The Otaki Historical Society has secured one of New Zealand’s most published and widely respected historians, Matthew Wright, to speak at its August public meeting.
Matthew will speak about the vigorous military past of the Kapiti-Horowhenua region at the meeting, 7.30pm on Tuesday, August 5, at the Rotary Hall in Aotaki Street. His talk will cover the early years of Te Rauparaha going through to the mid-19th century wars.
“In this, I’m not a specialist expert on Otaki,” he says, “but I can give some of the details of the ‘musket wars’ that surged through in the 1820s-40s, then the ‘Wellington’ war of the 1840s.”
He will, however, highlight the place of Otaki and the Kapiti Coast in that broader picture.
Matthew is not only widely published; he also has qualifications in music, history and anthropology, among other fields, holds post-graduate degrees in history, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society at University College, London.
He published his first short story in 1976 and since the early 1980s has worked extensively as a writer, professional historian, reviewer and journalist. His work includes more than 500 articles, academic papers, reviews and more than 50 books on topics ranging from travel guides to biography, engineering, military and social history.
He is perhaps best known for his historical work, which has received academic and popular recognition. He is one of only two historians in New Zealand to have written both a general history of the country, and histories of the New Zealand wars.
“Matthew Wright is rapidly emerging as one of our most prolific military and social historians, an assiduous researcher and no mere blinkered follower of academic and ideological fashion. Far from it. As our pre-eminent military historian, Christopher Pugsley, emphasises in a foreword to this book, this is a re-examination of the validity of many of the theories and assumptions underlying James Belich’s stimulating but seriously flawed and now out-dated The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict (1986). And without a doubt Wright demolishes many of those theories and corrects many of Belich’s errors and his more fanciful and extravagant assertions, through superior knowledge of military history and ruthless logic.” – Edmund Bohan, The Press, September 2006.