Auckland, University of Auckland Press, 2017, ISBN: 9781869408657; 512pp.; Price: £62.50
Date accessed: 22 February, 2019
Dame Anne Salmond is one of New Zealand’s most respected public anthropologists and historians. No one has so effectively and lucidly crossed over between the two disciplines in New Zealand scholarship. Her interpretation of New Zealand’s past has had a wide and receptive audience and her now extensive body of work has been immensely important role in helping to normalise being Māori in a non-Māori world. Beginning as an anthropologist with a passing interest in history, she has produced a series of ground-breaking books explaining this world to non-Māori and Māori audiences. Her study of hui (ritualised forms of Māori meeting and discussion) extended from her doctoral thesis and built on her relationship with a remarkable couple, Amiria and Eruera Stirling. She then facilitated autobiographies of both Amiria and Eruera. Through the 1980s most of her focus was on Māori epistemologies. Then a dramatic change in direction. In 1991 she produced Two Worlds: First Meetings Between Māori and Europeans, 1642–1772, where she largely followed J.C. Beaglehole on his journey following James Cook on his three voyages to New Zealand, with Dutch and the French thrown in. Unlike Beaglehole her gaze was on the cultural exchange between Europeans and Polynesian peoples, turning Māori from subjects of European vision to animated and equal participants in fascinating encounters between peoples of different worlds; in Salmond’s view equal worlds. A series of books followed on New Zealand and the Pacific in the early contact period extending both her theme and her method.
Tears for Rangi revisits old voyages and explores new ground. The book is part history, part anthropology and comparative philosophy, part public policy and part autobiography. It starts with the beginning of her intellectual journey, with the Stirlings, revisits her large books on Cook, and moves into relationships between the Anglican missionaries and Māori through to the 1830s, spending a good deal of time with Henry Williams and James Busby running up to He Whakapūtanga (The Declaration of Independence, 1835) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840), on which the current New Zealand Constitution’s claims of legitimacy rest. Then follows a series of chapters which are present- focused dealing with rivers, land, the sea and people, largely through a series of questions being considered in a variety of different inquiries by the Waitangi Tribunal.
Tears of Rangi provides an opportunity to review not only a single work, but Salmond’s own approach to history, developed over half a century, and culminating in her latest book. Her first books provide the key to understanding Salmond’s perspectives. In Hui she demonstrated the complexity and varied world of Māori relationships and ritual, revealing the resilience of these in the face of colonisation, but also showing how varied these practices were tribe by tribe, location by location. Produced in the 1970s, when the forces of assimilation seemed all but insurmountable, she was far from confident that these cultural forms would survive, particularly given the impact of urbanisation on the young. She feared that the new generations of Māori in cities and towns, away from their cultural hearths, would become isolated from their roots and lose contact with these cultural practices and the ways of thinking that defined them as Māori. Half a century on, Tears of Rangi is a testament to continuing Māori resilience, not so much because of the persistence of cultural practices, but because of the intellectual and cultural heft behind them.
Her books are long, highly detailed and her arguments complex and far from free of academic jargon. Nonetheless, she is an exceptional storyteller. Tears of Rangi is no exception. For European readers, Salmond demonstrates the vitality and resilience of the Māori world. For Māori readers she reinforces an increasing sense of pride in Māori-centred perspectives and even in Māori science. Compared with some of the histories being published today, she does not expect non-Māori readers to feel personally responsible for the colonial past, does not populate her books with European villains and tries to understand rather than blame. She almost invariably treats her historical figures sympathetically and with dignity. While she is highly critical of European claims to intellectual and cultural superiority, she places these in cultural rather than personal contexts.
Her generosity of spirit sits alongside an unshakeable confidence in her own ideas and arguments from her own extensive reading of primary sources. Her history stands outside historiography. She rarely if ever refers to the arguments of other historians and there are notable omissions from her bibliography, including for instance, Richard White’s highly influential Middle Ground, whose terminology she shares, and Andrew Sharp’s monumental biography of Samuel Marsden (although Sharp’s book may well have arrived too late to be included). It would not have mattered as Salmond the historian, rather than Salmond the anthropologist, makes but passing use of the literature on the topics she covers, despite the 1820s to the 1840s and British intervention in New Zealand being the most well-travelled of New Zealand’s histories. In her detailed coverage of the errant missionary, Thomas Kendall, she dedicates her chapters in her references to Judith Binney’s landmark Legacy of Guilt, but makes no other mention of this work, from which she draws extensively. Her chapter on He Whakapūtanga me te Tiriti refers to some historians, but not the detail of vast historical debate taking place before the tribunal in that claim, which took over 600 pages for the tribunal to summarise. Despite being seen very much as a historian, and with good reason, her disciplinary home is still anthropology and rooted in her early experience as a student in the discipline. At times this creates problems, for her command of narrative makes her accounts of events and also their interpretation appear objective truths, rather than extending from careful and transparent debate with a sophisticated literature. There are hints that she treats this literature as too rooted in Enlightenment methodologies to be taken seriously as being ‘shaped by reliance on documents written in English and underpinned by modernist habits of mind’, certainly for any history written without immersion in te ao Māori.
