- Pocock, J. G. A. 2001. “The Uniqueness of Aotearoa.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 145, No. 4, pp. 482-487. Philadelphia, United States: American Philosophical Society.
The subject of my paper is a country of three million or so inhabitants in the Southwest Pacific, a region that it has seen itself as inhabiting for only the last fifty years. In the history of human species, it is one of the last to have been settled; the first human inhabitants (who were also the first land mammal) arrived in sailing galleys not many more than ten centuries ago, and it came to be included in the Euro-American world system, by trade and intensive colonization, shortly after 1800. This country is known as New Zealand, though I have mentioned it in my title by an alternative Polynesian name, and it is curiously difficult to get the inhabitants of other countries to pay it much attention. Americans will look blank when it is mentioned—that it must be very beautiful; the reasons why the British are almost indifferent to it are more complex and have to do with the mindset of empire and former empire. They share, however, a conviction that there is no need to think about this country, because it has no problems and is not very interesting, a conviction that, for the first half of my lifetime, a majority of its inhabitants held about themselves. Things have changed, however, and Aotearoa / New Zealand—to use its double names is now subject to the Chinese curse; it lives in interesting times. As a consequence, things are going on there in which I anticipate no difficulty in bringing my readers to take an interest.