The Treaty of Waitangi and ‘Hobson’s pledge’

I have always thought it ironic that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 largely by accident. If everything had gone according to prospective governor William Hobson’s plans, it would have been signed on 5 February. That was the day Maori assembled outside the house of James Busby at Waitangi to discuss … More The Treaty of Waitangi and ‘Hobson’s pledge’

Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460

It’s the eighty-seventh anniversary today of New Zealand’s most lethal historical disaster;  the Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Around 10.47 am on the sunny morning of 3 February, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck the district and threw the towns of Napier and Hastings into ruin. Damage extended from Gisborne in the north to Whanganui in the south-west, … More Remembering the Hawke’s Bay quake of ’31 – and the ‘big ones’ of 1460

The illusions of revolution – how Karl Marx misled historians…and the world…

I spotted some protestors a while back in central Wellington. “Aha,” I said to myself, “the people’s revolution is happening a century too late.” But it wasn’t. It was a group of public servants wanting a pay rise. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the western world was riven by upheaval; the radical … More The illusions of revolution – how Karl Marx misled historians…and the world…

Learning the dark truth of the human condition

Human reality is a funny thing. Society, as a whole, behaves differently from individuals – yet is made up of them. Understanding people, individually and en masse, is the raison d’etre of the social sciences. And it strikes me that conceptual realities of human nature often emerge in front of our noses, often in microcosm. I … More Learning the dark truth of the human condition