'Protest Tautohetohe' the history of protest in New Zealand

By Tema Hemi

It's a written account of a time in New Zealand history where civil and indigenous rights were at the forefront of our country's social and political issues. It captures some of the most iconic moments and people in protest history. ‘Protest Tautohetohe’, the new book that looks at objects of resistance, persistence and defiance over the last 150 years. 

Unravelling the past that led us here to the present.  

Te Papa curator of Mātauranga Māori Matariki Williams says, "The hikoi that have taken place, the 1975 land march, and up until 2004 foreshore and seabed. But we've also looked at the history that date back to the land wars."

The book was written by Te Papa curators Matariki Williams, Puawai Cairns and Stephanie Gibson. The project was also spearheaded by Gibson.

Gibson says, "The significance of this book is that it comes at New Zealand at a totally different way. It materialises it, visualises it, it makes it feel quiet tangible. It also is very surprising and I think it will open people’s minds to our history."

The trio travelled around the country, researching collections and meeting face to face with curators, archivists and activists.

Williams also says, "It’s a great honor to talk with people and have them share these histories with you and then know through books and publications we get to share that with a broader audience. 

"Some of the difficulties were trying to track down really precious objects that I knew were out there. But over time things get lost," Gibson says. 

There's a significant section of the book dedicated to Māori activism.  It includes such items as Eva Rickard's dresses, a plough from Parihaka, objects confiscated from Tame Iti during the police raid.

Williams had this to say in closing, "Ensure that Māori stories about protest were threaded throughout. We also maintained spaces of mana motuhake within the book as well so there’s a couple of chapters speak specifically to Māori forms of protest in Aotearoa."

The book also covers anti-war, anti-nuclear protest, anti-apartheid and Women & Protest.