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'The voices caused him to become porangi': Maori Patients in the Auckland Lunatic Asylum, 1860-1900

Histories of the asylum have raised a number of important questions about the way 'race' intersects along colonial, medical and legal boundaries. The experience of Maori patients at the Auckland Lunatic Asylum was a site where colonial attitudes towards 'race' were played out along such lines. By employing 'race' as a category of historical analysis, one can attempt to investigate how the asylum processes in Aotearoa/New Zealand exemplified the question of 'race' in an effort to make more visible the experiences, attitudes and responses of Maori asylum patients. This thesis examines colonial 'madness' by investigating the experiences of Maori patients at the Auckland Lunatic Asylum from 1860-1900. Using patient case records from this period this thesis interrogates the experiences of Maori patients in a colonial asylum, away from their whanau, communities, and tribal networks; what factors contributed to this, and how colonial attitudes towards these patients were acted out. The first chapter therefore, explores the 'medico-legal' management of these Maori patients, followed in Chapter Two by a broad overview of the Maori patients themselves. Chapter Three analyses the case records in more depth illustrating the complex interplay between 'race', gender, 'whiteness' and culture. Chapter Four looks at the way Maori dealt with the insane away from European institutions such as the asylum, emphasising how colonial histories of medicine now paying attention to Indigenous peoples in their context, and to medical pluralism, which reflects European models on one hand and on the other, Maori modes. In considering Maori patients, this thesis reflects on the very 'human experience' that can be revealed by using asylum case files, and what such sources may suggest about 'race' as an implicit part of colonial asylum administration. More widely, the paper also reflects on colonisation, Maori and the asylum, and the ways in which Maori used the asylum.
Type of thesis
Burke, L. J. (2006). ‘The voices caused him to become porangi’: Maori Patients in the Auckland Lunatic Asylum, 1860-1900 (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12621
The University of Waikato
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