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New Myths and Old Politics: The Waitangi Tribunal and the Challenge of Tradition—Tipene O’Regan (2014)

This book by Sir Tipene O’Regan begins the countdown of the final 20 of our 150 Te Takarangi publications. Sir Tipene O’Regan’s work draws on his Beaglehole Memorial Lecture of 1991, outlining challenges to Ngāi Tahu’s manawhenua during the settlement of the Ngāi Tahu claim.

Publication details

O’Regan, T. New Myths and Old Politics: The Waitangi Tribunal and the Challenge of Tradition. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2014.

About the book

Negotiating a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal can involve troubling challenges to an iwi’s legitimacy, sometimes from unexpected places. In this unique behind-the-scenes account of the negotiation of the Ngāi Tahu’s Waitangi Tribunal claim, Sir Tipene O’Regan describes what happened when claims of New Age mysticism attempted to undermine traditional whakapapa and academic scholarship. 

As Sir Tipene notes, the lecture was ‘delivered at a time when hearings of the Tribunal were becoming a battleground of the most fundamental cultural conflicts, not restricted to those between Māori and Pākehā. Māoridom itself was experiencing a remarkable efflorescence of freshly reconstructed group identities and New Age-style incorporations into Māori ethnic identity.’

This important book, available in hard copy and as a digital e-book, comprises six chapters and an afterword. The short book sets the scene for when in 1991, the skillful claims negotiator enunciated his iwi’s manawhenua at a New Zealand History conference. O’Regan’s very thoughtful and well-reasoned ruminations on the Treaty claims process in New Zealand is a timely and relevant read for all New Zealanders.

Further information 


This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.