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Pakeha History Essay

1125 words - 5 pages

Various groups of Pākehā came to this country between 1800 and 1840, and for differing reasons. These groups included explorers (although they were pre-19th century), sealers, whalers, traders, and missionaries. All of these groups had varying purposes and therefore varying effects on the local Māori population. Explorers charted the country and announced its existence; sealers harvested seals without much effect on local Māori; whalers hunted whales while creating ‘the hell-hole of the Pacific’; and missionaries, who arrived with the intent of changing Māori, had the biggest impact of all.

The earliest Europeans to visit New Zealand were the explorers. Abel Tasman, who arrived in 1642, was the first, and James Cook followed him in 1769. Although neither of these voyages occurred in the period 1800 – 1840, Cook’s informative journals were the catalyst for future journeys to New Zealand, as they described in detail the abundance of plant and animal life found here. Because explorers simply arrived, mapped, and left, their main impact on Māori was secondary, in that many other Pākehā arrived in New Zealand because of information from Cook’s journals.

The first group of Europeans to be ‘summoned’ by Cook’s journal were the sealers. Sealers came from America, Australia and Britain to obtain seal pelts to trade for Chinese Tea. This was the first step that connected New Zealand into the world economy. Sealers had very little impact on Māori because of their location: seals congregated near the bottom of the South Island, where barely any Māori lived. Sealers lived very harsh lives because they were dropped off and then left to fend for themselves for several years. The sealing trade was at its peak between 1803 and 1810, as major exploration was conducted around Foveaux Strait. The trade died off as the seals were not taken with respect to the environment, and their numbers became very small. At the same time, seal fur top hats became unfashionable, and so the trade dried up. Interaction between the sealers and Māori would set the tone of future interactions between Māori and other Pākehā: mutuality and dependence.

Like the sealers, whalers came to New Zealand because of information from Cook’s journals. There were two different types of whalers: shore and deep-sea. Deep-sea whalers were transitory, and followed whales that had come down from Fiji to the Bay of Islands. They founded Kororareka, New Zealand’s first capital, and introduced prostitution, alcohol, disease, and lawlessness. The lawlessness that these whalers created, however, would lead to the appointment of James Busby as the British Resident and the eventual signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The shore whalers settled near present-day Kaikoura, and were semi-permanent, forming communities. They interacted with Māori as they needed help to harpoon, catch, and process the whales. Māori gained several benefits from this: they obtained access to new tools and technologies, hapū with...

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