Honi Heke: The Maori as Aboriginal Hero in Australian Colonial Poetry


The focus of most nineteenth-century Australian literary depictions of the Maori, which were by turns celebratory, admonitory, satirical, was the rebellion of Honi Heke, or the Northern War of 1845-46. Authors imagined this antagonist of British imperialism in New Zealand in ways that emphasised forlorn heroics rather than recalcitrant barbarism; discovered in him a nobility felt signally to be lacking in the Aborigines of Australia; Heke was used to criticise intramurally expansionist policies of the Empire.

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Published 1 May 1993 in Volume 16 No. 1. Subjects: Aboriginal Australians - Literary portrayal, Colonial literature & writers, Maori people, Racial identity - Literary portrayal.

Cite as: Pierce, Peter. ‘Honi Heke: The Maori as Aboriginal Hero in Australian Colonial Poetry.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1993, doi: 10.20314/als.f2289e13dd.