Born in 1943 to a father of German descent and Ngāi Tahu mother, he knew very little about his background and whakapapa.
Good thing his daughter, Dr Angela Wanhalla, should develop a keen interest in history, particularly the story of colonial New Zealand and the communities that evolved.
As part of her doctoral thesis at Canterbury University in 2004, Angela researched the story of her ancestors and the mixed-descent community at Maitapapa, Taieri, where great-grandparents John Brown and Mabel Smith were born.
“I chose my family because I didn’t know much about it and I wanted to learn about the people and places I had connections to.”
It also meant she could share this knowledge with Stan before his death in 2005.
“Seeing my father enjoying himself, learning about the family: how they came to Taieri, where his grandparents were born – his whole mindset changed – it was a revelation.”
Now there is little evidence of the settlement but it was once a thriving reserve in the south from which many significant southern Ngāi Tahu families descend: the family names include Palmer; Sherburd; Goomes from Rakiura; Haberfield; Watson and Howell from Ōraka Aparima.
With a doctorate under her belt, Angela completed a post-doctorate fellowship in Canada and it was there she was encouraged to further develop the story.
She returned to New Zealand in 2005 and took a job at Otago University’s history department. During the following four years, she extended her research and in 2008 was the recipient of the Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal.
The result of her research is her book In/ visible Sight. Published by Bridget Williams Books in December last year, it examines the early history of cross-cultural encounter and colonisation in southern New Zealand.
“The most exciting part was meeting and talking to people and hearing their stories,” Angela says.
In the book, she explores the relationships Ngāi Tahu forged with European settlers during the 19th Century. “Many of our men were killed during tribal wars. Lots of white men were brought into the tribe and married.”
The book is illustrated with photographs of the people and places that feature in the book, many of them supplied by Dave Brown of Christchurch.
She also reveals how, as part of an economically mobile tribe that had lost much of its land, her family was forced to move away from Ngāti Moki Marae at Taumutu and settle in faraway places to eke out a living.
“There is a large land mass but small Ngāi Tahu population. As people moved and resettled, the kinship connections were maintained but for some the tribal and cultural connections were lost.”
This led to an evolving society in which inter-racial intimacy played a formative role: for Ngāi Tahu coming to grips with colonial rule; for the European settlers a new life in a different country. Despite the odds, it worked and mixed-descent communities became the norm.
“They were very resilient.”
And just like her father, Stan, Angela’s personal discovery from writing the book has led her to become more connected to Ngāi Tahu. She’s even taken on the new challenge of learning te reo Māori.
Currently Angela has another book project on the go, this time for Auckland University Press. She is researching the trends, patterns and history of inter-racial marriage in New Zealand 1769–1969. This project has been funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand/Marsden Grant.
TE KARAKA has five In/visible Sight (RRP $39.99) books to give-away. Simply list the names of the Taieri families mentioned in this article. Send your answers TE KARAKA, PO BOX 13 046 Christchurch, or email tekaraka@ngaitahu. iwi.nz.
It is often said that most Ngāi Tahu whānau have a whaler in their whakapapa.
We epitomise what academia refer to as “mixed-descent families”. Atholl Anderson first wrote about this in 1991 and subsequently noted that by 1864, 68 per cent of Foveaux Strait Ngāi Tahu were of mixed descent.
Angela Wanhalla’s whakapapa takes her back to Maitapapa (Henley), where in the 1890s, 90 per cent of the 170 inhabitants were of mixed descent. This book is based on her doctorate dissertation on the inter-racial marriages of the whānau of Maitapapa for the century after 1830. It raises a number of issues such as the fact that by the 1930s, the community of Maitapapa was virtually disestablished. The high level of intermarriage may well be the reason why this situation eventuated.
In addition to these whānau histories, Wanhalla’s experience in Canada and the long list of references indicates an awareness of this general topic in a variety of other indigenous cultures. Another question she addresses is why, despite the mixed backgrounds of these families, they chose not to become a new distinctive ethnic group such as a New Zealand version of the Métis. Although many moved into the white community, most identified long-term with Ngāi Tahu.
As Barack Obama observed: “If I’m … trying to catch a cab, they’re not saying, ‘Oh, there’s a mixed-race guy’.” [The Dream Begins: How Hawai’i Shaped Barack Obama 2009:79]
Donald Couch is Pro-Chancellor of Lincoln University.
Over and above the standard litany of Ngāi Tahu challenges with the Crown, colonisation, land dispossession, poverty, dependency and so on; colonial and then state policies of assimilation and integration impacted greatest on these families, which led to their invisibility. The most effective strategy for individual survival and possible economic and social achievement meant accepting these policies, which eroded Ngāi Tahu identity and culture.
Wanhalla has taken on the tough task of converting her PhD dissertation for the commercial book market. Much of the academic language or jargon and style are still there. Other Ngāi Tahu academics such as Atholl Anderson and Te Maire Tau have successfully made that transition, but they have had lots of practise. A follow-up of these Maitapapa families over the past decade would be valuable.
Remember the one about the out-of-towner on 57th Street, who asks a New Yorker how to get to Carnegie Hall. “Practise, practise” was the reply.
Papa’s Jandals is Kate Moetaua’s second children’s book set within a Polynesian community/whānau living in Aotearoa. Moetaua began writing when she couldn’t find any story books that depicted her daughters’ Rarotongan heritage.
Papa’s Jandals tells the tale of Junior, an artful dodger who gets away with mischief by turning on his charming smile. That strategy works very well for him until he misplaces his papa’s big, red jandals and no one will help him find them. So begins Junior’s quest to locate the missing jandals and our introduction to his whānau and neighbours.
Fern Whitau hails from Moeraki and is a taua who loves to read to her mokopuna.
Told from Junior’s long-suffering sister’s point of view, the story is accompanied by Bruce Potter’s illustrations, which capture the people and place perfectly.
Children will enjoy this fun story. They will worry with Junior when he realises the jandals are missing and share his joy when they are found again. My moko and I had fun reading this story, looking at the illustrations and seeing how hints of Rarotonga are revealed in the food; tea and cabin bread, buckets of sugar and even donuts.
Funk/soul group Quincy Conserve was formed in 1967 as the resident band for the ‘Downtown Club’ in Wellington. Spearheaded by front-man Malcolm Hayman with musicians raised in the show-band era, the band included drummer Bruno Lawrence (who would go on to form Blerta) and the fantastic Dave Orams on bass guitar. They were soon signed with EMI, becoming the label’s in-house musicians and recording three albums of their own. In 1973 breweries began to realise the pulling power of live music in their taverns, drafting groups to record and tour the country. In 1974, Quincy Conserve signed to Lion Breweries, producing a fourth and final album. The group wrote some of the finest soul/funk songs to emerge from Aotearoa in the 70s, with hits such as ‘Aire of good feeling’ and ‘Ride the rain’. They achieved three albums, and navigated the transition from an era of resident club bands towards the current mode of group self-governance.
Joseph Tipa (Ngāi Tahu ki Moeraki, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Maniapoto) is a musician, singer, and songwriter. He is based in Wellington.
Listen to the band HMV recordings 1970
Epitaph HMV recordings 1971
Tasteful HMV recordings 1973
7” EP – Extra Tasteful EMI recordings 1973
The Quincy Conserve Ode recordings 1975
The Very Best of Quincy Conserve EMI recordings 2001
Opinions expressed in REVIEWS are those of the writers and are not necessarily endorsed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.