This important book explores the role of the courts and of various types of commissions in mediating and reinventing historical narratives of colonisation. Belgrave shows how the courts became from 1840 places where different narratives of discovery and conquest, of loss and displacement and of claims to resources and mana were debated. These legal debates were not only between Maori and Pakeha; Maori also used the courts to maintain or reclaim traditional rights between Maori and Maori. From this perspective the Waitangi Tribunal is less radical than is often supposed and is seen to be carrying on a similar function to earlier tribunals and courts in the transformation of historical narratives. Historical Frictions will cover a number of issues, all of which have been before the Waitangi Tribunal, including the Old Land Claims, the Kemp Purchase, confiscation, the Orakei Block, the Whanganui River, fisheries, the Chatham Islands and the Wellington Tenths claim.
Michael Belgrave is a senior lecturer in history at the Albany Campus of Massey University. He has worked for the Waitangi Tribunal and was highly regarded for his work on the Ngai Tahu report.