Her own immersion in te ao māori began very early and has its roots in her own family history and through the mentoring of the Stirlings. In a discussion which concludes the autobiography of Eruera Stirling, she produced a manifesto on the future of anthropology in New Zealand as she saw it.
I take anthropology to be not a science, but a humanity in the true sense of the word. Its proper task, I think, is to seek to understand and communicate cultural differences, and in its finest moments to bridge them. At this level anthropology is rooted both in our common humanity and our construction of different worlds of meaning, and wherever people find themselves living side-by-side (as Māori and pakeha do in New Zealand) and yet cultural worlds apart, some such attempted talking out our differences seems to me inevitable.
She went on to say that she dreamt ‘of an anthropology for New Zealand that celebrates both our common humanity and our cultural differences, drawing strength from one without detracting from the other’. She has been true to these long stated objectives throughout her career. Tears of Rangi is concerned with the ‘construction of different worlds of meaning’, and in this book she extends and develops this idea well beyond what has gone before.
While she covers some of the same explorations and encounters of her earlier books, beginning with Two Worlds, this time her messages is more distilled, focused on ontologies, the ways societies consider the nature of being. Salmond’s approach in Two Worlds drew on methods of anthropology for its intellectual framework and history for its primary source informed narratives. It was based on her understanding of the Māori world she had obtained through the Stirlings and her ongoing relationship with Māori. She animated the indigenous lives sketched in the European journals of 17th- and 18th-century explorers using methods and perspectives ignored or unavailable to the earlier historians. The results were lively and human narratives. She did over-generalise the European world, from a limited range of secondary sources, and was criticised in a bruising but partisan attack from Peter Munz for her use of anthropological and historical theory. But these aspects of Two Worlds were peripheral to her primary objectives of bicultural storytelling and this she did extraordinarily well in recognising the vitality and viability of the Māori world.
Although she covers the same ground in Tears of Rangi, her purpose is far grander. What were once largely human encounters, from people with different cultural backgrounds and experiences, are now examples of much larger ontological clashes, where two ways of interpreting reality, two understandings of time, relationships, power and authority, meet head-on. The book begins with reference to the claims of Viveiros de Castro, that all the world’s peoples have a right to ‘ontological self-determination’. Her objective is as political as it is intellectual. Her two worlds are two intellectual and cultural spaces, where reality is defined and performed and each is very different from the other. Exploration and contact through the expansion of Europe placed these worlds in collision and colonisation gave one ascendancy over the other in defining reality.
Nonetheless, Salmond argues that these ontological engagements are positive. They shakeup things, allow for new ways of communicating whether between Hongi Hika and Thomas Kendall or in the negotiations over settlement of the Whanganui River claim, and the development of the idea of a legal personality of the river itself. The Māori world is based on ‘the rhizomatic, ramifying networks of whakapapa, powered by exchange and ideas of mana and tapu’. Her te ao Māori is an integrated universe, where time is non-linear, where all things are integrated by whakapapa, across time and space, all animated by the hau, the vital breath. Inter-relationships and reciprocity govern all things. None of this is static, and the pae, the place were debate and encounters take place, allows new things to emerge. However, with a lifetime experience of the Māori world, Salmond does more than articulate Māori cosmology and the principles on which it rests in ways that are creative and convincing. Her skilled rhetoric and her intellectual and anthropological fluency poses a risk of providing a defining statement of te ao Māori, and in so doing becoming a substitute for the thing it describes. Her use of anthropological terms and concepts normalise te ao Māori for anthropology, but it also normalises anthropology (and its terminology) within te ao Māori.
In contrast, the European world is divided by a Cartesian dualism. Mind is separated from matter, civilised from savage and barbarous peoples and humankind from nature. Time is linear, tracing the history of civilisation from hunters and gatherers to modernity. Salmond makes much of the Enlightenment’s stadial idea of economic and cultural progress where indigenous societies are located on a path towards modernity, depending on how much they reflected idealised periods in the European past. She notes the tendency of European commentators to liken early 19th-century Māori society with British society at the time of the Roman invasion. But she also links these 18th-century interpretations to the much older notion of the Great Chain of Being, which provides a much less flexible (and a very non-Cartesian) cosmology of relationships, linking all things in a hierarchy from God and his angels to rocks at the very bottom. Salmond admits the complexity of Enlightenment thought, and even locates some of these debates on Cook’s Endeavour itself, but in the end both the Māori and the European ontologies are idealised and universalised and very distinct. They govern perceptions of self and of others and they create between them an almost unsurmountable gulf. In her earlier books, the two worlds were social and economic and well as intellectual spaces, but in Tear of Rangi they are almost entirely intellectual. Economics and society do not exist alongside ideas; they flow from them.
