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.
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of the book. The book focuses on New Zealand as a topic of enquiry. It expresses that in looking at how societies use the past, the 'local', the 'nation', and the 'transnational' cannot be considered outside of the context of one another. The book also focuses on the place of Maori material culture, performance, and the Maori historic landscape within the emergent New Zealand tourism industry between the beginning of the 1880s and the early 1920s. It explores Pakeha interest in the history and heritage of European New Zealand. Focusing on the period from 1890 to the mid-1930s. The book also explores the 'use and abuse' of history and heritage in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Canada and Australia.
Tourism and the exhibition of Maori material culture
This chapter describes 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 demand for 'authentic' Maori artefacts from tourists was one of the driving forces behind the introduction of the Maori Antiquities Act in 1901. The apparent gulf between Pakeha 'experts' and Maori on the issue of 'authenticity' reflected different attitudes towards 'culture'. For Pakeha, culture was essentially fixed to particular objects and practices, and the relationship that these had to a particular people. While interest in protecting Maori material culture grew steadily in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, one area absent from the broader public consciousness was rock art.
Pakeha identity and the preservation and neglect of Maori material culture
Considering the question of Maori art at a meeting of the Wellington Philosophical Society in early 1915, the historian James Cowan and ethnographer Elsdon Best lamented the apparent failure of Maori culture to influence Pakeha New Zealand. Now, with the trade in Maori antiquities booming, it seemed it was New Zealand's turn to lose out to the cultural appetites of Europe. 'A century ago', warned one Member during debate on the topic a few months later, 'the continent of Europe was overrun by the Emperor Napoleon. While the museum's collection policy acknowledged the growing importance of Maori material culture to the New Zealand psyche, the museum also continued to view Maori objects in fundamentally collection-based terms. Pakeha were also employing Maori culture on a much larger scale than just for special occasions. Maori design also featured as a common motif in the reconstruction of Napier after the 1931 earthquake.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, interest in historic landscape had also grown as a natural corollary of the growing importance of the wars to the myth of New Zealand's race relations and colonists' quest to identify a history for themselves in their new home. Where the New Zealand Wars stood apart from the earlier borrowing of the Maori past was that here, finally, was a history that the country's European population could identify as its own. The collection and preservation of the heritage of the New Zealand Wars was a watershed in the history of heritage preservation in New Zealand. Like memorial construction, preservation of the historic landscape was not an automatic, unthinking reaction, but a deliberate and often hotly debated response to the perceived importance of maintaining memory. Battlefield ruins and crude colonial buildings were simply not as evocative as classical architecture and a carefully worded inscription.
This chapter expresses that at a time when the 'profession' was more interested in so called 'real' history, the amateur historical tradition laboured to record, collect, and preserve the material remnants of the country's past. The Otago Early Settlers' Association responded with its own plaque commemorating the spot where the pioneer settlers from the John Wickliffe had landed in 1848 'to found this City and Province'. A similar parochialism had been demonstrated twenty-five years earlier when the doctor, historian, and bibliophile Thomas Hocken attempted to persuade the Association to expand its areas of interest to encompass the North Island and the Pacific explorations of Cook and Tasman. Collection and memorialisation were often inseparable, and, in preparation for the writing of many memorial volumes, amateur historians spent hours searching out sources, tirelessly culling newspapers, and poring over school, court, and local authority records.
New Zealand is putting her historical house in order’
Anniversaries are a natural time to take stock, all the more so in colonial societies, who have historically seen major anniversaries as moments of validation. In colonial societies such concerns developed rapidly during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, with history and tradition earlier assuming little importance as commemorations tended to focus on the past not as a marker of cultural tradition or public remembrance but as a yardstick of progress and change. After considering everything from the publication of historical records and competitions for a historical novel to the restoration of buildings and the creation of a chair in New Zealand history, the wide-ranging historical programme was finalised around a flagship series of eleven scholarly 'Centennial Surveys'.
History and heritage in late nineteenth-century Canada and Australia
This chapter offers a counterpoint to the New Zealand experience through an exploration of what were on the surface two vastly different colonial experience of history making, Canada and Australia. It highlights the broader continuity of the perceived place and role of history and heritage in shaping identity in the wider colonial and 'new world' contexts, while also demonstrating the uniqueness of the individual colonial experience. The Canadian experience is also particularly valuable for the insights it provides on the politics of cultural dominance and possession, with the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Canadian pursuit of heritage preservation centred on an Anglo-French more than Anglo-Indigenous dichotomy. In Australia, by comparison, the problem was how to create a usable past while avoiding the pitfalls namely the treatment of Aborigines and the country's sordid convict past.
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. The ubiquity of colonial concern with 'history making', and in particular the perceived didactic power of the past in the preservation and maintenance of 'values'-values that were typically construed within the familial frame of empire and colonial endeavour, and were of concern to amateur and professional historians alike. Collection, even of Maori material culture-initially had little to do with sentimentality, identity, or an acceptance that Maori material culture was inherently important. The emergence of Pakeha interest in the Maori historic landscape plugged into the same themes; however, there was also a domestic motivation, notably the increased leisure time and a growing interest in the outdoors which were a part of the social, cultural, and technological changes of the early twentieth century.