Dr Edward Shortland and the politics of ethnography
Lousberg, Marjan Marie
Abstract:In 1840 Captain William Hobson established the colony of New Zealand under an umbrella of humanitarianism and with an agenda for the protection of Maori rights. This thesis examines this project through the work of Dr Edward Shortland (1812-1893). Although Shortland's reports and publications have been frequently cited, there has been no detailed historical analysis of his work.Shortland arrived in New Zealand in 1841 as the private secretary of Governor Hobson. In 1842 he was appointed Protector of Aborigines for the Eastern Districts. One of his tasks was to study Maori language and customs in order to mediate between Maori and government. He was one of the earliest European experts on Maori traditions, customary practices, religious attitudes and relationships with land. After his return to England in 1846, he lobbied the British government on behalf of Maori and published two books on New Zealand, in which he addressed prospective colonists and disputed some of the propaganda of colonising companies. Shortland came back to New Zealand in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s, during which periods he worked as Civil Commissioner in the Hauraki area, as Native Secretary, and as adviser to the government on Native affairs.Shortland was part of a network of concerned Christian humanitarians who were intent on bringing government and law and order to New Zealand in a manner that facilitated peaceful European settlement, without serious injury to the Maori population. Humanitarians were not opposed to colonisation or settlement and in this respect may be seen as part of the imperial enterprise. In the framework of political and philosophical thought in the nineteenth century, humanitarians expected no more than to mitigate the effects of colonisation. This study explores these issues in the context of Shortland's interaction with and ethnography about Maori over a period of forty years.I begin by placing the concept of aboriginal protection in context. The core of this thesis is an examination of Shortland's work as Protector of Aborigines. He had three tasks: to mediate in disputes between Europeans and Maori; to accustom Maori to English law; and to protect Maori land rights against claims from settlers. The first of these tasks proved the most straightforward. Shortland's attempts to fulfil the second task highlighted the complex relationship between religion and law and the role of Christianity. The land question proved the most complicated, as a result of the tension between government attempts to protect Maori land rights, the pressure from settlers for land, and European lack of understanding of Maori customs. Maori desire to sell land to attract settlers further complicated relationships. Shortland's contribution to our understanding of these issues and of Maori traditions of land tenure is considerable. While the course of colonisation may have been inevitable, I suggest that Shortland and likeminded contemporaries laid the foundation for later recognition of Maori rights, as exemplified today by the work of the Waitangi Tribunal.
Advisor: Brooking, Tom; Stenhouse, John
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
xi, 321 leaves :col. port., map ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: History.