Story: History and historians

Drawings from The New Zealand wars by James Cowan

Drawings from The New Zealand wars by James Cowan

These sketches of Kawiti’s pā at Ruapekapeka were included in the first volume of James Cowan’s official history of the New Zealand wars (1922). They evoke Cowan’s admiration for Māori skill in fortifying their defences. Cowan saw his work as contributing to a frontier mythology for New Zealand that might bear comparison with stories of the American West. He also believed that through warfare Māori and Pākehā gained a respect for each other’s military prowess that strengthened New Zealand race relations in the long run. Cowan was a journalist and an ardent cultural nationalist. While later professional historians criticised his views as romantic, more recent writers on the New Zealand wars have taken his judgements about Māori military strategy seriously.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: James Cowan, The New Zealand wars, v 1. Wellington: Government Printer, 1955, pp. 76–78

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'History and historians - The first half of the 20th century – amateur history', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/43540/drawings-from-the-new-zealand-wars-by-james-cowan (accessed 25 September 2020)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014