This is a slim NZ Series book on European experiences in New Zealand up until Te Tiriti O Waitangi. It is a timely publication to support the Māori New Zealand history curriculum.
The encounters are a collection of primary sources through journal and diary entries written by early explorers such as Abel Tasman in 1642, J Banks in 1769, to settlers in 1840 when Te Tiriti was formulated. The selection of writings represent a specific timeline providing a European perspective.
Editors G. and S. Ell concede the perspectives are Eurocentric, and claim there were not many Māori writings from 1642 to 1840 (p. 6). Instead, they say one can learn from the early accounts about “...descriptions and Māori culture and the author’s perceptions of it, about traditions and practices, and European attitudes towards them.”
The contents page organises journal accounts into: First Contacts, Missionaries and Traders, Sealers and Whalers, Māori life – and Strange Journeys: such as an account of Dieffenbach’s ascent of the Egmont maunga. The ascent of Egmont is one example of a cultural clash where standing on the head of a maunga is offensive to Māori because of ancestral connections.
Anchoring these first-hand accounts to specific locations, e.g. Abel Tasman in Golden Bay, allows the reader to not only expand the historical context but potentially identify with a local area.
First encounters contents combine, additionally, with colour plates, information sidebars, lithographs and drawings to present an attractive accessible book that will be a good addition to secondary school libraries.
Title: First Encounters: New Zealand 1642-1840
Author: Edited by Gordon Ell and Sarah Ell
Publisher: Oratia Media, Auckland
Series: NZ Series, Part 4
Publication: April 2021
Ages: Secondary school students
Reviewer: Michele Ayres, Librarian, Motueka High School, Tasman
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
Opening sentence: The stories in this book have been gathered from personal accounts by the first Europeans to visit or settle in New Zealand.
You can buy this book here