There are many aspects of European thinking that are ignored, which could have suggested greater common ground, particularly the way that European history is also genealogical and relationships familial and that Romanticism had much more of an organic view of the universe than did Adam Smith (although the 18th-century Adam Smith also had a much more organic and theistic view of the universe than did the reincarnated Adam Smith of the two centuries since). Nor does she consider common ground between mana and status significant, although she does demonstrate their interaction on many occasions. While Evangelical Christianity was influenced by the Enlightenment, there were significant differences between the two which undermine the cohesion of her modernist ontology, and the Catholic ideas supporting the French Marist mission were barely touched by the Enlightenment. The Samuel Marsden of Andrew Sharp’s biography has ambivalent views on Māori cannibalism, sees Māori behaviour, when not engaged in warfare as superior to that of most Europeans and, far from fixing Māori in some inferior place on a Great Chain of Being, has them capable of levels of civilisation beyond that of the European world. True, all of this required the Grace of God, but that is pretty much all. Marsden’s divine order is not split by Cartesian dualism. Marsden’s assessment of Māori civilisation was also not drawn from the economic measures of the Scottish Enlightenment, but from what he saw as their responsiveness to God’s message, declaring them at one time, ‘far more likely to embrace the Gospel than any other nation of civilised heathens’.
Salmond sees the engagement between her two worlds as creative, but in Tears of Rangi, there is little evidence of synthesis over the centuries of contact: the worlds are separate in the 18th century and they remain separate today, this despite her evidence of some Māori use of the language of modernity. Yet she ends confident that a global future may be more defined by a resurgent te ao Māori than by Enlightenment economics and science. On issues such as land and water, fish and forests, the Waitangi Tribunal today is the pae, where these two worlds now face each other, just as the beach (or even Cook’s cabin) had been for Cook and Tupaia two and a half centuries before. Māori continue to insist, as they have always done, on kaitiakitanga as a foundation with relationships with taonga such as rivers, while on the European side, it is about the ability to control natural resources and profit from them.
If the Māori world is ontologically stable, despite its ability to absorb change, then how do we make sense of debates between Māori about engagement with the European world, about whether to adopt institutions unthinkable before the coming of Europeans, such te ture (the law), Kīngitanga or Māori parliaments? Above all, how do we explain Māori engagement with Christianity? In Tears of Rangi, Salmond deals with missionary Henry Williams in some depth, but ignores the consequences of conversion to Christianity and the impact of the ideas and values on which this rests. If as she acknowledges, Māori were giving up such time honoured practices as polygamy, kai tangata (cannibalism) and releasing slaves, this must have had an impact on Māori ontology. If it did not, then she needs to explain why. Because she does not deal except in passing with the Māori world between 1840 and the late 20th century, she may not have to explain how her arguments about two separate ontologies play out in the ideas of Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi, Rua Kenana, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi and Wiremu Tahupotiki Ratana. But she is certainly aware of these movements and even of the highly respected literature behind them. Hirini Kaa’s informative and highly nuanced discussion of Māori Anglicanism, which shows iwi like Ngāti Porou adopting and adapting Anglicanism for Māori purposes is nowhere here.
She gives Tareha of Ngāpuhi the last word on this question, perhaps revealing her position. Tareha rejected Christianity, and she records him listening to a sermon by Williams on equality of all men before God. He, ‘roaring like a bull’, dismissed the whole idea with the emphatic ‘such beliefs might do for Slaves and Europeans but not for a free and noble people like Ngapuhi’. But such ideas certainly did do for slaves, who would, once released, become the evangelists of the new religion, taking these new ideas to their own iwi well in advance of European missionaries, as Salmond records. But she has also misread the entry in Williams’s journal with significant consequences for her argument. Tareha did not attend Williams’s service in Paihia and his anger was not directed at the CMS missionary. He challenged the Christian and Ngāpuhi Rawiri Taiwhanga at Kororareka on doctrine written in Māori in the Anglican Catechism. Even as early as 1833, ontological engagement had gone beyond Māori on one side and European on the other, it had already become independently enmeshed within the Māori world and in the new media of writing and printing.
