A new resource aims to delve behind the headlines to provide much-needed historical context to topical stories of the day. The Meeting Place — A New Zealand History Blog was created by historian Vincent O’Malley.
Dr O’Malley says that he set up the blog in part out of frustration at the frequent failure of media organisations to fully understand and report the historical background to the stories they carried.
“Take the water claim, for example. It was as if that had emerged out of nowhere, encouraging headlines about opportunistic Maori claims. In fact, as I discuss in one of the early blog posts, Maori made it clear to the government as early as 1863 that they claimed full rights over the Waikato River.”
Amidst much confused reporting as to whether the Waitangi Tribunal can or cannot make binding recommendations, another post goes on to discuss the one and (so far) only time that the Tribunal did order the compulsory return of land to Maori.
“That was the Turangi township claim. The Crown had 90 days before the orders took effect, and opted to return the lands in question during that time. So the binding orders were never finalised.”
In another post, Dr O’Malley describes the remarkable back-story to last year’s re-discovery of the Pink and White Terraces, and the hitherto largely unacknowledged role of Te Arawa as pioneers of the New Zealand tourism industry.
Vincent says that he hopes to encourage other historians to contribute to the blog over time, and to branch out into other activities such as book reviews and notices of forthcoming conferences and other events.