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Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History—Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Aroha Harris (2014)

'Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History' charts the sweep of Māori history from ancient origins through to the twenty-first century. The many threads of history are entwined in this compelling narrative of the people and the land, the story of a rich past that illuminates the present and will inform the future.

Publication details

Anderson, A., J. Binney and A. Harris. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2014.

About the book

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History begins with the migration of ancestral peoples out of South China, some 5,000 years ago. Moving through the Pacific, these early voyagers arrived in Aotearoa early in the second millennium AD, establishing themselves as tangata whenua in the place that would become New Zealand. By the nineteenth century, another wave of settlers brought new technology, ideas and trading opportunities – and a struggle for control of the land. Survival and resilience shape the history as it extends into the twentieth century, through two world wars, the growth of an urban culture, rising protest, and Treaty settlements. Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Māori are drawing on both international connections and their ancestral place in Aotearoa.

Fifteen chapters bring together scholarship in history, archaeology, traditional narratives and oral sources. A parallel commentary is offered through more than 500 images, ranging from ancient taonga and artefacts to impressions of Māori in the sketchbooks and paintings of early European observers, through the shifting focus of the photographer’s lens to the response of contemporary Māori artists to all that has gone before. Through narrative and images, it offers a striking overview of the past, grounded in specific localities and histories.

Edited by Archaeologist and historian Athol Anderson (Ngāi Tahu), the late historian Dame Judith Binney and historian Aroha Harris (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi), the volume also incorporates work by a range of scholarly co-authors, namely Ngarino Ellis, Morris Te Whiti Love, Vincent O’Malley, Alan Ward, Arini Loader, Robyn Anderson, Michael Stevens, Melissa Matutina Williams and Margaret Kawharu. Tangata Whenua also draws on the work of many other scholars too numerous to record individually here. However, all of the scholars who contributed to this book, the majority of whom are Māori, represent a combination of senior scholars working at the peak of their professions and the rising voice of Māori scholars. As Atholl Anderson, Aroha Harris and Bridget Williams claim in their introduction, the volume will ‘sit comfortably in the long line of books on Māori’.


  • Winner of the illustrated non-fiction category award in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
  • Winner of the Copyright Licensing New Zealand Best Resource in Secondary Award
  • Winner of the Te Kōrero o Mua (History) Award at the 2015 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards.
  • Winner of the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize
  • Gold winner at the Pride in Print Awards 2015

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.