James Belich responds to 'Tangata Whenua'

'It’s a new development – it really has no rivals. It’s a first. It tells the whole story of Māori history, using the latest scholarship, but speaking to a wide audience.

It provides a completeness that we haven’t hitherto had in the scholarship on Māori history. And I think that’s a tribute to the publisher Bridget Williams, but also to the team of authors, who really are an exceptionally talented group. Aroha Harris is a leading young Māori historian. Judith Binney, of course, was a great scholar, and was a close friend of mine while she was alive. And Atholl Anderson is just a marvellous pre-historian, of global reputation. So it’s an outstanding team, and they’ve succeeded in making the book more than the sum of its parts.

It fills an obligation to more communal connectedness, which is a characteristic of Māori history in that it’s got to connect people in the present to people in the past.

It’s quite an event – I wish the book well, and I think it will do well. And I think it’s important for all New Zealanders, not just Māori.'

These comments are taken from the Wellington celebration video.