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Voyages and Beaches

Voyages and Beaches: Pacific Encounters, 1769-1840

Alex Calder
Jonathan Lamb
Bridget Orr
Copyright Date: 1999
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    Voyages and Beaches
    Book Description:

    What actually happened as Europeans and peoples of the Pacific discovered each other? How have their respective senses of the past influenced their understanding of the present? And what are the consequences of their meeting? In this collection of essays, scholars from European, Polynesian, and Settler backgrounds provide answers to these questions. Writing from, and between, a variety of disciplines (history, anthropology, Maori Studies, literary criticism, law, cultural studies, art history, Pacific Studies), they show how the Pacific reveals a more various and contradictory history than that supposed by such homogenizing metropolitan myths as the introduction of civilization to savage peoples, the general ruin of indigenous cultures by an imperial juggernaut, or the mimicry of European models by an abject population. They examine contact from both sides of beaches throughout Polynesia, exposing the many inconsistencies from which Pacific history is made. Some of the essays consider the extent to which traditional European ideas about organizing and legitimizing claims to territory and power were invoked and problematized in the South Pacific; some consider the violence endemic in such scenes; others examine the aesthetic discourses with which early travelers and settlers attempted to make sense of the Pacific in the aftermath of "discovery." But rather than reiterate the myths and anti-myths of conquest, these essays show how local differences have made and do make a difference. They emphasize the Pacific's capacity to absorb and transform the impact of Europe, an impact that has been as notable for its ambivalence and confusion as for its single-minded pursuit of hegemony. The editors develop these themes in a wide-ranging introduction that relates Pacific concerns to a more global set of theoretical and methodological problems, including current work in post-colonial and subaltern studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6551-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. 1 Introduction: Postcoloniality and the Pacific
    (pp. 1-24)
    Alex Calder, Jonathan Lamb and Bridget Orr

    The essays collected in this volume originated as papers delivered to the ninth David Nichol Smith Memorial Seminar, convened at the University of Auckland in 1993.¹ The organizers of that event hoped its location, squarely in the South Pacific, might provide an opportunity for a more even-handed discussion of contact between Polynesians and Europeans than has been common in accounts and critiques of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century voyages of so-called discovery. It was hoped that the continuity of South Pacific cultures, despite the large scale of European intervention after the eighteenth century, might be manifest not just as the theme but...

  4. 2 Nature and History, Self and Other: European Perceptions of World History in the Age of Encounter
    (pp. 25-44)
    J.G.A. Pocock

    I intend in this essay to give some account of three topics: the perception of history taking shape in the Europe that made the encounters; the diversity of the kinds of encounter Europeans made, among which encounters on beaches at the ends of voyages were deeply important though not the only kind; and the ways in which they tried, or failed, or did not try—all three happened—to integrate the peoples they encountered into the history they made out of their understanding of themselves. It will be a Eurocentric essay in the sense that it is concerned with Eurocentricity,...

  5. 3 South Pacific Mythology
    (pp. 45-54)
    ‘I. F. Helu

    My old teacher John Anderson, of Sydney University, maintained that if there is anything that mythical thought cannot handle it is the inevitability of social change. Arguing that punishment is society’s way of restoring the network of relationships between institutions and the integrity of social boundaries that have been injured by unauthorized behavior, Anderson asserted that it would still be impossible to “maintain boundaries and avoid encroachment,” “that there will always be forces opposed to it, that there will always be social conflict.” He summarizes his position in the following way:

    While primitive thought dimly realises this (as in stories...

  6. 4 The Postmodern Legacy of a Premodern Warrior Goddess in Modern Samoa
    (pp. 55-60)
    Malama Meleisea

    As I understand it, the postmodernist position is one that accepts the notion of multiple “truths,” communities with common understandings communicating within the framework of their assumptions and beliefs about reality. In this sense, the Samoans were postmodernists before they became modern. “Truth” in Samoa is established by the telling of events that cannot be convincingly refuted, even while all the listeners know that other truths exist:

    Samoan traditions were subject to a large amount of local colouring and genealogies were even revised to fit in with the ascendancy or decline of the leading families. . . . The custodian...

  7. 5 Myth and History
    (pp. 61-88)
    ‘Okusitino Māhina

    The formal relationships between myth and history may be examined in relation to the Tongan concepttala-e-fonua,which literally means “telling-of-the-land/people” (fonuameans both land,kelekeleand people,kakai).Tala-e-fonuais a kind of spiritual unity binding land and people together—a vernacular ecology-centered mode of cultural and historical ordering. In considering these distinct but connected human phenomena, the aim in this essay is to observe the complementarity and opposition between myth and history. The connection between myth and history is explored on two levels: first, myth and history are formal expressions of the interplay of human demands within a...

