Vincent O’Malley is a Wellington writer and historian who has authored many bestselling works on Aotearoa history, including The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 (BWB, 2016) and The New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa (BWB, 2019). In 2022 his book Voices from the New Zealand Wars/He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa won the general non-fiction prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. In the same year he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-Fiction. He is a founding partner of HistoryWorks, a group of historians specialising in Tiriti o Waitangi-related research. With Professor Joanna Kidman, he is co-Principal Investigator on the Marsden Fund project ‘He Taonga te Wareware? Remembering and Forgetting Difficult Histories in Aotearoa/New Zealand’, a multi-year study into how the nineteenth century New Zealand Wars have helped shape memory, identity and history.
Aotearoa New Zealand Histories: Diving into a Contested Past
The introduction of the new Aotearoa Histories Curriculum in all schools from 2023 marked a potentially transformative milestone. It offers the tantalising possibility that future generations might become more historically aware, engaged and grounded than their parents and grandparents, who often either learned nothing of their own country’s past during their own school years or in many cases were provided with a rose-tinted version of it. Alongside this, the establishment of Te Pūtake o te Riri—an annual commemoration day for the New Zealand Wars—and the growing debate at a local level surrounding place and street names, monuments, memorials, and other contested historical markers, also reflect a heightened emphasis on Aotearoa history in recent times—along with a backlash from some unhappy with these developments.In this session we explore the challenges and opportunities arising from this increased engagement with Aotearoa history.