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SEMINAR | Māori and the Tasman World in the Long Nineteenth Century: A View from The Bluff


Dr Michael Stevens, University of Otago

Start Date

4th Oct 2017 4:00pm

End Date

4th Oct 2017 5:00pm


Room 548 Humanities Building, Sandy Bay Campus

RSVP / Contact Information

ALL WELCOME. For enquiries, please contact Assoc Prof Penny Edmonds or Dr Kristyn Harman

Stevens 17About the Seminar

The establishment of the New South Wales penal colony triggered sustained British contact with the New Zealand archipelago. This was concentrated in the north of the North Island and the south of South Island. Consequently, Māori kin-groups in each region—predominantly Ngāpuhi in the north and Kāi Tahu in the south—faced the challenges and opportunities of imperial Britain much earlier than other Māori groups.

Ngāpuhi connections with Poihakena (Port Jackson) are well-known to historians of early nineteenth century New Zealand and Australia. Kāi Tahu connections, on the other hand, are rarely commented on. In addition, comparatively little is known about Māori associations with the Australian continent between the 1860s and the 1960s. This seminar is something of a corrective.

Focusing on Kāi Tahu, especially families and individuals based at or near Bluff (a deep-water port on the South Island’s south coast) this seminar argues that Māori historical experience in the Tasman World needs to be understood in maritime terms and against a wider tradition of Māori mobility. Bluff was pulled in to the expanding New South Wales frontier from at least the 1810s while colonial shipping networks from the 1850s firmly connected it to Hobart and Melbourne until the 1930s. By such means, waves of people entered Kāi Tahu communities—and genealogies—throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Several Kāi Tahu people visited or permanently relocated to Australia over this time. This seminar sheds light on these trajectories of movement and reflects on their enduring consequences for Kāi Tahu.

About the Presenter

Dr Michael Stevens is a Senior Lecturer in Māori History in the Department of History and Art History at the University of Otago. Of Kāi Tahu descent, his hometown is the basis of his current research project, ‘A World History of Bluff.’ His PhD explored his and his family’s participation in the region’s seasonal tītī (muttonbird) harvest, which is exclusively undertaken by Kāi Tahu on three dozen islands south of mainland New Zealand.

When | Wednesday 4 October from 4 pm

Where| Room 548  Humanities Building, Sandy Bay Campus

ALL WELCOME: For enquiries about the History seminar series please contact Assoc.Prof. Penny Edmonds or Dr. Kristyn Harman on