One Hundred Havens reviewed in the New Zealand Journal of History


Peter Meihana reviews One Hundred Havens: The Settlement of the Marlborough Sounds by Helen Beaglehole:

'AS A CHILD, I often visited aunties and uncles, and was always fascinated with the photographs that covered the walls of whānau sitting rooms. At a young age I did not know their names but recognized that certain photographs hung in many family homes. One such photograph was of Kipa Hemi Whiro and Haromi Kiharoa. Kipa was a rangatira of Ngāti Kuia and Rangitāne who was renowned for his ability to communicate with Kaikaiāwaro, the kaitiaki of Ngāti Kuia who took the form of a white dolphin. Haromi was Ngāti Koata, and as a child she and her whānau migrated to Kāpiti Island with their Ngāti Toa kin. Not long after this, Ngāti Koata moved to Te Tauihu as part of the tuku of Tutepourangi. Haromi’s son, Tiemi Walker, married Kipa’s younger sister Ina, and begat my great-grandfather, Wiremu Walker. The photograph of Kipa and Haromi was first published in James Cowan’s 1912 book The Story of Pelorus Jack: The White Dolphin of French Pass, New Zealand: With Māori Legends. Most recently, it has appeared in One Hundred Havens: The Settlement of the Marlborough Sounds.

One Hundred Havens, though, is not a Māori history. What the reader does get is a good account of Pākehā settlement and missionaries, as well as economic activity and its impact on the Marlborough Sounds’ environment. The book also provides some interesting insights into the lives of Sounds’ people and the issues they face today. It will certainly be of interest to the general reader.

However, Māori sit uneasily in this history. At the outset, it is acknowledged that the author has had little contact with Sounds’ Māori. But to omit their history would, apparently, invalidate her own account. To get around this problem, the work of Hilary and John Mitchell, and of the Waitangi Tribunal, are drawn on extensively. The ‘myths’ and ‘legends’ of the Marlborough Sounds are traversed before we hear about the arrival of first peoples and the waves of migrations that swept over Te Tauihu. The Musket Wars appear as the fulcrum in pre-1840 Te Tauihu, as they ‘ushered in a new power balance’ (p.44). The wars certainly impacted tangata whenua. Tā Tipene O’Regan is quoted as saying the ‘memory bank of traditional history’ had been ‘savagely reduced’ (p.44). It should also be remembered that Tā Tipene noted the work of E.W. Pakauwera, a survivor of the Musket Wars who dictated several karakia and waiata to S. Percy Smith. One such song was a waiata tangi composed by the Kurahaupō people of Queen Charlotte Sound in memory of Tupaia, the Tahitian navigator who accompanied James Cook on his first expedition to Aotearoa.

For the remainder of the book, the Māori experience is discussed sporadically in the context of colonization and dispossession. Notwithstanding the late Richard Bradley’s contribution, it is a shame that there was no discussion with tangata whenua, as there are a few inaccuracies and nuances that might thereby have been addressed.'