Only when it comes to the chapter on people does Salmond have the Māori world swayed by the influence of European law and culture and here she does blame Christianity. A world where once women and children were treated honourably and without violence has at least to some extent been replaced by something that resembles at its worst Jake Heke of Once Were Warriors. Again, Salmond uses a limited range of sources to idealise the relationships between men and women and the treatment of children (while admitting that the treatment of slaves could be very different), juxtaposing an equally idealised but violence and exploitative view of the European world. Salmond argues that European views, as mediated through missionary and Christian teaching, and through the marginalisation of women in the law, were effective in allowing for the subjugation even in kawa (cultural practices on the marae) and tīkanga (law) of at least some Māori women. Not surprisingly, she also shows how many Māori women including Eruera Stirling’s mother, the formidable Mihi Kotukotuku, were able to at least in part to resist this relegation to inferior status. While some women did sign the treaty, she blames the European negotiators for preventing many more. Here I think Salmond has a problem. Her overarching argument is that Māori ontological views in the present reflect those of the past, accommodating change, but far from being overwhelmed by it. And yet on the issue of the treatment of women and children, European ideas were able to undermine fundamental principles of Māori relationships and do so at a time when Māori were still dominant. She cannot have it both ways.
Her chapter on He Whakapfūtanga me Te Tiriri provides an example of both the strengths and the weaknesses of Salmond’s approach. It does not quite start as she intended. She entitles the chapter ‘Our Words Will Sink like a Stone’, from a submission made by Dr Patu Hohepa, who quoted Mohi Tawhai’s well known warning to the future.
Our sayings will sink to the bottom like a stone, but your sayings will float light, like wood of the whau tree, and always remains seen. Am I lying?
Salmond knows the quotation well and has used it many times, including as the opening lines of Two Worlds, but here she has wrongly attributed it to another rangatira of another iwi, Panakareao from Muriwhenua (whom she also know well). Hohepa’s submission, with its anger at the ‘lies of Hobson and others’, demonstrates the highly charged, highly polarised and even theatrical nature of the tribunal inquiry in Northland. The claimants were determined to use the hearings to demonstrate that they had not ceded their sovereignty to Hobson, when they put their names to the Treaty of Waitangi. The Crown and its witnesses were clearly the enemy, held symbolically responsible for insisting that Ngāpuhi submit to the English laws of 19th-century governors and, eventually, to those of the European-dominated New Zealand Parliament. The Waitangi Tribunal had in the past hovered close to the point of denying that Māori had ceded sovereignty in the treaty, while at other times seeming to accept it. The claimants went into this enquiry, with its focus on the two constitutional events resting on the mana of the Ngāpuhi, determined that once and for all they would demonstrate that they had not willingly given up their mana and their tino rangatiratanga to the Crown.
Salmond works this polarisation into her argument. She contrasts Māori ability to reconstruct from Māori knowledge the principles and world views which governed Māori actions before 1840, and certainly at the Treaty of Waitangi, with the stadial document driven texts of European scholars. The pae of the tribunal she sees as the expression of her ontological divide.
In front of the Waitangi Tribunal 170 years later, however, witnesses with little knowledge of the Māori language, ancestral practices or habits of mind often spoke confidently about life in the Bay of Islands and Māori negotiations over the Treaty in 1840, without realising how far their understandings were shaped by reliance on documents written in English and underpinned by modernist habits of mind.
The divide was real enough, but Salmond’s forcing these divisions into different methodological approaches and understandings of knowledge is misleading. Her own approach to her chapter in Tears of Rangi and her participation in the inquiry is evidence enough. As a piece of narrative, the chapter superbly summarises the events leading up to and including the Treaty of Waitangi and its signing in Northland. She had the benefit of the tribunal’s almost exhaustive report on which to draw, but nonetheless, this concise account is as good as any of the many that have gone before. But it is also, to use Salmond’s term, modernist. In structure and use of evidence it, differed only in some points of interpretation with the vast bulk of the evidence presented by the Crown’s and Tribunal’s historical witnesses. Her chapter is purged of the oral history narratives that claimants presented to the tribunal, because in key points the detail of this evidence (rather than its overall message which Salmond does capture) were not credible, and the tribunal also avoided them. Unlike Hopeha, she does not blame Hobson.
Salmond’s own position, understandably shared by many of the claimant witnesses, rejected any suggestion that Māori evidence before the tribunal had in any way been influenced by ideas and explanations coming from outside, not only from outside the Māori world, but from outside the perspectives of the individual iwi involved. The content and focus of the evidence suggested otherwise. Māori evidence was dominated by the notion that there were two treaties, an English text to be rejected, and the Māori text to be embraced. The problem, and it was repeatedly expressed in this way, is that the Crown had imposed a fake text, by relying on the English draft of the treaty, which transferred complete sovereignty while the Māori text simply confirmed and promised to protect Māori in their sovereign rights. Here, Salmond’s inability or unwillingness to engage with historiography lets her down. She argues that it is now ‘almost universally agreed’ that the two treaties ‘express very different understandings of future relations between Māori and Europeans‘. This is just not case. More recent interpretations, including my own, stress a much greater degree of harmony between the two texts, without arguing that Māori consigned all rights of sovereignty to the Crown. More importantly, the whole emphasis on the two texts can be criticised and Anne Salmond’s material provides good support for this argument. The texts themselves play a minor role in giving meaning to the events around the signing of the treaty. It is only the capture of the Treaty of Waitangi by legal forums, such the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal, that has allowed the text of the Treaty of Waitangi to overwhelm the context, including the Māori context of the Treaty.
