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Select your chapters, build your own digital guide to Oceania: Early encounters, and then download or email it.

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Cultures in conflict

The European and Pacific peoples who encountered each other in the late 1700s and into the 1800s came from societies organised and equipped for war. They honoured their warriors and often settled disputes by violence.

Tensions, misunderstandings, and grievances were inevitable in their encounters, which sometimes ended in armed conflict. Mostly, the opposing forces were the locals and the newcomers. But at times, the battle scene was more complex, with various indigenous groups forming strategic alliances with settlers.

This section explores some of these encounters – the weaponry, motivations, and resolutions, as well as the varied interpretations of events.

In this chapter:

  • Mere pounamu (nephrite weapon)
    Way of the warrior

    For some Pacific peoples, peace was to be maintained at any price, but for many, battle enhanced authority and prestige.

  • The blowing up of the Boyd
    Worlds collide

    Battle often arose from cultural misunderstanding but also from dubious colonial activities and the undermining of indigenous authority.