  8. 6 A History Lesson: Captain Cook Finds Himself in the State of Nature
    (pp. 89-99)
    Stephen Turner

    On 10 October 1769, at Poverty Bay, three days after Nicholas Young, the surgeon’s boy, sighted the east coast of New Zealand from theEndeavour,Captain Cook became entangled in a conflict of his own making with the indigenous Maori. Since touching at New Zealand, Cook’s relations with the local Maori had been punctuated by a number of violent episodes. To improve relations with the local people, Cook decided on the expedient of kidnapping some of them in the hope of making his good intentions known. But when his crew attempted to seize a group of seven Maori sailing into...

  9. 7 Myth, Science, and Experience in the British Construction of the Pacific
    (pp. 100-113)
    David Mackay

    In December 1785, James Strange, an East India Company employee from Madras, wrote to the eminent scientist Sir Joseph Banks seeking support for a voyage of discovery to the northwest coast of America. Two vessels were to be employed in the expedition. They were to be equipped to the highest possible standards, with the journals of previous voyages of discovery, navigational instruments, antiscorbutics, and all the paraphernalia regarded asde rigueurfor voyages of discovery at that time. The commander was himself instructed to keep proper logs and journals with accurately recorded observations. The voyages of James Cook were held...

  10. 8 A Tribal Encounter: The Presence and Properties of Common-Law Language in the Discourse of Colonization in the Early Modern Period
    (pp. 114-131)
    P. G. McHugh

    Through 1840, the indigenous Maori chiefs of New Zealand put their mark to a document that became known as the Treaty of Waitangi. This pact, in its Maori version—the one signed by the vast majority of tribal signatories—purported to cede thekawanatangaof the country, reserving the chieflyrangatiratanga.The English version described the chiefs as relinquishing their sovereignty in return for a guarantee of their property rights and the conferral of British subjecthood on Maori. The political history of Maori since then is largely a tale of tribal attempts to vindicate their Treaty rights from a position...

  11. 9 Liberty and License: The Forsters’ Accounts of New Zealand Sociality
    (pp. 132-155)
    Nicholas Thomas

    This essay interprets the responses of two writers on Cook’s second voyage to Maori societies, in the light of anthropological thought at the time. It engages with the detail of texts that may seem remote and arcane, but is motivated by reflection upon the question of how to talk and write, here and now, about histories of discovery and colonialism. In an essay reprinted not long ago, Bernard Smith suggested that it was time for the Cook voyages to be placed in a new perspective. “Amidst the collapse of the European colonial empires, amidst mounting criticism of the cultural consequences...

  12. 10 Early Contact Ethnography and Understanding: An Evaluation of the Cook Expeditionary Accounts of the Grass Cove Conflict
    (pp. 156-179)
    Ian G. Barber

    If anthropology and history have converged in the recent scholarship of cultural encounters in the Pacific, the same cannot be said for the studies, and students, at the heart of the enterprise. The contest of interpretations over the “apotheosis” (or otherwise) linked to Captain James Cook’s violent demise in Hawai‘i is the most prominent recent example of scholarly discord.¹ Debate over the representation of first contact has even accompanied Anne Salmond’s largely documentary and otherwise well-received work on the earliest recorded Maori-European meetings.² Yet whether arguing for or against postmodernist interpretation, or the “place of cultural structures in historic events”³...

  13. 11 My Musket, My Missionary, and My Mana
    (pp. 180-201)
    Pat Hohepa

    I preface this discussion with the remark that it is conceived from my side of the beach. I am Maori, a descendant of those Ngapuhi (my Maori nation) who ownedahikaa, noho tuuturu,andmana whenuarights of the beaches of the northern peninsula of Aotearoa–New Zealand when Europe came to the southern oceans.¹ In current terms, my ancestors were using, living on, and controlling access to the beaches and oceans and lands at the time of contact with Europe. It is my intention to give a personal Ngapuhi view of what was on the Maori side of the...

