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CUP book

Polynesia, 900–1600: An overview of the history of Aotearoa, Rēkohu, and Rapa Nui

20 November 2023

Madi Williams


August 2021
94pp, paperback
210 x 148mm

This book provides a concise introduction to the history of South Polynesia during the period typically defined as the ‘Middle Ages’ by western historians, focusing on Aotearoa New Zealand, Rēkohu (Chatham Islands), and Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Written in response to a wider global approach to medieval history, it offers a fresh perspective on the history of the region during that period.

Polynesia 900-1600_cover

The comparative study of the southern Polynesian islands and Rapa Nui provides a thematic examination in order to avoid forcing the region’s history into a linear Western chronology. Themes of movement and migration, adaptation and change, and development and expansion offer an optimal means of understanding Polynesia during this period, in an account that incorporates oral traditions, historical analysis, and archaeology.

Drawing together a wide range of research from past and present scholars, the book provides an accessible introduction both for students and for the general reader interested in the long history of these islands.

Madi Williams (Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne o Wairau) is a lecturer at the University of Canterbury where she researches the boundaries of history and the inclusion of Indigenous and non-Western perspectives in Aotearoa New Zealand and South Pacific histories. Madi is the recipient of a 2021 Judith Binney Writing Award, which will help her prepare a book based on her PhD thesis on the histories of Ngāti Kuia.

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