Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Maori, and the Question of the Body
Tony Ballantyne is Professor of History at the University of Otago. He is the author or editor of many books, including Between Colonialism and Diaspora: Sikh Cultural Formations in an Imperial World and Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History, both also published by Duke University Press.
Economics, Labor, and Time
This chapter explores missionary attempts to transform Māori economic behavior. In particular, it examines the place of “industriousness” in Marsden’s civilizing scheme and in the struggles over labor and the organization of time on mission stations in the 1810s and 1820s. It reconstructs the profound difficulties that the missionaries faced in translating this vision into reality in New Zealand and their inability to significantly transform Māori society. In-fighting, conflicts over resources, struggles over status between convict laborers and “mechanic missionaries,” and clashes over goods and authority seriously hampered the progress of the mission and the early missionaries could not break free from their economic dependence on Māori. Missionaries struggled to dislodge traditional rhythms of work, revealing both the persistence of the long-established indigenous temporal schema and open Māori resistance to the missionary emphasis on the social and spiritual importance of sustained and regular labor. This situation began to shift significantly in the late 1820s when the growing self-sufficiency and cultural authority (mana) of the mission encouraged some Māori to engage more fully with Christian teaching and, in particular, to begin observing the Sabbath.