The Opening of the Great Bush, 1869-1881: a Social History of the Bush Settlements of Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Wellington
In undertaking this study I had the two-fold object of investigating an area of our history which appears to me to have been too long neglected, and, in presenting my results, of grappling with the problems of writing colonial social history. So far we have only had limited studies of selected aspects of the bush settlement era of North Island history. I believe we cannot properly understand this great colonising effort unless we endeavour both to view it whole and to place it in the larger context of colonial history. I have therefore taken the whole southern half of the North Island as my area of study, and have endeavoured to show how the assault on the Great Bush relates to the aftermath of the Maori Wars, the larger social history of the colony as a whole, and the agrarian history of the Old World from which so many of the bush settlers came. I had hoped originally to carry the story through at least three decades, but it became apparent that my broad canvas required some kind of narrowing, and I reluctantly decided to limit myself to the period 1869-1881, which seemed to have a sufficient political and economic unity to stand on its own. I have, however, done a good deal of research on through the 1880s and 1890s, and this, I trust, has enabled me to see the significance of the 1870s with a sense of perspective.