Until relatively recently Māori used both versions of the Treaty of Waitangi as it suited them and the English version, explicitly identifying forests and fisheries, was more useful in some litigation. Māori grievances against the Crown leading to the Northern War of 1845 can all be justified as breaches of even a narrow reading of the English text. Restriction on felling of kauri was clearly in violation of article two’s promise in English to protect ‘exclusive and undisturbed’ possession of forests and taking as Crown land, land not awarded to settlers, but not sold to the Crown by Māori was also a clear breach of the article two text in English. No right to impose excise duties was negotiated in any form at Waitangi. Until the 1980s it did not matter much which text of the Treaty of Waitangi was appealed to, the courts considered both beyond their jurisdiction. Either one could be a symbol of promises broken. Historically, Māori appeals to the treaty combined protest over resources lost and rights to constitutional autonomy: they often challenged the authority of the New Zealand Parliament to make law over Māori. However, they very rarely questioned the sovereignty of the monarch and often appealed to the monarch to protect Māori from the powers of the New Zealand Parliament. The idea that there were two very different treaties on 5 February 1840 is, in recent decades, largely due to the influence of Ruth Ross’s 1972 article in the New Zealand Journal of History, which has played a dominant role in interpreting the treaty negotiations ever since. Academics and lawyers latched onto Ross’s view that the Māori text of the treaty did not adequately transfer sovereignty. This provided academic support to tribal histories that denied the Crown’s assertions that ancestors had given the Crown powers to impose laws on Māori without their explicit consent. Ross’s conclusions clearly influenced Ranginui Walker in his highly influential 1991 Māori history Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle without End and Walker sat on the Northland Waitangi Tribunal.
To explain how these two very different treaties emerged, Ross blamed Henry Williams’s duplicity in his drafting the Treaty of Waitangi and presenting it to rangatira in a way that would limit Māori understandings of the transfer of sovereignty. He used kawanatanga, when he should have used mana to describe what was being given up to Queen Victoria. This is a view that Salmond also owns, and one of the few positions where she was in conflict with many of the other historian witnesses. In my view, whereas Henry Williams could and did use the term mana in the Declaration of Independence, as something that Māori possessed, he could not use it for sovereignty in the Treaty of Waitangi, because sovereignty in that context had to be transferable, and mana was not. Without this level of deliberate deception, two treaties that are so different in intent and meaning could not have emerged. Ross is right about that, but she saw no problem in blaming Henry Williams as she thought little of missionaries. Salmond on the other hand recognises Henry Williams as an honest and forthright individual, whatever other faults he may have had, but still implicitly accuses him of deception in his work as the Treaty’s translator. A recent legal history of the English treaty by Ned Fletcher, which Salmond cites, argues that ‘British sovereignty was not seen as inconsistent with plurality in government and law.’ Salmond largely dismisses this because it does not explain ‘why Williams used such different terms to translate this key concept in Māori in He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti’. On the contrary, it provides a very clear explanation of why in the Treaty of Waitangi he tried to balance the powers being given the governor and those retained by rangatira. In short, the idea that sovereignty would be shared is consistent with both the English and Māori texts of the treaty, when understood in the specific context of 1840.
Exploring the context of the Treaty of Waitangi provides in many ways a better platform for appreciating Māori understandings of the Treaty than endless speculation on the meaning of the texts. First, there is almost no discussion at all in the 20 years after the signings of the specific articles of the Treaty, undermining the argument that the wording of the texts was fundamentally important in Māori understanding of the event. There was also no appreciation that the Treaty of Waitangi extinguished Māori rights for rangatira to continue to control the affairs of iwi. Far from seeing the treaty as only respecting Māori self-government at a tribal level, a significant number of Māori would argue that the treaty gave them the right to be part of the new constitutional structures created by the governor. Above all, rangatira argued that the Queen Victoria had promised to protect Māori from the greed of settlers. Modernist scholarship, the tainted and partial lens Salmond used to condemn some of the history presented in the hearing, provided a very substantial part of the argument in support of long-held and strongly believed understandings that Māori rightfully retained and should continue to retain lawful authority over all things Māori. Māori ability to borrow without compromise or at least knowingly aware of the consequences of such compromises should be more celebrated.
Salmond ends in arguing that Māori pathways provide alternatives to contemporary capitalist modes of production and relationships based on Cartesian dualism. Networks, the underlying feature of whakapapa, provide more sustainable and appropriate ways of managing communities. I am not so confident that capitalism can be explained as the embodiment of Christian and Enlightenment ideas. To make her argument fit, she down plays or ignores some difficult issues. In her section on the sea, she champions Māori anti-globalisation and anti-capitalism protests of the last decade, critically dismissing in little more than a page the Sealord settlement of 1992 which made Māori major players in New Zealand’s commercial fisheries. Yet this capitalist solution of Māori grievances over fisheries was also the result of the pae, created before the tribunal and in the treaty settlement negotiations. The tribunal heard fisheries claims over resource loss and economic marginalisation and the settlement turned them into fishing quota and shares.
