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This chapter investigates the connections between collecting, ordering, and governing in Aotearoa/New Zealand through four distinctive, overlapping collections. Organized around “the Maori as he was,” a concept that referenced the preservation of ancient pre-European Māori life, this notion articulated a changing set of governmental rationalities that detailed the freedoms and limits of the Māori population. We illustrate how “the Maori as he was” was, in the first instance, linked to the shift away from salvage and racial assimilationist projects and toward Clark Wissler’s notion of culture areas and the various uses of a Boasian notion of culture and the assessment of intellectual capacity as a lever for developing a vision of a more independent Māori social development. Indigenous agency is a focus of this chapter, particularly in relation to the Māori politicians and scholars involved in government research and museum activities.

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