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Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Mäori 1855-1863

[for immediate release]

Mid-19th century Mäori-language newspapers full of lively & loaded discussion

New Zealand historians have tended to dismiss nineteenth century Mäori-language newspapers as full of propaganda. In a new book, Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Mäori 1855-1863, historian Lachy Paterson shows that in fact studying these newspapers can illuminate a vital period in our history. In the 1850s, Mäori society was undergoing rapid change, relations between Mäori and Päkehä were worsening, the Kïngitanga was attempting to establish a form of Mäori nationalism, war was raging in Taranaki, and was soon to erupt in Waikato.
The years covered span a period in which one Mäori-language newspaper, the government's Te Karere Maori, was published. Dr Paterson also looks at eight others, including one produced by Mäori, the Kïngitanga's Te Hokioi.

While each newspaper sought to influence the political or social thoughts and behaviour of its readers, Mäori were not passive recipients of Päkehä propaganda. The newspapers offered Mäori a place where their debates and discussions could be read across the country. Mäori letter writers used the newspapers as forums for sharing and airing ideas, opinions and information. The newspapers also provide vital information in the articles they printed.

Dr Paterson discusses Mäori literacy and the difficulties of translating text for Mäori readers. Translators often had to bend the meaning of existing words in order to discuss concepts which had not previously existed in Mäori thought. Despite some newspapers containing bilingual columns, the tone and content of the Mäori texts often differed from the English texts. Dr Paterson has provided new translations of some of these texts, demonstrating the differences in the original English and Mäori versions.

Colonial Discourses is published by Otago University Press.


Lachy Paterson is a graduate of the University of Otago and lecturer in Mäori History at Massey University, Palmerston North. His research interests include nineteenth-century Mäori-Päkehä race relations, Mäori social, religious and political history, and the New Zealand Land Wars.

Publication details

Colonial Discourses: Niupepa Mäori 1855-1863
Lachy Paterson
Release: 1 September 2006. RRP $39.95


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