Book on Waikato War illuminates dark period of New Zealand history

Author Vincent O'Malley presents the first copy of The Great War for New Zealand to King Tuheitia at the Waahi Poukai.

Author Vincent O'Malley presents the first copy of The Great War for New Zealand to King Tuheitia at the Waahi Poukai.

In 688 pages Vincent O'Malley brings to light the most brutal and influential conflict in New Zealand's history.

The first single-volume history of the Waikato War since 1879 was presented to King Tuheitia at the Waahi Poukai on Saturday. 

O'Malley's The Great War for New Zealand is an account of the war in the Waikato in 1863–64.

The Great War for New Zealand is the first single-volume history of the Waikato War since 1879.

The Great War for New Zealand is the first single-volume history of the Waikato War since 1879.

The book traverses 200 years to trace both the conflict's origins and its aftermath: from first encounters between Māori and Pākehā in the Waikato region in the early 19th century through to settlement and apology in the late 20th century.
 
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O'Malley said the urge to write the book emerged from research he did for Waitangi tribunals in 2006. 

He said it has been a long process over 10 years to put it all together.

Vincent O'Malley is a professional historian and founding partner of HistoryWorks, a Wellington consultancy specialising ...

Vincent O'Malley is a professional historian and founding partner of HistoryWorks, a Wellington consultancy specialising in the Treaty of Waitangi research.

"It's incredibly challenging because it is a big book in many ways and a huge number of sources to cover."

O'Malley said after having done the research for the tribunal he realised  he had learnt some pretty remarkable things about the Waikato War.

He said a lot of the research done for the tribunal process isn't seen by many other people. 

"One of the things I'm really keen on doing is trying to make that research available to a wider audience."

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O'Malley said when he started researching he assumed the story had been told many times before, but the last book-length overview on the Waikato War was published in 1879.

Since then it has been covered in a few chapters in books.

O'Malley said it is time for the wider population to engage with this history.

"They don't have to become experts on it but take the time to learn some of the key facts and learn about the history that is all around them.

"For too long now Tainui and other New Zealand iwi caught up in New Zealand wars have carried that history alone and it's been kind of ignored or shunned by Pākehā."

Throughout the country there are places of huge significance tied up with the 19th-century wars.

"We need to have a conversation as a nation about the need to acknowledge and recognise these wars."

O'Malley said in a way his book is providing external validation for the stories that Tainui has carried over many generations. 

"It is time as a nation that we remember. Me maumahara tātou – we must remember." 

Waikato-Tainui Te Arataura chairman Rahui Papa said the book reflects some of the hardest times Waikato-Tainui has experienced. 

Papa said it brings all those dark pieces of history into a world of light.

"We have a goal to utilise the pages of this book in our school curriculum so that every child can experience the history that is truly our New Zealand history. The truth is finally going to be let loose."

 - Stuff

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