A newly-available resource for historians of early New Zealand: The Marist Missionary Letters (1838-54)
Jenning, W. (2011). A newly-available resource for historians of early New Zealand: The Marist Missionary Letters (1838-54). The New Zealand Journal of Public History, 1(1), pp. 60-71.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/7016
The 7000 pages of primary documents of the Lettres reçues d’Océanie constitute a vast new source for the study of the Pacific during the period 1838-54. Published in 2009 after sixteen years of transcription, the Lettres are the collected correspondence of the first French Marist missionaries to New Zealand and other Pacific islands. In the words of Pacific historian Hugh Laracy, they are ‘the single most important foundational contribution to Pacific history in its fullest extent since J. C. Beaglehole’s magisterial editions of James Cook’s Journals. About 2000 of those pages are transcripts of letters written in New Zealand that open up a fresh perspective of life before the wars of the 1860’s. This paper will locate the early French Marist Māori mission within the context of New Zealand public history before exploring how the Lettres reçues d’Océanie can complement existing views of early colonial New Zealand. To better contextualise the correspondence, it would be useful to begin with a brief background of the Marists’ presence in New Zealand.
University of Waikato
This article has been published in the journal: The New Zealand Journal Of Public History . Used with permission.