Heritage Talk - Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds

Painting of Tuai in European dress by James Barry, 1818.

Talk date: 31 May 2023.

Researcher and author Alison Jones presented the remarkable story of Tuai, a young Ngare Raumati chief from the Bay of Islands who was one of the first Māori travellers to Europe. Based on the book she co-authored with Kuni Kaa Jenkins, Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds.

In early 1817 Tuai, a young Ngare Raumati chief from the Bay of Islands, set o­ff for England. He was one of a number of Māori who, after encountering European explorers, traders and missionaries in New Zealand, seized opportunities to travel beyond their familiar shores to Australia, England and Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Tuai would visit exotic foreign ports, mix with teeming crowds in the metropolis of London, and witness the marvels of industrialisation at the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire. With his lively travelling companion Titere, he would attend fashionable gatherings and sit for his portrait. He shared his deep understanding of Māori language and culture. And his missionary friends did their best to convert him to Christianity.

But on returning to his Māori world in 1819, Tuai found there were difficult choices to be made. His plan to integrate new European knowledge and relationships into his Ngare Raumati community was to be challenged by the rapidly shifting politics of the Bay of Islands.

Picture shows a painting of Tuai in European dress by James Barry, 1818.

Watch the talk on YouTube

Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds by Alison Jones on YouTube 

Picture of Alison Jones.

About Alison Jones

Alison Jones is an educational researcher and a Professor in Te Puna Wānanga, the School of Māori and Indigenous Education at the University of Auckland.

Her first book with Kuni Kaa Jenkins, He Kōrero: Words Between Us - First Māori-Pākehā Conversations on Paper (Huia, 2011), won the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards, the PANZ Book Design Award and the Best Book in Higher Education Publishing in 2012.

Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds, co-authored with Kuni Kaa Jenkins, won best illustrated nonfiction book at the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.