Panguru and the City: Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua

Panguru and the City: Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua

An Urban Migration History

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Travelling from Hokianga to Auckland in the middle decades of the twentieth century, the people of Panguru established themselves in the workplaces, suburbs, churches and schools of the city. Melissa Matutina Williams writes from the heart of these communities. The daughter of a Panguru family growing up in Auckland, she writes a perceptive account of urban migration through the stories of the Panguru migrants.

Through these vibrant oral narratives, the history of Māori migration is relocated to the tribal and whānau context in which it occurred. For the people of Panguru, migration was seldom viewed as a one-way journey of new beginnings; it was experienced as a lifelong process of developing a ‘coexistent home-place’ for themselves and future generations. Dreams of a brighter future drew on the cultural foundations of a tribal homeland and past.

Panguru and the City: Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua traces their negotiations with people and places, from Auckland’s inner-city boarding houses, places of worship and dance halls to workplaces and Maori Affairs’ homes in the suburbs. It is a history that will resonate with Māori from all tribal areas who shared in the quiet task of working against state policies of assimilation, the economic challenges of the 1970s and neoliberal policies of the 1980s in order to develop dynamic Māori community sites and networks which often remained invisible in the cities of Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Dec 2015
Pages: 304
RRP: $49.99
ISBN: 9781927247921
ISTC: A02201300000619E
DOI: 10.7810/9781927247921

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Winner of the E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2016! 

Winner of the 2016 Bert Roth Award!

'Panguru and the City, Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua: An Urban Migration History', Rangi Davis, Tui Motu InterIslands Magazine, 1 December 2017.

'Panguru and the City, Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua: An Urban Migration History', Susan Smith, Tui Motu InterIslands Magazine, 10 September 2017.

'More summer reading recommendations', Tilly Lloyd, Metro, 28 January 2016

'Maori urban migration challenged in new book', Western Leader, 8 September 2015

'Migration Myths', Melissa Matutina Williams with Wallace Chapman, Sunday Morning, Radio New Zealand, 22 Mar 2015

'Panguru migration book challenges orthodoxy', Waatea News, 24 Feb 2015


'Melissa Williams’s book is a revelation – offering important stories of urbanisation, cultural continuity, return and revitalisation. This is a story that needs to be told.' Ranginui Walker

'This is an incredibly generous book, on the part of both Melissa and the many interview contributors. In the simple but deeply important act of sharing kōrero Melissa Williams tells the urban history of rural Panguru, revealing complex Māori lives that dislodge long-held misconceptions of Māori urban migrations as permanent, one-way movements resulting in cultural dislocation – a distinctly Māori history that calls New Zealand history to attention.' Aroha Harris


‘Melissa Matutina Williams steps into that breach with this insightful account of one Māori community’s experience with urban life in Auckland ... And throughout, it is the interplay between history and the current moment that animates both Panguru people’s kōrero and Williams’ own account ... the fertile intersections between past and present and between the urban and the Indigenous shape this important work, which should take its place among the best scholarship on urban Indigeneities.’ Coll Thrush, Australian Historical Studies, 47, 1, March 2016

'But the greatest strength of the book is that it is the voices of Māori speaking for themselves, defining and interpreting their own experiences rather than being filtered through the assumptions of others looking in from the outside. It is a beautifully intimate portrait of a community that has elements of sadness and struggle alongside resilience and courage, adventure and excitement. The text is richly complemented by a broad selection of images.' Aaron Smale, Mana, August/September 2015

'Panguru and the City is a thorough and fascinating piece of work filled with beautiful photos. Williams’ combination of social analysis and oral accounts perfectly encapsulates, for me, what is one of the most interesting things about history: the way social forces shape people’s lives even though every person is still an individual making personal decisions. Māori who made the move from Panguru to Auckland are both part of a historically important pattern of migration and human beings who get to speak.' Bridget Vosburgh, Critic, Otago University Students' Association, 15 Mar 2015