. Shifting Points of View runs from Sunday 18 August to Saturday 14 September 2019. Visit our page on WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View for more information, previews, reviews, and WORD reading.

Events featuring Vincent O'Malley

Owning history: Vincent O'Malley, Simon Winchester, and Sacha McMeeking Saturday 31 August 1pm at The Piano

How can we see where we’re going, if we don’t know where we’ve been? In his recent Michael King Memorial Lecture, historian Vincent O’Malley stressed the importance of teaching the bloody story of the New Zealand Wars in our schools, to understand today’s society, and recently gave historical context to the Ihumātao dispute in The Spinoff.  Simon Winchester has spent his career bringing to life stories from the past, and Sacha McMeeking’s research interests lie in Māori futures, which are inextricably linked to history. Chaired by Peter Field.

Vincent O'Malley: The New Zealand Wars Saturday 31 August 5pm at The Piano

The New Zealand Wars profoundly shaped the course and direction of our nation’s history. Fought between the Crown and various groups of Māori between 1845 and 1872, remnants and reminders from these conflicts and their aftermath can be found all over the country. The wars are an integral part of the New Zealand story but we have not always cared to remember or acknowledge them. Vincent O’Malley discusses his latest book The New Zealand Wars Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa on the causes, events and consequences of the New Zealand Wars (Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa) with Ngāi Tahu historian, Mike Stevens.

More Vincent O'Malley

Find more books by Vincent O'Malley in our collection.