History, heritage, and colonialism

Historical consciousness, britishness, and cultural identity in New Zealand, 1870–1940

This book presents an examination of the nexus between empire and colonial identity. Exploring the politics of history-making and interest in preserving the material remnants of the past in late nineteenth and early twentieth century colonial society, it covers indigenous pasts, as well as those of European origin. While the focus is on New Zealand, the book examines Australian and Canadian experiences to analyse the different groups and political interests. It seeks to highlight the complex network of separate and often conflicting influences upon national identity, ranging from the individual, to the community, to the national, to the transnational. The book begins by analysing the intersection between ethnographic exhibition and colonisation. While considering Maori material culture more broadly, it focuses on the place of Maori historical and cultural sites, and immovable material culture, within tourism, exhibition, and museum practice. The Centennial was a major step towards the creation of nation and the breaking down of regional parochialisms. Considering the place of history and heritage in early twentieth-century Australia and Canada alongside that of New Zealand, a number of things become clear. As New Zealand became an increasingly urbanised country, the mnemonic significance of the distant racial frontier of the early colonial period and the New Zealand Wars was trumped by the remnants of European history in the landscape. Port Arthur offers a valuable window into local attitudes to the historical fabric, originating with the small community so dependent upon the visitors the site brought in.

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