The Meeting Place: Māori and Pākehā Encounters, 1642–1840

Vincent O’Malley


'O'Malley's research is meticulous and thorough. His exposition is thoughtful and entertaining. No assumption is unexamined, no conclusions are jumped to. O'Malley's analysis is solidly founded in the available evidence.' – Matt Bowler, Nelson Mail


How did Māori and Pākehā negotiate a meeting place? Would Māori observe the Sabbath? Should Pākehā fear the power of tapu? Whose view of land ownership and control would prevail? How would Māori rangatira and Pākehā leaders establish the rules of political engagement? Around such considerations about how the world would work, Māori and Pākehā in early New Zealand defined a way of being together. This is a book about that meeting time and place, about a process of mutual discovery, contact and encounter — meeting, greeting and seeing — between Māori and Pākehā from 1642 to about 1840.

After introducing the brief encounters and misunderstandings between European visitors and Māori before 1814, O’Malley focuses his study on the period between 1814 and 1840 when he argues that both peoples inhabited a ‘middle ground’ meeting place in which neither could dictate the political, economic or cultural rules of engagement.  By looking at economic, religious, political and sexual encounters, O’Malley offers a strikingly different picture to traditional accounts of imperial Pākehā power over a static, resistant Māori society.

In this meeting place, O’Malley shows, Māori and Europeans re-evaluated cultural priorities, adapted the customs of the other people that they found useful and sometimes ‘went native’ as they fell over into the other culture. O’Malley concludes with an analysis of how the middle ground gave way around 1840 to a world in which Pākehā had enough power largely to dictate terms.



Vincent O’Malley has a PhD in New Zealand Studies from Victoria University of Wellington and is the author of Agents of Autonomy: Maori Committees in the Nineteenth Century (Huia, 1998), co-author of The Beating Heart: A Political and Socio-Economic History of Te Arawa (Huia, 2008) and co-editor of The Treaty of Waitangi Companion (AUP, 2010).  He runs HistoryWorks, a private company specialising in Treaty research.


Shortlisted for New Zealand Post Book Awards: General Non-Fiction Category 2013


May/June 2012, 228 x 148 mm, 320 pages approx

Paperback, 978 1 86940 594 6, $45, order this book
Ebook, order this ebook


pdf  View sample pages  (3.1 MB PDF)

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