Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History

Book Author Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris
Rights Available World Excl NZ

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History charts the sweep of Māori history from ancient origins through to the twenty-first century. Through narrative and images, it offers a striking overview of the past, grounded in specific localities and histories.

The story 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 stunning chapters bring together scholarship in history, archaeology, traditional narratives and oral sources. A parallel commentary is offered through more than 500 images, ranging from the elegant shapes of 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. 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.

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

About the Author
Atholl Anderson CNZM, FRSNZ, FAHA, FSA (Ngāi Tahu) has the experience of many years’ research throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. He has directed numerous archaeological excavations, published prolifically, and been the recipient of many awards and distinctions. Working with tradition, he has made a significant contribution to tribal history in southern New Zealand, with books such as The Welcome of Strangers (1998) and Ngāi Tahu: A Migration History, edited with Te Maire Tau (2008). He is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University, Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Canterbury and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Otago. Judith Binney, DCNZM, FRSNZ, FNZAH, was born in Australia in 1940 and educated at Auckland University, where she became Emeritus Professor of History. She was the author of numerous books of New Zealand history, many with a focus on Māori individuals and communities. She died at her home in Auckland in 2011.

Judith Binney was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1998. She was awarded a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to historical research in New Zealand in 1997, and made a Distinguished Companion in 2006. She received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement the same year. She was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of the Humanities in 2007.

Aroha Harris (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal and a Lecturer in History at the University of Auckland. Her PhD reflects her interest in Māori histories of the twentieth century. Aroha Harris also has a background in both historical and social research for various government agencies and iwi. Her writing has appeared in a number of articles, and in anthologies of short fiction and poetry. The author of a book on political protest in the late twentieth century, Hīkoi (2004), she worked alongside others to establish Te Pouhere Kōrero, the national collective of Māori historians and researchers.


Bridget Williams Books


290 x 245mm


Non Fiction


Age range
Young Adult & Upwards

Publication Date
November 2014

Rights Available:
World (ex NZ)

Rights Agents:


Tom Rennie, Bridget Williams Books

Contact Bridget Williams Books about this book

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This is a visionary project – to see this outstanding team produce something even more than the sum of its parts will be quite a moment. Visually stunning, Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History will inform public debate for years to come.

James Belich

Atholl Anderson and Judith Binney are the most senior scholars in their respective professions of archaeology and Māori history; their wisdom will help to make this a worthy book to inform future generations. Aroha Harris represents the rising generation of Māori scholars who see the world with new eyes.

Ranginui Walker

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History is as much about continuity as it is about the past. It is the story of a living people – its time has well and truly come.

Hon Justice Joe Williams

Tangata Whenua lays a new foundation for enlarging cross-cultural understanding for Māori and Pākehā alike, and contributes significantly to the survival of Māori culture and tradition.

Sir Taihākurei Durie

This beautifully published book has broad public appeal and will be read widely by New Zealanders keen to discover who we are and where we come from.

Judges of the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize