Cover image for History of New Zealand and its inhabitants
History of New Zealand and its inhabitants
Vaggioli, Felice, 1845-1921.
Uniform Title:
Storia della Nuova Zelanda e dei suoi abiatori. English
Publication Information:
Dunedin, New Zealand : University of Otago Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxiii, 340 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Comprehensive history, largely derived from the extensive literature of the subject and from the author's observations during eight years residence in New Zealand as a Roman Catholic priest. Cf. Hocken.
General Note:
First published 1896 in Italian. First English translation 2000.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DU420.16 .V3413 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



An extraordinary new book reveals sympathy for Maori from an unusual supporter - an Italian priest. The book, History of New Zealand and its Inhabitants , has waited over a century to be translated into English, but sits comfortably alongside the contemporary Maori renaissance and claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. The book was originally published in Italy in 1896. Its author, Dom Felice Vaggioli, was one of the first Benedictine priests to be sent to New Zealand. He worked in Gisborne, Auckland and the Coromandel from 1879 to 1887. While in New Zealand, he gathered information, including first-hand accounts of Treaty of Waitangi signings, and of the Taranaki and Waikato wars. Vaggioli's writing style is dramatic and racy, and Crockett has retained this in his translation. The book is a terrific read of nineteenth century New Zealand history. Anyone interested in Maori-Pakeha relations or the history of colonization will want to read this remarkable source.

Author Notes

Dom Felice Vaggioli (1845-1921) was a Benedictine monk from Tuscany. As a youth he was a conscientious objector, avoiding compulsory military service by hiding in a region which was under Austrian rule. He began his novitiate in 1864 and was professed a religious the following year. In 1876 he was sent as a missionary to Tunisia, and three years later to New Zealand. Vaggioli was first appointed parish priest in Gisborne, and was entrusted with the job of clearing the parish debt. He then performed similar tasks at St Benedict's church in Newton, Auckland. However, the stress of debt collecting resulted in his health deteriorating and after a brief holiday he was appointed to Coromandel. In 1888, after his return to Italy, he assumed the important post of Abbot Visitor of the Italian province of his order, until 1896 when he ceased this role to concentrate on his writing. From 1910 until his death he occupied the prestigious position of Superior of San Giorgio Maggiore monastery in Venice. Vaggioli was known for his austerity, intellectual curiosity and frankness. John Crockett was born in Auckland in 1946 and attended Holy Name Seminary in Christchurch to begin studies for the Catholic priesthood. He then spent four years at Propaganda Fide College in Rome, where he received a theology degree and was ordained as a deacon, but decided not to become a priest. On returning to New Zealand he completed a BA in history and Italian and an MA in applied sociology. He has worked as a social worker and counsellor and currently works at Student Health at the University of Auckland. He is translating the first volume of Vaggioli's History of New Zealand and is also working on an historical novel, Nga Roimata , based on the journey of two students, Maori and Pakeha, who were sent to Rome by Bishop Pompallier in the mid nineteenth century.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Vaggioli, an Italian Benedictine monk, served as a missionary in New Zealand from 1879 to 1887. His History, initially published in 1896 and now translated into English for the first time by John Crockett, represents a perceptive bicultural history of New Zealand with a distinctively anticolonial point of view. Vaggioli's insights on the Treaty of Waitangi, the New Zealand Wars, the machinations of Governor George Grey, and the millennial movements that accompanied the wars of the 19th century anticipate modern histories by such accomplished scholars as James Belich and Claudia Orange. While predisposed to take a jaundiced view of Protestantism and Britain's imperial project, he succeeds nonetheless in presenting a sensitive, nonracist interpretation of Maori culture and society as well as a frank appraisal of the exploitative nature of colonialism. As Vaggioli observes, settlers and the colonial government provoked the wars of the 1860s because they "had no intention of observing the Treaty of Waitangi." On the other hand, the wars "showed that the tactics, daring and valor of the Maori were far superior to their opposing forces." Lower division undergraduates and above. J. O. Gump; University of San Diego

Table of Contents

John CrockettTom BrookingDom Felice Vaggioli
Acknowledgementsp. v
Introductionp. vii
Visitors to Nineteenth-Century Aotearoa/New Zealandp. xix
History of New Zealand and Its Inhabitantsp. 1
Notesp. 313
Indexp. 331