Māori corporations do attempt to maintain the principles of te ao Māori in their business practices, but Māori fishing is still a business, has to exist in an international capitalist market, and has to provide profits for its beneficiaries. Moreover, tribal charitable trusts and corporations, which are also modernist or capitalist vehicles, attempt to balance corporate goals with grass-roots relevance to their marae and widely spread tribal populations. A thriving Māori fishing industry in a capitalist world is as much a product of the Treaty of Waitangi today as is giving a legal identity to the Whanganui River. Salmond has confidence in the Waitangi Tribunal to be a place where these two ontological worlds can productively engage with each other. But it might be just as easily to conclude that the Treaty settlement process has incorporated Māori much more effectively into modernity and capitalism, than that achieved by the Native Land Court in the 19th century. Recognising kaitiakitanga in the Whanganui River is an example on one aspect of Treaty settlements, creating corporate tribal enterprises is the more common experience of iwi settling with the Crown. Some have done well, other with less capital to begin with have been far less successful.
Salmond is hopefully right, te ao Māori will survive: it has survived bigger challenges in the past. However, Māori resilience can be seen as built on far more engagement and incorporation of modernity than Salmond appears prepared to admit. Tupaia used European tools to create Polynesian arts, Hongi adopted European weapons to pursue traditional competitive claims against neighbours and kin. But eventually, surprisingly quickly even, Māori would not be in one world using the tools of another. They were living in both worlds simultaneously. I am drawn back to the image of Amiria Stirling as a young girl over a century ago, living in Wellington going out with a Pākehā boyfriend, believing in romantic love and that young women should make their own choices about whom they marry. Her values and aspirations were quintessentially modern. The Māori world had different views of her future and arranged her highly successful taumau (arranged marriage) with Eruera Stirling, very much against her wishes and a union that at the time she strongly resisted.
For a historian with no claims to be an anthropologist, working in the world from the middle of the 1830s to the late 20th century, a time period Salmond explores barely at all, what has been notable has been Māori engagement with modernity, mobilising its ideas and resources while retaining something fundamentally Māori along the way. Modernity is yet another tool of resistance. As an anthropologist, Salmond sees Māori resilience as cosmological and epistemological. I see this resilience in the persistence of institutions such as hui, which Salmond explored over four decades ago. But as a historian, I see Māori resilience as also tied to a myriad of highly contested and very specific histories of mana. These are malleable and creative enough to absorb new ideas and reinvent the past as all living societies do. In the end, these histories still link living people to rivers, to the land and the sea and to each other and the past to the present. Salmond’s idealised worlds appear to me too hard edged, too impermeable and too non-transferable. They do not allow enough space for the huge degree of intellectual and cultural engagement which has taken place within the Māori world through its renewed contact with the world beyond Aotearoa after 1830, despite her hope that te ao Māori may show the way in reforming a damaged globe. They also ignore the economics and demography of colonisation, but that is another story. Tears of Rangi is a magnificent enterprise: but its strengths should not crowd out other possibilities.
 Anne Salmond, Hui: A Study of Maori Ceremonial Gatherings (Wellington: Reed, 1975).
 Amiria Manutahi Stirling and Anne Salmond, Amiria: The Life Story of a Maori Woman (Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1976); Eruera Stirling and Anne Salmond, Eruera, the Teachings of a Maori Elder (Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1980).
 Anne Salmond, Between Worlds: Early Exchanges between Maori and Europeans, 1773-1815 (Auckland: Viking, 1997); The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas (London: Allen Lane, 2003); Aphrodite's Island: The European Discovery of Tahiti (Auckland: Viking, 2009); Bligh: William Bligh in the South Seas (Auckland: Viking, 2011).
 Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, Cambridge Studies in North American Indian History. (Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Andrew Sharp, The World, the Flesh & the Devil : The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765-1838 (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2016).
 Anne Salmond, Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2017), p. 247.
 Stirling and Salmond; ibid, p. 253.
 Ibid, p. 254
 Peter Munz, ‘The Two Worlds of Anne Salmond in Postmodern Fancy-Dress’, New Zealand Journal of History, 28, 1 (1994). See also, Salmond’s reply to Munz, ‘Antipodean Crab Antics’, New Zealand Journal of History 28, 1 (1994), 76-9.
 Salmond, Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds, p. 1.
