Post-Colonialism and the Reinterpretation of New Zealand’s Colonial Narrative: Heke’s War

Andrew K. S. Piper


Post-colonialism has provided a useful mindset by which contemporary historians can challenge previously held notions of national history, or see better how the national narrative can be considered from a perspective other than that of a grand imperial story of nation building. This paper reveals how post-colonialism enriches, and can often provide, a more accurate, balanced and nuanced comprehension of the accepted version of past events. It specifically demonstrates how post-colonialism has also opened a window whereby the MÄori’s own story of the New Zealand Wars challenges the imperial version. The imperial vision, one which glorified and exaggerated British military prowess, had downplayed MÄori strategic thinking and falsified the historic record. This is evident in the way in which the first of the New Zealand Wars, Heke’s War or the Northern War of 1845-46, has usually been interpreted. In this case, and generally, post-colonialism can create a new collective understanding of the past, one that contributes to improving the race relations between different peoples and the lands they inhabit.


Post-Colonialism; New Zealand Wars; Māori; Ngāpuhi; Hōne Heke;

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