The historic Far North

The historic Far North

With some help from experts we have got together a short reading list on the history of the Far North.  Ideal as a guide if you are coming on the Historic Bay of Islands tour in October, the selection covers books that are quick to read as well as some that will take longer. Angela Middleton is especially useful as it covers all the sites of the tour.  For more information on any of these books, just click on the images.

Angela Middleton
Pēwhairangi, Bay of Islands Missions and Māori 1814 to 1845
Otago University Press, 2014, pp 336.

A scholarly and balanced account covering the important years of early contact between the missionaries and Maori.  “… It is a story of Ngāpuhi and Pākehā engagement, as neighbours, over four decades. More than anything else, the rich fabric of this book is a story of people..”


Caroline Fitzgerald editor

Letters from the Bay of Islands, the Story of Marianne Williams
Penguin 2004, pp 270.

A collection of Marianne’s letters from the time of the family’s departure from England in 1822 to 1837. She was an acute observer of local events and a lively letter writer. Her personal observations of the difficulties for the family trying to survive makes this book a real page turner.


Caroline Fitzgerald editor

Te Wiremu, Henry Williams, Early Years in the North
Huia 2011, pp 349.

Henry’s letters and journals from 1822 to 1840 which makes a fascinating companion-piece to Marianne’s more domestic viewpoint. As well as events in the north, Henry describes his travels around the North Island and his many attempts to stop conflict among Maori.


Claudia Orange
The Story of a Treaty, Wellington, 2013
Bridget Williams Books, 2013

Since its publication in 1987, Claudia Orange’s book has become the standard guide to one of the key documents in New Zealand history, selling over 40,000 copies. The complexities of the Treaty, which have done so much to shape New Zealand history for nearly 200 years, are thoughtfully explored as Orange examines the meanings the document has held for Māori and Pākehā


The Williams Museum Website

Because the Williams homestead/museum is not open to the public, a “virtual museum” has been set up on this website which provides information about the house, garden, the Museum Trust and also the collections which are held elsewhere. Historical content is still being written for the website but the family background has been covered.