Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History

Bridget Williams Books

Shortlisted for the 2015 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards.

Winner of the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize.

Gold winner at the Pride in Print Awards 2015.

Selected by the New Zealand Listener as one of the best books of 2014 – ‘Years in the making and containing 500 images, this is a majestic charting of Māori history from beginnings to present day.'

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History charts the sweep of Māori history from ancient origins through to the twenty-first century. Through narrative and images, it offers a striking overview of the past, grounded in specific localities and histories.

The story begins with the migration of ancestral peoples out of South China, some 5,000 years ago. Moving through the Pacific, these early voyagers arrived in Aotearoa early in the second millennium AD, establishing themselves as tangata whenua in the place that would become New Zealand. By the nineteenth century, another wave of settlers brought new technology, ideas and trading opportunities – and a struggle for control of the land. Survival and resilience shape the history as it extends into the twentieth century, through two world wars, the growth of an urban culture, rising protest, and Treaty settlements. Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Māori are drawing on both international connections and their ancestral place in Aotearoa.

Fifteen stunning chapters bring together scholarship in history, archaeology, traditional narratives and oral sources. A parallel commentary is offered through more than 500 images, ranging from the elegant shapes of ancient taonga and artefacts to impressions of Māori in the sketchbooks and paintings of early European observers, through the shifting focus of the photographer’s lens to the response of contemporary Māori artists to all that has gone before.

The many threads of history are entwined in this compelling narrative of the people and the land, the story of a rich past that illuminates the present and will inform the future.

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