 Judith Binney, The Legacy of Guilt; a Life of Thomas Kendall (Auckland: Published for the University of Auckland by the Oxford U.P, 1968); Judith Binney, Gillian Chaplin, and Craig Wallace, Mihaia: The Prophet Rua Kenana and His Community at Maungapohatu (Auckland: Auckland University Press/Oxford University Press, 1979); Judith Binney and Gillian Chaplin, Ngā Morehu. The Survivors (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1986); Judith Binney, Redemption Songs. A Life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki (Wellington: Auckland University Press/Bridget Williams Books, 1995); "Christianity and the Maoris to 1840: A Comment," New Zealand Journal of History 3, no. 2 (1969).
 Hirini Kaa, "He Ngākau Hou: Te Hāhi Mihinare and the Renegotiation of Mātauranga, C.1800-1992" (University of Auckland, 2014).
 Salmond, Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds, p. 258.
 The actual quotations were ‘roaring like an infuriated bull’ and ‘This doctrine as observed may do for Slaves and Europeans but not for a free and noble people like the Ngapuhi, therefore they will not receive it’. Henry Williams, The Early Journals of Henry Williams, Senior Missionary in New Zealand of the Church Missionary Society; 1826-40, ed. Lawrence M. Rogers (Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1961), p. 278.
 Salmond, Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds, p. 247.
 Two Worlds: First Meetings between Maori and Europeans, 1642-1772 (Auckland: Viking, 1991), p. iii;
 Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds, p. 247.
 Ibid, p. 263.
 R. M. Ross, "Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Texts and Translations," New Zealand Journal of History 6, no. 2 (1972).
 Ranginui Walker, Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle without End (Auckland: Penguin, 1990).
 Ned Fletcher, "A Praiseworth Device for Amusing an Pacifying Savages? What the Framers Meant by the English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi" (University of Auckland, 2014), cited Salmond, Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds, p. 285.
Michael Belgrave’s review is thoughtful, and provocative. I am grateful to him for his care and insight. As he points out in these reflections on Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds (and earlier works), I am an anthropologist, not an historian. While studying the past in New Zealand and the Pacific, I’ve drawn on documents, oral histories and the findings of other disciplines, including linguistics, archaeology, the environmental sciences, philosophy and history, to try and illuminate early exchanges between Europeans and Pacific islanders.
In these works, I sought to understand these encounters from Pacific as well as European vantage-points, in so far as is humanly possible. Given the complexity of the different cultural traditions involved, from Europe as well as from the Pacific, the range of the surviving evidence, and the distances between present and past ways of living in these places, the task is riddled with pitfalls, and the risks of over-simplification and the limits on understanding are formidable. Any findings are bound to be partial, and provisional.
If one sets out to investigate these early exchanges, however, whether as an historian or anthropologist, some such scholarly inquiry seems to me indispensable. In New Zealand, one might suppose, a deep study of Maori language, ancestral practices and ideas would be prerequisite to any historical inquiry into early interactions between Maori and Europeans. In European historiography, after all, a person who cannot speak French (for instance), and who has not studied French literature, philosophy and everyday life in depth and detail, would have little chance of being recognized as an authority on the history of France. There is no reason why the scholarly standards that apply to the study of Maori life in New Zealand should be any different.
In New Zealand historiography, however, there has been no taken-for-granted assumption that in order to investigate early (and later) engagements between Maori and Europeans, a deep study of the Maori language, philosophies and ways of living is essential. Many major works have been written without meeting these conditions. While these works claim scholarly authority, the relations between knowledge and power that they exhibit are intimate and profound. In Tears of Rangi (and other works about cross-cultural encounters in New Zealand), I’ve taken a different tack by drawing on Maori as well as modernist philosophies to explore exchanges between Maori and Europeans, and Maori texts and oral histories as well as other kinds of evidence that might illuminate these encounters.
Michael Belgrave’s reflections on my trajectory as a scholar are mostly fair, and thought-provoking. The only major disagreement I have with his review is the claim that when I talk about different ‘worlds’ in New Zealand, these are bounded and timeless entities, isolated from each other and unchanging. Its difficult to understand this, when Tears of Rangi is all about exploration, adaptation and innovation arising from the shifting and complex engagements between (and among) Maori and others over time. In speaking about different ‘worlds,’ I’ve drawn on relational terms in Maori - te ao māori (the ancestral Maori world) and te ao pākeha (the European / modernist world) – that are anything but static and self-contained. These terms, themselves the product of cross-cultural exchanges, refer to ways of living which have interacted and mutually transformed each other in New Zealand over the past 250 years.
As I tried to explain in Tears of Rangi:
‘In these early encounters with Europeans, Maori began to refer to their own ancestral ways as te ao māori (the familiar, everyday world) in contrast with te ao pākeha (the world of the strangers). If one uses the term ‘world’ in English as the best translation for ao in Maori (as I have done, for instance, in the sub-title of this book), it can be misleading, however. In Maori, ao is a dimension of reality, usually translated as ‘world,’ but without the implication of a bounded, self-contained, singular entity that underpins that term in English.
