‘Us Maoris used to practise slavery just like them poor Negroes had to endure in America . . .’ says Beth Heke in Once Were Warriors. ‘Oh those evil colonials who destroyed Māori culture by ending slavery and cannibalism while increasing the life expectancy,’ wrote one sarcastic blogger.
So was Māori slavery ‘just like’ the experience of Africans in the Americas and were British missionaries or colonial administrators responsible for ending the practice? What was the nature of freedom and unfreedom in Māori society and how did that intersect with the perceptions of British colonists and the anti-slavery movement?
A meticulously researched book, Outcasts of the Gods? looks closely at a huge variety of evidence to answer these questions, analysing bondage and freedom in traditional Māori society; the role of economics and mana in shaping captivity; and how the arrival of colonists and new trade opportunities transformed Māori society and the place of captives within it.
Size: 23 x 16.5 cm