It’s 180 years since a treaty was signed outside the Resident’s House in the Bay of Islands by which Maori ceded sovereignty to the British crown. It remains the only such treaty in the world; the British signed many treaties with many peoples, but none involved a cession of sovereignty. Of course, the question remains … More Waitangi Day 2020
Eighty nine years ago, on 3 February, my home district of Hawke’s Bay was laid waste by a massive earthquake that destroyed the two main centres, damaged a wide swath of central New Zealand, and killed at least 256. Hundreds more were seriously injured, and thousands hurt in ways that many did not bother to … More Remembering the Quake of '31
I’ve written an article for a lifestyle magazine. It’s on sheep. Really. I’ve covered the early history of sheep in New Zealand, and there will likely be more in the series – including the stories of sheep rustling, fast business deals and general adventuring that went on in back-country New Zealand’s wool industry around 150 … More A short history of sheep in New Zealand's Wild West era
There is a notion that history consists of ‘the facts’ – that all you have to do is discover ‘the facts’, which are literally true at face value, and that these ‘facts’ then ‘speak for themselves’. Such thinking, among other things, has fuelled the kind of dribble that I see pouring from the minds and … More Why the way we think about history is important
The decision this week that New Zealand history should be taught in New Zealand schools is long overdue. Inevitably, the question is ‘what’ history – an issue raised by the backlash brigade, who object to the Maori renaissance and the way society has rejected the old ideas of colonialism in the last generation. The broad … More Why history must be taught in New Zealand schools
Today, 25 April, is New Zealand’s memorial day – Anzac Day. It’s the day when we remember all our war dead, more than half of whom died in just one campaign, the Western Front. Today I’m re-posting a short extract from my book, The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front, pondering the … More Lest we forget: the memory of war
Back in 2001 I wrote a book on New Zealand’s naval history. Blue Water Kiwis was picked up by the Royal New Zealand Navy to mark their sixtieth anniversary that year, and launched (but not literally) on the flight-deck of HMNZS Te Mana. I remember that evening rather well, not least because my wife and … More Blue Water Kiwis – second edition out now!