Rather, the whakapapa (genealogical) networks that structure te ao māor, shaping its patterns, are intrinsically dynamic and open-ended. Strangers can be bound into these living webs by acts of generosity and alliance, often marked by gifts of taonga (ancestral treasures) including names, knowledge, artefacts, sexual partners or children, or severed from them by acts of aggression and humiliation – both of which require utu, equal (or greater) return over time.
In this way of being, a person is constituted by their place in the relational networks, and in speaking Maori, the state and nature of one’s relationships are constantly being negotiated. … As Mauss pointed out in The Gift, however, notions of reciprocity and gift exchange are not unique to “exotic” societies, but are also present in Europe.(1) This allowed early European visitors to New Zealand to make some sense of their exchanges with Maori. As Captain Cook observed, “I have allways found them of a Brave, Noble, Open and benevolent disposition, but they are a people that will never put up with an insult if they have an oppertunity to resent it”.(2)
While such “rough intelligibility” allowed relationships to be forged, efforts at engagement between Maori and Europeans often backfired, thwarted by differing assumptions about how the world works. At the same time in these encounters, hidden premises sometimes came to light, making it possible for new ideas and practices to emerge as taken-for-granted forms of order were challenged. The element of surprise in such meetings was (and still is) at once disruptive, and creative’ (pp. 16-17).
In the book, I sought to explore some of these taken-for-granted forms of order and hidden premises as they emerged, and still emerge in cross-cultural exchanges in New Zealand. Ideas about ‘savagery’ and ‘civilisation’, for instance, and the virtues of Western or modernist ways of knowing and living over tikanga māori (Maori ideas and practices) have proved to be exceptionally resilient, causing extreme harm and damage to Maori people and their interests. Such assumptions may even underpin the otherwise inexplicable neglect of Maori language and culture in much New Zealand historiography, past and present.
At the same time, it is not all a matter of conflict and clashes. Another abiding interest has been the ‘rough intelligibility’ that may be crafted from resonances between different ontological framings – between whakapapa, for instance (which uses the idiom of kin networks to order the relations between all forms of life, including people, plants, animals, land, waterways and the ocean), and the ‘web of life’ in the Enlightenment and Romantic thought, or complex networks and systems in contemporary science. Collisions and convergences alike can help to generate new ways of thinking and living, and this is what the book was all about.
I have other, more detailed points of disagreement with the review – for instance, when Belgrave claims I used a ‘limited range of sources to idealise the relationships between [Maori] men and women and the treatment of children’. In Tears of Rangi, I note a contrast between the physical chastisement often used in British households in the period, and early European eyewitness accounts of Maori domestic life that remark on the lack of violence in Maori families, and the ‘remarkable tenderness and solicitous care bestowed upon [children] by the parents’.(3)
The most reliable evidence on such matters comes from early European travellers and residents who spent time in Maori households before they were much influenced by missionary teachings. I’m very familiar with this material, having worked with it for 40 years. I quoted 13 such sources on this topic, and could have cited many more to the same effect. This point really matters, because many contemporary New Zealanders (including many Maori) are convinced that ancestral Maori domestic life was savage, brutish and violent, a prejudgement that is not supported by the evidence, and causes infinite harm. There are other, similar points of contention that I could raise, but perhaps this will suffice.
In quoting an earlier work of mine, Eruera: The Teachings of a Maori Elder, which discussed aspirations for anthropology in New Zealand (and perhaps elsewhere), Belgrave pinpointed a key ambition. As I wrote in Cambridge in 1980:
‘I take anthropology to be not a science, but a humanity in the true sense of the word. Its proper task, I think, is to seek to understand and communicate cultural differences, and in its finest moments to bridge them. At this level anthropology is rooted both in our common humanity and our construction of different worlds of meaning, and wherever people find themselves living side-by-side (as Maori and pakeha do in New Zealand) and yet cultural worlds apart, some such attempt at talking out our differences seems to me inevitable.’(4)
I see my work as an anthropologist as part of this long, ongoing conversation – one that is lived as well as spoken, transforming all parties through its controversies and alliances. Tears of Rangi: Experiments across Worlds is itself an experiment in thinking about possible futures, as well as the past. As one might say in Maori, ‘Mauria ko ōku painga, waiho ko ōku wherū’ – ‘Take what is good in this, and leave the rest behind’.
- Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, trans. W.D. Halls (London, 1990).Back to (1)
- James Cook, The Journals of Captain James Cook II: The Voyage of the Resolution and Adventure 1772–1775, vols. I and II, ed. J. C. Beaglehole (London, 1969), p.653.Back to (2)
- Cruise, 1824, cited in Tears of Rangi p. 459.Back to (3)
- Eruera Stirling and Anne Salmond, Eruera: The Teachings of a Maori Elder (Oxford, 1980), p. 253.Back to (4)