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Re-making Memory on Matiu and Other “Settlement” Sites 

Rachel Buchanan


This article, written by a historian descended from Māori (and Pākehā) early settlers in Wellington, has three purposes. It reinscribes some whānau (extended family) history, hapu (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribal) histories onto the sites that co-hosted the Contained Memory Conference 2010: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Massey University, Wellington. It then explores two possible approaches to the problem of reclaiming history or remaking memory on the 18 sites “handed back” to Wellington Māori in the recent settlement of a long-standing historical claim, against the Crown, for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. The first approach was to “re-touch” all the archival evidence generated about two of the “returned” sites—the harbour island, Matiu, and its small neighbour, Mokopuna, and the second was to visit the sites. These visits were a way of constructing whānau memory from the ground up. Through them, I have learned to cherish these disparate and frequently abject places, our ragged little spoils of “settlement”.