'Should be read by all New Zealanders'

The following is a media release issued by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Ground-breaking Māori history book has Ministry support

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, lauded as having a deep understanding of Māori history, was last year awarded funding through the annual New Zealand History Research Trust Fund Publisher Grants.

“Speaking as it does to all New Zealanders this just published book is a compelling insight into Māori life from its ancient origins to the 21st century, and as such was a prime candidate for support,” Ripeka Evans, Pou Ārahi Whakahaere, Ministry for Culture and Heritage said.

“The awards are for projects which significantly enhance the understanding of our past and this is where the three authors Atholl Anderson, Aroha Harris and the late Judith Binney, have created a ground-breaking book to address the gap they saw in the country's written history.

“This was a seven-year plus project,” Ripeka Evans said. “A sad milestone was the passing of Tōmairangi – Judith Binney, just as the book reached its final stages.

“Many people have contributed to the book’s publication including Ministry staff who provided historical knowledge and read manuscript drafts. Aroha Harris has been a key figure in the development of the Ministry’s Treaty Settlement Stories project.

“Spanning as it does Māori history from the migration of ancestral peoples out of South China, some 5,000 years ago to their Pacific homes, to the early voyages here in the second millennium AD the three authors have depicted this history, through narrative and images.”

Ripeka Evans said the authors have drawn from a range of perspectives to tell the story of tangata whenua from scholarship in history, archaeology, traditional narratives and oral histories, which are grounded in specific localities throughout New Zealand.

Through this technique the authors have linked the past with the present and written a narrative which serves to inform the future for Māori grounding them as tangata whenua of the land.

“Coupled with the continuing accolades the New Zealand Listener has selected the book as one of the best for 2014.

“The Ministry was delighted to be able to support the publication of Tangata Whenua through its New Zealand History Research Trust Fund. A landmark in New Zealand history publishing, this is an outstanding work of real scholarship, breadth and significance, which should be read by all New Zealanders,” Ripeka Evans said.

This comprehensive, one-volume history of Maori is published by Bridget Williams Books.