Several members of the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture attended the biennial Pacific History Association Conference recently. Hosted by Victoria University of Wellington from 6-8 December, the conference drew together historians from across the Pacific.
Faculty and post-graduates from the University of Otago were there in large numbers, including two Centre members Lachy Paterson and Megan Ellison of Te Tumu: the School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, who presented papers on the benefits and difficulties of utilizing indigenous-language texts within the practice of writing history. Megan focused specifically on Kāi Tahu writings and manuscripts, while Lachy presented a paper based on his current project, an anthology of Māori women’s writings from the 19th century.
Jacqui Leckie (Anthropology), Alumita Durutalo (USP), Louise Mataia (NUS) and Rosey Anderson (Otago), along with two Centre members, Angela Wanhalla and Judy Bennett, reported results from their collaborative Marsden funded research project tracing the fate of children born to indigenous mothers and American servicemen in the South Pacific during World War II.
Rosey Anderson’s paper based on her MA thesis research was a particular highlight. Her MA explores the history of a New Zealand Government scheme to bring Cook Island women to the country as domestic servants, while also tracing the impact of that migration on the women and their families.
The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture is based in the History and Art History Department at the University of Otago. This department has a proud record of producing excellent post-graduate research on colonial history and culture, and it was heartening to see this tradition continued at the Pacific History Association Conference this year.
Several former students gave well-received papers on their current research: Kate Stevens, who completed her BA (Hons) in History and Anthropology at Otago in 2008 and is now undertaking a PhD at Cambridge, gave a paper on British and French colonial legal regimes in the Pacific, focusing specifically on Vanuatu; Antje Lubcke (MA, Otago), gave an illuminating and excellent paper on photography in late 19th century Papua, which is the subject of her PhD at ANU; and Dr. Jonathan West, now working at the Waitangi Tribunal, presented new research on the effects of the earliest epidemic disease, known as rewharewha, upon Māori communities. The Centre has heard great things about the presentations of Otago’s current post-graduate students too and congratulates Rosey Anderson (Cook Island domestic servants), David Haines (shore-whaling on Banks Peninsula), and John McLane (Influenza Pandemic in the Pacific).
We also wish to congratulate Professor Judy Bennett whose new book, An Otago Storeman in Solomon Islands: The Diary of William Crossan, Copra Trader, 1885-86, was launched by Doug Munro at the Pacific History Association Conference. It is co-edited by Tim Bayliss-Smith (University of Cambridge), and was published by ANU-E Press. Congratulations Judy and Tim!