  14. 12 Enlightenment Anthropology and the Ancestral Remains of Australian Aboriginal People
    (pp. 202-225)
    Paul Turnbull

    Over the past two centuries, numerous fine portraits have come to adorn the walls of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Pride of place, however, has long been given to Sir Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of the Scots-born surgeon John Hunter (see fig. 12.1). Hunter struck his surgical peers as coarse in speech and demeanor, money-hungry, and possibly irreligious. Several generations of medical students found him a diffident man but a careful and demanding teacher, whose diagnostic and surgical skills had gained him the patronage of numerous London patricians. Within two decades of his death, in 1793, John Hunter had...

  15. 13 Missionaries on Tahiti, 1797–1840
    (pp. 226-240)
    Rod Edmond

    The founders of the London Missionary Society (LMS), set up in 1795, had read Cook, spoken with Bligh, and decided that Tahiti was the most promising part of “the heathen world” for a mission.¹ Two years later, eighteen “godly mechanics” landed on Tahiti with an optimistic view of their prospects. However, the early years of the mission were a disaster. The Tahitians were unreceptive, and several missionaries either shipped out or “went native.” It was only after Pomare’s unexpected conversion in 1812, and his victory over his rivals at the battle of Fei Pi in 1815, that the LMS acquired...

  16. 14 Augustus Earle’s The Meeting of the Artist and the Wounded Chief Hongi, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 1827, and His Depictions of Other New Zealand Encounters: Contexts and Connections
    (pp. 241-264)
    Leonard Bell

    In 1993, the Rare Book Room at the Auckland Public Library held an exhibition of late-eighteenth–early-nineteenth-century accounts of European exploration and travel in the South Pacific entitled “Raising a Curtain on a ‘New’ World.” Such representations can be seen as stagings, as the lithograph (fig. 14.1; not in that exhibition) suggests—an image in which Samuel Brees, the principal surveyor and engineer from 1841 to 1844 of the New Zealand Company (which began organized settlement of New Zealand), appears to direct a group of Maori performing ahaka.In fact, this group was a section of hisPanorama of...

  17. 15 Categorical Weavings: European Representations of the Architecture of Hakari
    (pp. 265-284)
    Sarah Treadwell

    Nineteenth-century colonists came to New Zealand and, perching in the unfamiliar landscape, drew the existing architecture that shaped the lives and landscapes of the indigenous inhabitants. In journals, sketchbooks, and diaries the newcomers scratched, in networks of lines, the woven and interwoven architecture of the Maori. Such small, scratchy drawings were suited, in their linear construction, to the lines of timber, the fronds of leaves, and the ropes of flax that constituted the building materials of New Zealand. They also produced vivid watercolors open to the moist air and sea of the island country. Constructed with drawings and writings, the...

  18. 16 Pacific Colonialism and the Formation of Literary Culture
    (pp. 285-303)
    Simon During

    Let me begin this exploratory essay on the relationship between Pacific colonialism and literature a long way from the Pacific, at Lord Pembroke’s Wilton House, a monument of metropolitan taste, money, and power.

    After visiting the estate around 1750, Thomas Warton reflected on the experience in sonnet form:

    From Pembroke’s princely dome, where mimic Art

    Decks with a magic hand the dazzling bow’rs,

    Its living hues where the warm pencil pours,

    And breathing forms from the rude marble start,

    How to life’s humbler scene can I depart!

    My breast all glowing from those gorgeous tow’rs,

    In my low cell how...

  19. 17 The Canon on the Beach: H. T. Kemp Translating Robinson Crusoe and The Pilgrim’s Progress
    (pp. 304-316)
    Mark Houlahan

    Who is Henry Tacy Kemp that we should speak of him? What interest does his life hold for students of Pacific voyages and beaches? I’ll sketch here some answers to these seldom-posed questions. I will focus on Kemp’s biography and demonstrate how his translating meshed with the rest of his life. My essay takes its origin from the typography of exile. New Zealanders who have spent any time overseas will be familiar with the sensation of feeling deprived of any news of home, saving accounts of catastrophes (earthquakes, Rainbow Warriors) here at the edge of the world. One consequence of...

  20. 18 Tuku Whenua and Land Sale in New Zealand in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 317-328)
    Margaret Mutu

    For more than 150 years, the various tribes within Maoridom have been directing the Crown to return their lands (and other resources) to them. The primary authority on which such directions are issued is the Treaty of Waitangi. For a large number of cases, the Crown has been unable to defend the manner in which it acquired various lands and resources. In acknowledging that they were taken in violation of the Treaty, the Crown has agreed that they must be returned.¹ There are, however, many other instances where the tribes have directed that land be returned, and the Crown has,...

  21. Contributors
    (pp. 329-332)
  22. Index
    (pp. 333-344)