Focusing on the era of "first encounters" in Polynesia, this book provides a fresh look at some of the early contacts between indigenous people and the captains and crew of European ships. The case studies chosen enable comparison of New Zealand Māori–European transactions with similar Pacific ones. The book examines the conflict situations that arose and the reasons for physical violence, highlighting the roles of honour, mana, and agency. Drawing on a range of archival materials, sailor and missionary journals, as well as indigenous narratives, Wilkes applies an analytical method typically used for examining much more recent conflict. She compares different ways of "seeing" and "knowing" the world and reflects on the reasons for poor decision-making amongst all the social actors involved. The evidence presented in the book strongly suggests that preventing violence – promoting and negotiating peace – happens most effectively when mana and honour are acknowledged between parties.

chapter 2|14 pages

Approaches to the anthropology of violence

chapter 3|28 pages

Conflicting ontological worlds

Seeing and knowing

chapter 4|22 pages

Encounters in two worlds

chapter 6|35 pages

John Rowe’s death at Grass Cove 1773

chapter 7|47 pages

Cook’s death at Kealakekua, Hawaii, 1779

chapter 9|25 pages

Honour, status, and agency