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The Aborigines and Maori: The History of the Indigenous Peoples in Australia and New Zealand

Narrated by: Dan Gallagher
Length: 3 hrs and 25 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A land of almost three million square miles has lain since time immemorial on the southern flank of the planet, so isolated that it remained almost entirely outside of European knowledge until 1770. From there, however, the subjugation of Australia would take place rapidly. Within 20 years of the first British settlements being established, the British presence in Terra Australis was secure, and no other major power was likely to mount a challenge. In 1815, Napoleon would be defeated at Waterloo, and soon afterward would be standing on the barren cliffs of Saint Helena, staring across the limitless Atlantic. The French, without a fleet, were out of the picture, the Germans were yet to establish a unified state, let alone an overseas empire of any significance, and the Dutch were no longer counted among the top tier of European powers. 

In 1769, Captain James Cook’s historic expedition in the region would lead to an English claim on Australia, but before he reached Australia, he sailed near New Zealand and spent weeks mapping part of New Zealand’s coast. Thus, he was also one of the first to observe and take note of the indigenous peoples of the two islands. His instructions from the Admiralty were to endeavor at all costs to cultivate friendly relations with tribes and peoples he might encounter and to regard any native people as the natural and legal possessors of any land they were found to occupy. Cook, of course, was not engaged on an expedition of colonization, so when he encountered for the first time a war party of Maori, he certainly had no intention of challenging their overlordship of Aotearoa, although he certainly was interested in discovering more about them. 

Taking into account similarities of appearance, customs and languages spread across a vast region of scattered islands, it was obvious that the Polynesian race emerged from a single origin, and that origin Cook speculated was somewhere in the Malay Peninsula or the “East Indies”. In this regard, he was not too far from the truth. The origins of the Polynesian race have been fiercely debated since then, and it was only relatively recently, through genetic and linguistic research, that it can now be stated with certainty that the Polynesian race originated on the Chinese mainland and the islands of Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Oceania was, indeed, the last major region of the Earth to be penetrated and settled by people, and Polynesia was the last region of Oceania to be inhabited. The vehicle of this expansion was the outrigger canoe, and aided by tides and wind patterns, a migration along the Malay Archipelago, and across the wide expanses of the South Pacific, began sometime between 3,000 and 1,000 BC, reaching the Western Polynesian Islands in about 900 BC. 

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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Decent introduction, bad pronunications

The history itself, comparing from the parts I already knew, seems to be a decent, middle of the road introduction and overview of what happened to the Maori and Australian Aboriginal (or Indigenous) peoples through colonisation, with general descriptions of their societies & cultures before colonisation as introductory background to what follows. Much time is also spent describing the establishment of while settlement & colonisation.

As all other reviewers have noted, do not trust the pronunications of non-English words. For evey word local to Australia & New Zealand, (including Maori words I knew the pronunciation for), the narrator was abjectly wrong, not even giving the usual anglicanisation of words. He also mispronounces Australian place names, in the way most Americans do.

This review's language feels prozaic and academic to me. I am writing it immediately after finishing listening to the book, so please take it as an indication of the sort of language the author uses.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer Oliver
  • 18-06-2019

Might be a better read than listen

The content of the book was what I wanted, as to the history of the Aborigines and Maori. More on their culture, specifically would have been good. This was a good review of how colonization affected them, however. The reading of the content was rather bland and monotone, which was disappointing.