The Naturalist: The Life of Ernst Dieffenbach
Thu 28 Aug 2014,
Vodafone Centre, Level 3
Friends of Te Papa $15, guests $20 (includes
free parking and refreshments). Bookings required: email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (04)
Join Thom Conroy as he discusses his intriguing novel about a free-spirited German naturalist who came to New Zealand with a controversial 1839 expedition to buy Māori land.
Of The Naturalist, Thom says, ‘I wanted to reintroduce readers to a man whose ideas sound closer to ours than those of his own era, and I hoped to contribute to a new way of looking at the history of New Zealand and its connections to the world.’
Dieffenbach’s strong views on colonisation cut across the thinking of the time. He engaged in heated debates with the Wakefields and Charles Heaphy (who were to become renowned colonists) during his three-month voyage aboard the Tory.
On arrival in New Zealand, Dieffenbach learned Māori, investigated local flora and fauna, and ascended Mt Taranaki. He advocated equality between Māori and Pākehā, arguing that the ‘savages’ were of equal intellect and sensibility to ‘civilised’ members of society.
Thom brings this fascinating man to life and offers a vivid depiction of a New Zealand on the cusp of widespread colonisation.
Thom Conroy is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Massey University, Wellington. Following the talk, join Thom for coffee and book signing.
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