HistoryWorks Research Director Dr Vincent O’Malley became the first ever PhD graduate in New Zealand Studies when he received his degree at Victoria University’s Te Herenga Waka marae in December 2004.
Vincent, who undertook his studies through the Treaty of Waitangi Research Unit (TOWRU), wrote his thesis on nineteenth-century runanga and komiti, building on his 1998 book, Agents of Autonomy (Huia Publishers).
In his thesis, Dr O’Malley argues that while Māori struggled to gain Crown recognition of their institutions of self-government, and to participate fully in colonial society through them, they were continually frustrated by the assimilationist agenda behind all Crown policy towards Māori at this time.
‘Nineteenth-century runanga and komiti’, Dr O’Malley argues, ‘were a remarkable and sophisticated response to colonisation. They could not prevent the substantial loss of Māori lands, but they did play a critical role in the survival of Māori as a distinct people.’
TOWRU Director, Associate Professor Richard Hill, who attended the marae ceremony, describes the completion of Vincent’s thesis as a significant milestone in the unit’s six-year history. ‘We are proud for Vincent and his achievements, but it’s also a big moment for us, and hopefully the first of many completed doctoral theses through TOWRU’, says Associate Professor Hill. [Added 17 March 2005]