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Book review of 'The New Zealand Wars Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa' by Vincent O’Malley
On 12 September 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a historic announcement detailing how, by 2022, all schools and kura (Māori-language immersion schools) across Aotearoa New Zealand would be required to teach key aspects of the country's history, including the New Zealand Wars. A number of catalysts precipitated this, one of which was the May 2019 release of Vincent O’Malley's The New Zealand Wars Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa. Such was its popularity that it completely sold out within weeks (requiring a reprint), the title hitting number one on several bestseller charts.
O’Malley's influential work perfectly captures the zeitgeist of 2019 Aotearoa New Zealand, a nation with an increasing appetite for devouring an accurate retelling of the wars that shaped it. As he explains, following the conclusion in 1872 of the New Zealand Wars, many Pākehā (non-Māori New Zealanders) embraced a highly romanticized version of these conflicts. This book serves as a welcome corrective. It provides a succinct overview of the wars fought across Aotearoa New Zealand between 1845 and 1872, insightfully examining the motivations of the combatants on both sides as and, when sufficient evidence to reveal them has survived, the outcomes of each conflict, and the consequences for the nation today.
Publication titleJournal of Pacific History
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationRankine Rd, Basingstoke, England, Hants, Rg24 8Pr