Paul Moon

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Paul Moon
Paul Moon photo 2011.jpg
Professor Paul Moon, 2011
Born Paul Moon
(1968-10-18) 18 October 1968 (age 49)
Auckland, New Zealand
Occupation Historian, author

Paul Moon (born 1968) is a New Zealand historian and a professor at the Auckland University of Technology. He is a prolific writer of New Zealand history and biography, specialising in Māori history, the Treaty of Waitangi and the early period of Crown rule.

Paul Moon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Studies, a Master of Philosophy degree with distinction, a Master of Arts degree with honours, and a Doctor of Philosophy. In 2003, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society at University College London, and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Moon is recognised for his study of the Treaty of Waitangi, and has published two books on the topic. He has also produced the biographies of Governors William Hobson and Robert FitzRoy, and the Ngā Puhi chief Hone Heke.[1] In 2003, he published the book Tohunga: Hohepa Kereopa, an explication regarding tohunga of the Ngāi Tūhoe.[2] He has also written a major biography of the Ngā Puhi politician and Kotahitanga leader Hone Heke Ngapua (1869–1909), and wrote the best-selling Fatal Frontiers – a history of New Zealand in the 1830s.[3] In addition to writing books, Moon is a frequent contributor to national and international academic journals on a variety of history-related topics.

Currently, Moon is Professor of History at the Auckland University of Technology's Te Ara Poutama, the Faculty of Māori Development, where he has taught since 1993, and estimated to be one of New Zealand's most financially successful authors, based on a combination of his prolific output and estimated sales of each of his books.

Ernest Scott Prize in History shortlist 2014

In June 2014, Moon was shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize in History, which " awarded to work based upon original research which is, in the opinion of the examiners, the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation."[4]

The judges for 2014 were Professor Paula Hamilton from the University of Technology, Sydney, and Professor Tom Brooking from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Their citation for Paul Moon's book Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand explained the basis for its shortlisting: ‘This volume engages with a wide range of source material especially imagery, narratives and sites to explore how New Zealand has been imagined across two centuries. The very different ways migrants, visitors, settlers and Maori experienced and interpreted the landscape reveal competing visions which shaped New Zealand’s future. While it has resonances with Richard White’s Inventing Australia (1981) and Ross Gibson’s earlier research on the southern lands that were the subject of rich mythologising by Europeans, The Diminishing Paradise (1984), this volume draws on two more recent areas of scholarship to create a very different and innovative work. The first is research in environmental history and the cultural construction of landscape which has led Moon to examine ideas about ‘wild’ New Zealand, environmental ‘purity’ and the concept of the sublime used to understand and explain the magnificence of New Zealand as a place of encounter. The second is the field of heritage tourism and popular historical consciousness, which allows Moon to explore memory that is ‘more of a cultural practice which drifts into the imagination’ or nostalgia for objects and ruins that has sometimes ossified Maori traditions and romanticised the colonial past. The result is a richly evocative study which should be read by all who value the distinctiveness of this country.’ [5]

Media appearances

In the past few years, Moon has appeared on TVNZ's Frontier of Dreams programme explaining the history of the Waitangi Treaty, on Prime TV's New Zealand's Top 100 History Makers programme, on TVNZ's Close Up, Marae, Te Karere, and Waka Huia programmes, on TV3 News, on Sky News Australia, and on Maori Television as an election night analyst. He is a frequent commentator on Treaty-related issues on Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme, on Newstalk ZB, Radio Pacific, and Radio Live.


Moon's criticism of Bishop Pompallier

Moon's 2001 biography of Hone Heke caused a major controversy because of its treatment of Bishop Jean Baptiste Pompallier, whom Moon described as 'seditious' and 'treasonous'[6] – a view fellow historian Michael King rejected as "Absolute nonsense...reflecting the anti-Catholic prejudices widespread among Protestant missionaries at the time".[6]

Māori cannibalism

Moon's 2008 book This Horrid Practice, in which he discusses cannibalism amongst historical Māori, has also drawn criticism. It sparked accusations that Moon was demonising Maori, and some argued the book was "a return to Victorian values". Moon hit back in a newspaper article in which he accused the critics of the book of attempting to censor him. He also was critical of some of the superficial commentaries made by particular academics, and noted that many people had criticised the book before it had even been released.[7]

Heke's flagpole

In 2009 the auction firm Dunbar Sloane announced its intention to sell a piece of wood allegedly taken from the flagpole Hōne Heke chopped down at Russell in the mid-1840s. Moon was asked for a professional opinion and stated that the piece of wood was almost certainly a late nineteenth century fake. The item was withdrawn from auction, but sold privately to the Russell Museum later in the year for an undisclosed sum.[8]



Paul Moon was born in Auckland, the son of Evan Moon, a solicitor, and Dragica Moon (née Pavličević) who emigrated to New Zealand from Montenegro in 1966. His father's family came to New Zealand from Sussex, in the mid-1880s, and was involved in the establishment of the Auckland Star newspaper.[citation needed]


Paul Moon identifies as a Congregationalist,[9] and in July 2007 completed a history of Three Kings Congregational Church, in Mt. Roskill, Auckland, for its centenary. Moon's wife, Milica, is Serbian Orthodox.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Ling, David (2007). "Backlist History Titles". David Ling Publishing. Retrieved 10 May 2007. 
  2. ^ "New Zealand Maori books". Collectible Books. Retrieved 10 May 2007. 
  3. ^ Weil, Barbara (2006). "Fatal Frontiers". Times Newspaper Online. Retrieved 10 May 2007. 
  4. ^ "2014 Ernest Scott Prize Shortlist Announced". Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "2014 Ernest Scott Prize Shortlist Announced". 
  6. ^ a b "Bishop's guiding light shines again for faithful". The New Zealand Herald. 
  7. ^ Moon, Paul (29 August 2008). "Paul Moon: Censorship alive and well and living in NZ". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Hewitson, Michele (18 June 2011). "Michele Hewitson Interview: Paul Moon". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 

External links

  • Paul Moon - staff profile at the Auckland University of Technology
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